Amazon Raising Prime Membership Fee Up to 43% in Europe; Taking Delivery of 100,000 Electric Vehicles by 2030

Amazon July 26 announced it will up the annual price of its Prime membership program as much as 43% across parts of Europe as the costs associated with e-commerce — i.e. shipping — continue to escalate. The price hikes also affect the Prime Video streaming service and other Prime features included with the membership.

The annual membership fee will increase in the U.K. 20% to £95 ($113.80) from £79 ($94.60) on Sept. 15. In France, Prime members will see the annual fee jump 43% to €69.90 ($70.80) from €49 ($49.64). Spain and Italy will see 39% price hikes, while Germany gets a 30% annual fee hike. The price increases follow a 15% increase in the U.S. announced in February.

Amazon has also significantly upped entertainment and live sports spending. In addition to closing its $8.5 billion acquisition of MGM Studios, the streamer is paying the NFL $11 billion for 11 years of exclusive rights to “Thursday Night Football” beginning this season.

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Prime Video this month for the first time secured rights to live stream European Champions League soccer matches in the U.K.

Separately, Amazon last week announced it would take delivery of 100,000 Rivian electric vehicles by 2030 for use delivering Amazon packages in Baltimore, Chicago, Dallas, Kansas City, Nashville, Phoenix, San Diego, Seattle and St. Louis, among other cities. This rollout is just the beginning of what is expected to be thousands of Amazon’s custom electric delivery vehicles in more than 100 cities by the end of this year.

Amazon, which owns a stake in Illinois-based Rivian, took a $7.6 billion loss on that stake in the first quarter, ended March 31.

Amazon is currently the largest single global customer of the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van used to deliver e-commerce purchases locally nationwide.

Amazon reports second-quarter (ended June 30) financial results on July 28.

HBO Max Downsizes European Original Content Production Plans

Looking to generate $3 billion in previously announced cost saving synergies through the $43 billion corporate combination of WarnerMedia and Discovery into Warner Bros. Discovery, the media company reportedly is pulling back on original content spending throughout parts of Europe.

The company, which includes Warner Bros., HBO, CNN and Turner, is now stopping original content spending in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Central Europe, Holland and Turkey, among other regions.

The move would appear to impact the streamer’s most-successful original content from those regions, including “Lust” (Sweden), “Kamikaze” (Denmark) and the Hungarian drama “The Informant,” among others.

“As we continue to work on combining HBO Max and Discovery+ into one global streaming service showcasing the breadth of content across Warner Bros. Discovery, we are reviewing our current content proposition on the existing services,” WBD said in a statement first reported by Variety. “Our commitment to these markets has not changed. We will continue to commission local content for Warner Bros Discovery’s linear networks in these regions and we remain substantial acquirers of local third-party content for use on our streaming services.”

Max’s pullback comes as competing streamers up local productions in order to meet European Union mandates calling for 30% local content production among foreign companies operating in the European market.

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Odeon, Imax Expand European Theatrical Distribution Deal

AMC Theatres-owned Odeon Cinemas Group and Imax Corporation June 20 announced an expansion of their longstanding partnership spanning key European cinema markets. Under the agreement, Odeon will upgrade six Imax screens across the U.K. with “Imax with Laser” systems.

Additionally, the two exhibitors have set locations for nine previously contracted new theaters across Europe, including four new locations in Spain, two in Italy, and one in each of Germany, Sweden and the U.K. All new locations will be installed by 2025.

The announcement was made today at the annual CineEurope convention in Barcelona, Spain.

“We have been encouraged by the [number] of guests returning, seeking the most immersive experience possible, and we look forward to the rest of the year with confidence, buoyed by a range of great films to show them,” Mark Way, president of AMC Europe and managing director Odeon Cinemas Group, said in a statement.

“As we grow market share around the world, Imax continues to grow, diversify, and enhance its global network, and this new agreement with our longstanding partners at Odeon further accelerates our momentum,”Rich Gelfond, CEO of Imax, said in a statement.

Odeon and Imax have a longstanding partnership spanning nearly 15 years. Odeon opened its first Imax screen in 2008, and the two companies signed an agreement for 25 Imax screens in 2017 — which still stands as Imax’s largest European theater agreement. Odeon is currently Imax’s largest partner in Europe, with 34 theaters currently in operation, and an additional 11 new locations will be installed by 2025. Four of Imax’s top five highest grossing locations in Europe are in Odeon cinemas.

Imax with Laser is the exhibitor’s most advanced 4K laser projection system, featuring a new optical engine, custom designed lenses, and a suite of proprietary technology that delivers brighter images with increased resolution, deeper contrast and the widest range of colors.

EAO: Netflix, Sky Dominate European SVOD, Pay-TV Markets

Subscription streaming video pioneer Netflix, and satellite-based pay-TV operator Sky continue to dominate the European market, according to new data from the European Audiovisual Observatory, part of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg, France.

