HBO Max Launching in Europe Oct. 26

WarnerMedia Sept. 8  announced that the HBO Max subscription streaming video platform will launch in Europe on Oct. 26 with Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Spain and Andorra being the first six European countries — and second international launch for the streamer.

Max will be unveiled to Europe at a virtual launch event next month, showcasing the product and content offering, price points and much more.

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In 2022, Max will become available in the following 14 Eastern European countries: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, Croatia, Czech Republic, Hungary, Moldova, Montenegro, North Macedonia, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Serbia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Additional territory launches are also planned for next year.

“This is a historic moment as HBO Max lands in Europe,” Johannes Larcher, head of HBO Max International, said in a statement. “WarnerMedia movies and series like ‘Harry Potter,’ ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘The Big Bang Theory’ are passionately consumed by fans all across Europe, and Max has been created to provide them with the most intuitive and convenient viewing experience to watch these and a diverse range of other amazing titles.”

“The unique and exclusive combination of iconic content from Warner Bros., HBO, DC, Cartoon Network, Max Originals, including local productions and more, creates a streaming platform that fans in Europe will love,” added Christina Sulebakk, GM of HBO Max EMEA. “We see enormous potential as we roll-out the all-new, supercharged streaming platform across the region.”

Max will be available to new customers as well as existing customers of HBO España, HBO Nordic and HBO Go (billed either directly or via eligible partners).

In May this year Max celebrated its one-year anniversary in the United States. and in June launched in 39 territories across Latin America and the Caribbean, marking its first availability outside the United States. The platform ended the most-recent fiscal period with 47 million domestic subscribers, 67.5 million globally, when combined with HBO. It is projected to end the year with 73 million combined subs.

Rakuten TV Inks Alchimie Deal to Increase FAST Channel Access Across Europe

Spain-based free ad-supported streaming television (FAST) service Rakuten TV Sept. 2 announced a content license deal with French-based Alchimie to expand the latter’s channels across Europe.

The new channels — HUMANITY, Luxe TV, MMA TV, Big Names, Motorsport TV, Télézap, Explore by TVPlayer and Krime — will be available in multiple territories across Rakuten TV’s 42-country footprint. L’Atelier des Chefswhich has already launched as part of Rakuten TV’s new culinary channels, also is available. More Alchimie channels will be added to the Rakuten TV portfolio in the near future.

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“Partnering with Alchimie is another milestone in our European expansion and reinforces our commitment to deliver localized and relevant content to all audiences,” Teresa López, head of content at Rakuten TV, said in a statement

“Alchimie is in an excellent position to provide Rakuten TV with entertaining themed channels across Europe with regularly refreshed, high-quality content in local languages,” added Nicolas d’Hueppe, CEO at Alchimie.

Rakuten TV linear channels are currently accessible for free on the Rakuten TV app on Samsung and LG Smart TV devices. Rakuten TV is part of Rakuten Group, which focuses on e-commerce, digital content, and communications. Rakuten is the official partner for FC Barcelona, the Golden State Warriors, Davis Cup and Spartan Race.

Netflix Becomes Largest Producer of Original Content in Europe

French lawmakers just ruled that foreign streaming video services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ must allocate at least 25% of local revenue toward locally-produced original content.

Netflix, which has long advocated spending 30% of local revenue on original productions, is well-ahead of the content spending curve, according to new data from Ampere Analysis.

The London-based firm found that Netflix has become the largest single commissioner of new European scripted content. This represents one of the strongest indicators of the global changes in production market dynamics and represents a boon for European producers as the region becomes increasingly important for global streamers.

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While European Public Service Broadcasters have long been the largest commissioners of new scripted content, Netflix passed them by during 2020, including heavyweights the BBC and Germany’s ZDF in terms of number of commissions across Western and Central Europe. Its local approach to global scale means it will increasingly ascend to become the most important single commissioner at a regional level, according to Ampere.