The report, which aims to shed light on the structure of the streaming video and pay-TV industry in Europe in terms of revenue as well as other performance indicators specific to key market segments, found that Sky (through 2020) generated more revenue ($18.5 billion) than both Netflix Europe ($7 billion) and German public broadcaster ARD ($7.4 billion) combined.

Indeed, the report found that public broadcasters still account for one-third of global viewing consumption in Europe. At the same time, Netflix held a 35% market share among SVOD markets, followed by Amazon Prime Video at 20.4%. SVOD remained the most concentrated audiovisual market in Europe in terms of subscriptions, according to the report.

While the EAO found that the top 100 audiovisual companies showed a resilience to COVID-19, merger and acquisition activity has been accelerated by the streaming rush and the pandemic crisis. U.S. interests in the Europe show an upward trend, driven in part by HBO Max, Paramount+, Discovery+ and Disney+ expansion throughout the region, including Eastern Europe.

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The cumulated operating AV services revenue of the top 100 companies in Europe (+7.7% over 2016 at the end of 2020) grew slightly more than average inflation and the overall market. The growth was driven solely by the private sector (+12% over the same period), with more than 75% of the incremental revenue cumulatively delivered by pure SVOD players alone (Netflix, Amazon and DAZN, etc.).

By contrast, the revenue of the traditional AV players has stagnated, with businesses relying on advertising being more severely affected and publish broadcast market share down by 3% over the five-year period.

Concentration remains similar over the analyzed period, with the top 20 players accounting for around 70% of the top 100 European AV groups by operating revenue. Although this percentage is much higher in the private sector (85%), it still shows less concentration when compared to the U.S. market.

U.S. streaming companies’ internationalization efforts for the five-year period (+4% up to 31% of the top 100 revenues in 2020) with a preference for prioritizing direct as opposed to traditional indirect investments. While the share of U.S. interests was by far the highest in the SVOD market (78%) at the end of 2020, their contribution as (executive) producers of European TV fiction titles remained limited (6% of the total number of TV fiction titles produced in Europe between 2015-2019).

The M&A activity did not really impact the share of the U.S.-backed players or significantly contribute to the overall growth, but it did help bolster the top companies’ revenue in Europe. Company mergers were driven by strategies to obtain more premium content at competitive prices, seeking to pair that content with stronger distribution, aiming to build stronger mobile distribution, eyeing territorial expansion or refocusing on strongholds to strengthen existing market positions.

Although active in several AV market segments at the same time, most of the top companies operating in Europe tend to also hold a strong position in at least one additional activity. Specifically, for broadcasters and pay-TV operators, diversifying into TV production seems a common strategy and answer to the threat of on-demand over-the-top video services.

With the top four OTT platforms controlling over 70% of subscriptions, SVOD stands out as the most concentrated audiovisual market segment in Europe, followed by pay-TV with 72% of subscriptions cumulated by the top 20 pay-TV operators.

Even if under-represented in terms of volume, public broadcasters accounted for one-third of global viewing consumption in Europe and almost all of them were offering at least one on-demand service at the end of 2020.

Netflix reports fourth quarter (ended Dec. 31, 2021) financial results Jan. 2o.

HBO Max No. 3 SVOD in Spain Since Launching in October

Just a month after launch, HBO Max is reportedly the No. 3 streaming service in Spain, according to published data from Smartme Analytics.

WarnerMedia in late October launched HBO Max in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Spain and Andorra as part of a broader European rollout in 2022.

One month later, Max already has nearly 5% market penetration. The successor to HBO España, Max passed Disney+, which has 4.3% market penetration. Disney+ launched in Europe in March 2020. 

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Assisting Max’s rollout will be a 50% price cut on the standard €8.99 ($10.40) monthly fee through Nov. 30 for the lifetime of the subscription, unless canceled.

Spain’s SVOD market leader continues to be Netflix with 20.7% market share, followed by Amazon Prime Video with 8.7% share.

AT&T CFO: HBO Max Becoming ‘Top Two’ SVOD Competitor in Europe

HBO Max only began rolling out its subscription streaming video platform in Europe in September, with additional markets in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Spain and Andorra launched last month. The venerable brand is apparently resonating with European consumers.

Speaking Nov. 18 at the Morgan Stanley European Technology, Media & Telecom Conference in Dallas, AT&T CFO Pascal Desroches said Max has generated so much interest that it now rates highly in a SVOD market that includes Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video, among others. Desroches said that trends are in line with AT&T’s expectations.

AT&T CFO Pascal Desroches

“In fact, while it is still early, the initial data suggests that in most international markets Max is rising to become a top two direct-to-consumer provider in terms of subscribers and revenue,” Desroches said.

Given this, the executive said he feels good about Max’s global positioning and remains confident in its longer-term global expansion. AT&T now expects HBO and HBO Max to track between 120 million and 150 million subscribers worldwide by the end of 2025.