“As a marker of the wider changes in the entertainment industry, the ascent of Netflix to become the largest single commissioner of new European Scripted content is pivotal,” Guy Bisson, executive director of Ampere Analysis, said in a statement.

To date, Europe’s major public broadcasters have driven the European content creation industry and local drama production. However, the ever-increasing importance of international markets to Netflix’s subscriber growth, its wide investment in locally relevant drama across the region, and the shift to pan-regional or global content as the basis for value means that today, global streamers like Netflix are driving local markets.

“With the newer studio direct streaming platforms already beginning to emulate Netflix’s strategy of commissioning new scripted content outside the U.S., there could not be a better time to be a European content creator,” Bisson said.

Rakuten TV Expands AVOD Service Across Europe

Rakuten TV April 27 announced the expansion of its AVOD platform across Europe with the launch of more than 90 channels in 42 markets. The launch represents a further step in the Japanese e-commerce media company’s aim to compete with Amazon Prime and Prime Video in select markets.

Rakuten TV categories include movies, entertainment, lifestyle, music, sports, news, TV shows and kids programming. The platform includes global brands, such as Bloomberg TV, Bloomberg Quicktake, CNNi (available in the U.K., Germany and Poland), Euronews (the first live channel integrated into Rakuten TV’s AVOD offer), Qwest TV, Reuters, and Comcast-owned Xumo-powered content, including eight Stingray channels, The Hollywood Reporter channel and top brands from Condé Nast, such as Glamour, GQ, Vanity Fair, Vogue and Wired.

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Rakuten TV-owned channels, a broad and varied selection of content curated by categories, based on specific genres and interests, inclue Action, Comedy, Drama, British Films, Family, Documentaries, Thriller, Romance, Spotlight (featuring Rakuten TV original and exclusive content as well as a selection of movies) and Top Free(a selection that highlights the best films currently available on the platform).

“We are eager to contribute once again to the disruption of the entertainment industry with this major step on the growth and innovation on Rakuten TV, which aims to enrich our business model and content offer” Jacinto Roca, founder/CEO at Rakuten TV, said in a statement“At a time when the entertainment sector is living an unprecedented transformation, and consumption habits are constantly evolving, we are striving to adapt our business model to meet users and advertisers needs at once.”

The launch aims to reinforce Rakuten TV’s proposition as the only European platform combining TVOD (transactional video-on-demand), AVOD (advertising video-on-demand) and SVOD (subscription video-on-demand) services. Rakuten TV is available in 43 European countries and currently reaches more than 90 million households due its pre-installed app in many Smart TV manufacturers’ devices and remote controls.

Netflix No. 2 TV Group in Europe in Revenue

The Netflix star just gets brighter. New data from Ampere Analysis reveals that the SVOD behemoth became the second largest TV group in Europe by revenue in 2020. Comcast, through its acquisition of satellite TV operator Sky, is the Euro leader with 12% market share compared to Netflix’s 6.1%.

“Since launching in 2012, Netflix has grown rapidly in Europe,” analyst Tony Maroulis said in a statement.

Indeed, by 2016, Netflix had launched its services across much of Europe and surpassed $1 billion in revenue. By 2017, it had the largest customer tally of any subscription TV business in Europe. And by 2020, Netflix had overtaken German public broadcaster ARD.

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It would seem that there is no limit to Netflix’s meteoric rise as the streamer continues outsized foreign growth, and helps itself to a greater portion of the audio-visual revenue.

“While Netflix has enjoyed success across the continent, local broadcasters are facing increased pressure,” said Maroulis. “The coronavirus pandemic has thrown the TV advertising market into decline, compounding and accelerating the woes of traditional and established brands. And while Netflix’s pockets are getting deeper, local entities are struggling to compete.”

Ampere contends that over the next few years, Netflix alone is set to be better funded than many leading commercial broadcasters, and its scale means that it is able to produce quantities of high-quality content that most of its local competitors cannot match.

“This global vs. local imbalance will further accelerate the online viewing shift, which is now beginning to shift to older demographics as well as young,” Maroulis said.

TikTok App Launching on Samsung Smart TVs

TikTok, the Chinese-owned social media video app, is coming to connected televisions for the first time. In a Dec. 14 announcement, TikTok said its app would be embedded in Samsung Smart TVs in the U.K., with further rollout across Europe planned in 2021. The deal does not include the U.S. for now. About 100 million Americans use the TikTok app on a monthly basis.

“The past year has dramatically changed the way we live, work and play,” Rich Waterworth, GM of the U.K. amd E.U. at TikTok, said in a statement. “More of us are spending time at home watching TV. This has led us to think about how we can bring the creativity and joy of TikTok to even more people across the U.K.”

Waterworth, a former executive at YouTube and ITV, said the app would not require registering an TikTok account. Viewers will have access to 12 content categories, including a portfolio of original content, including recipe hacks, comedy skits, and video challenges.

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The app will be available on all Samsung Smart TV models from 2018, which include 4K UHD and 8K TVs as well as Smart Monitor, The Premiere, The Frame and The Serif.

European Cinema Operators ‘Shocked’ at Movies Bypassing Theaters for Disney+

Similarly to the situation in the United States, European theater operators are reeling from studios delaying new-release movies due to the coronavirus pandemic. Now the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC), the trade group representing European exhibitors, has lashed out at Walt Disney Studios’ decision to bow Pixar Animation’s Soul on SVOD service Disney+ rather than in theaters.

“Disney’s decision to release Soul directly onto their streaming platform, depriving many audiences across Europe from seeing it on the big screen, has shocked and dismayed all cinema operators,” UNIC said in a statement.

Indeed, Soul represents the third major Disney title (after Artemis Fowl and Mulan) to forgo a theatrical release due to the pandemic. UNIC is upset since control of the pandemic is better in Europe than in the U.S., which has resulted in significantly better box office revenue.

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The vast majority of cinemas across Europe are now open and able to offer a “safe and enjoyable” return for moviegoers, according to UNIC. Like U.S. exhibitors, European operators have invested heavily in social distancing and sanitation protocols in theaters.

“Yet again, however, they find a distributor delivering another blow,” UNIC wrote. “The decision on Soul is doubly frustrating for operators who were counting on the release after the film was previewed at a number of key European film festivals.”

The trade group argues that there is compelling evidence that where moviegoers have returned, their experience was both safe and enjoyable. It also stressed that without major new releases, consumers won’t return to the big screen. Indeed, across Europe, many cinemas have since re-opening screened countless local releases, underlining the fact that first-run titles are now more important than ever.

UNIC said decisions to postpone titles, bypassing cinemas and the value they create, are extremely disappointing — and concerning — and will only delay the day that the whole industry is able to put crisis behind it.

“It is no exaggeration to say that by the time some studios decide that the moment is right to release their films, it may be too late for many European cinemas,” read the statement.

Europa+ SVOD Service Launches in Latin America

A new subscription streaming video service based in Atlanta has launched operations in Latin America. Dubbed Europa+ (Europa Más), the $5.99 monthly service features content from the U.K., Germany, France and Nordics.

Designed for European ex-pats, Latin Americans of European descent and the large community of those passionate about European culture throughout the region, Europa+ offers viewers a variety of the latest European TV shows to link them to their roots, culture and tastes.

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The service draws a curated list of programs from from more than 1,500 hours of library content from BBC Studios, Studio Canal, TF1, ZDF, NordicWorld, Studio 100, Spiegel and Mediaset. Programs are presented ad-free, in high-definition and their original language — all with subtitles and the majority sub-titled in Spanish and English. It is available on iOS, Android, Apple TV, Roku and Amazon Fire TV devices and all shows are available for download for later viewing on portable devices.

Europa+ is owned and operated by Mexico City-based investment fund, Innokap, and Atlanta-based Castalia Communications Corp.

“For nearly 30 years, Castalia Communications has forged a track record of successfully launching new media ventures worldwide,” Luis Torres-Bohl, president of Europa+ and co-owner of Castalia Communications, said in a statement. “Our mission has always been to enable the many and different voices of our world the opportunity to be heard.”

“We provide programming that makes Europeans living and working in Latin America and the Caribbean feel more connected to home,” said Rubén Mendiola, COO and managing director of Europa+. “Subscribers will have the newest European dramas, comedies, documentaries, reality, nature, motor shows, kids’ toons and more at their fingertips.”

Disney+ Launching in Eight More Countries Sept. 15

The Walt Disney Co.’s subscription streaming video service Disney+ is set to launch in eight more European countries Sept. 15. The upstart service, which bowed in the United States, Canada and Holland on Nov. 12, 2019, is launching in Portugal, Finland, Iceland, Belgium and Luxembourg (€6.99/monthly, €69.99/annually), and Norway (69 NOK/689 NOK), Denmark (59 DKK/589 DKK) and Sweden (69 SEK/689). The service no longer offers free seven-day trial periods.

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The platform bowed in Australia, New Zealand and Puerto Rico Nov. 19, 2019; and in Austria, United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Germany, Ireland and Switzerland March 24.

Like other subs, new users have access Disney+ experience on nearly all major mobile and connected TV devices at launch, including gaming consoles, streaming media players, and smart TVs. Subs have access to commercial-free content, up to four concurrent streams, unlimited downloads on up to 10 devices, personalized recommendations, and the ability to set up to seven different profiles.

As of May, Disney said Disney+ had 54.5 million subscribers.

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Report: Disney+ European Launch Nabs 5 Million First-Day App Downloads

The Disney+ launch March 24 in Austria, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom reportedly generated about 5 million app downloads, according to new data from App Annie. By comparison, Disney’s launch of a branded SVOD service in North America last November generated 10 million downloads/sign-ups.

With many Europeans on lockdown at home due to the coronavirus pandemic the launch comes at a time when people are even more inclined to stream video content.

“Disney+ is set to be one of the top streaming apps in the region,” analyst Adithya Venkatraman wrote in a blog post.

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With schools closed, Disney+, with its array of kid-friendly programs, made Frozen 2 available three months ahead of schedule.

Disney+ will be available in France on April 7, and additional Western European markets in the summer, followed by Latin-America and Asia-Pacific.

Disney+ began testing the service in India through the company’s Hotstar app, the 10th ranked app in India by time spent on Android phones in 2019, according to App Annie. Disney recently announced the India launch would be postponed.

So far in 2020, Disney+ is the 7th ranked non-gaming app by consumer spend worldwide with the U.S. being the main driver of consumer spend.

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Through December 2019, Disney+ users are spending an average of 3 hours and 10 minutes per month in the app, according to App Annie. This is comparable to established players like Netflix (4 hours and 20 minutes per month), and Hulu (3 hours and 20 minutes per month). By the end of 2019, 25% of Netflix users on iPhone in the U.S. also used Disney+, the highest overlap of users among top video apps in the U.S.

With increased social distancing measure taking effect in the U.S. and across the world, free streaming service (a subsidiary of ViacomCBS), saw a 75% week-over-week increase in time spent on Android phones in the U.S. during the week of March 1-7.

The recent acquisition of Tubi TV by Fox, and the planned April 6 launch of Quibi further highlight the increasing competition among video apps for consumers’ time and money, according to Venkatraman.

“If Disney+’s uptake in European markets is similar to what we saw in the U.S., it would make Disney+ one of the largest streaming services by [monthly active users] in every European market it launched in,” Venkatraman wrote .

He said there was a comparable amount of cross-app usage between Netflix and Amazon Prime in the U.K. and Germany during 2019 — 17% in the U.K. and 25% in Germany.

“This suggests that consumers in these markets are willing to support multiple subscription services. The question is how many, and for how long?” Venkatraman wrote.