Strong numbers as AT&T attempts to finalize a minority ownership/majority control asset sale to WarnerMedia to Discovery Inc. Desroches said he continues to expect the transaction to close by mid-2022.

Peacock Begins Euro Expansion Through Sky

NBCUniversal’s Peacock streaming video platform Nov. 16 began its European rollout in the United Kingdom and Ireland through the distribution of original and catalog content via Sky, the Comcast-owned satellite pay-TV operator.

Peacock, which reported 54 million sign-ups and 20 million subscribers in September, will continue to roll out content across Sky platforms in Germany, Italy, Austria and Switzerland in the coming months, making it available to almost 20 million Sky subs.

Beginning today (Nov. 16), Sky TV customers and Now Entertainment members get early access to Peacock, featuring TV shows and movies from across NBCUniversal, that will be ramping up over the coming months.

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“Following its successful phased launch in the U.S., we are excited to mark the international debut of Peacock content in the U.K. and Ireland on Sky,” Lee Raftery, managing director for Europe, Middle East & Africa at NBCUniversal, said in a statement.

Peacock Originals include current series “Saved by the Bell,” “Rutherford Falls,” “Punky Brewster,” “The Girl in the Woods,” “Five Bedrooms” and “Vanderpump Rules,” in addition to upcoming series “MacGruber,” “Bel-Air,” “Joe Exotic” (working title), “Killing It,” “Vampire Academy,” “Irreverent,” “The Innocent,” “The Resort,” “The Missing,” “The Best Man,” “Angelyne,” “Ted” and “Battlestar Galactica.”

Current and classic TV Shows include “The Office,” “Parks and Recreation,” “30 Rock,” “Psych,” “Superstore,” “A.P. Bio,” “The Mindy Project,” “Will & Grace,” “Mr. Mayor,” “Young Rock” and “Saturday Night Live,” popular dramas such as “Battlestar Galactica,” “Monk,” “Bates Motel,” “Heroes,” “Friday Night Lights,” “12 Monkeys,” “Downton Abbey,” “House,” “Suits,” “Quantum Leap,” “Warehouse 13,” “The Equalizer” and “Grimm,” unscripted hits like “Keeping Up With the Kardashians,” and bingeable franchises including “Million Dollar Listing,” “Southern Charm,” “Below Deck,” “The Real Housewives” and “Top Chef.”

Movies include: The Best Man, Bird on a Wire, Bowfinger, Brüno, Bulletproof, Children of Men, Definitely, Maybe, Far and Away, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, The Game, Hanna, Hannibal, The Last House on the Left, MacGruber, A Million Ways to Die in the West, Meet Joe Black, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, Out of SightPride & Prejudice, Scent of a Woman, Seed of Chucky, A Simple Wish, The Skeleton Key, Tower Heist, United 93, Very Bad Things, What Dreams May Come, and You, Me, and Dupree.

HBO Max Launches Service in The Nordics, Spain — at Half Price

WarnerMedia’s branded subscription streaming service HBO Max officially launched service today (Oct. 26) in the Nordics (Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Iceland) and Spain. The debut is part of a 27-territory rollout in Europe through 2022.

As part of the rollout, all new subscribers through Nov. 30 will get 50% off the standard monthly price for the lifetime of their subscription. In Spain and Finland, for example, this means new subs pay €4.49 ($5.21) a month. This is in addition to the already announced annual subscription, which cuts the standard monthly fee 30% to $7.35.

HBO and HBO Max ended the most-recent fiscal period with almost 70 million global subs.

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Max Originals coming to HBO Max in Europe in the run up until Christmas include the reboot of “Gossip Girl,” the next chapter of “Sex in the City” with “And Just Like That …,” and Mindy Kaling’s “The Sex Lives of College Girls.” New European productions include the award-winning Danish drama “Kamikaze,” the second season of Norwegian hit “Beforeigners,” and the return of Juan Carrasco in “Venga Juan” and “Dafne and the Rest.”

Top movies coming to Max in the Nordics on launch day include Reminiscence, The Conjuring: The Devil Made Me Do It, Godzilla vs. Kong and Mortal Kombat. Warner Bros. movies premiere on Max 45 days after their theatrical release starting this year in the Nordics and next year in Spain, Portugal, Netherlands, Greece, Iceland and Central and Eastern Europe, including the Baltic nations.

“With the launch in Europe today, Max is now available in 46 territories globally,” Johannes Larcher, head of HBO Max International, said in a statement. “This is an important milestone as we continue to deliver on our ambition to roll out Max around the world with more territories to come in Europe and Asia next year.”

Max will be available to watch on leading devices and platforms, including smart-TVs (Samsung, LG and Android TV), via streaming devices (Apple TV 4K and Google Chromecast), game consoles (PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S) mobile and tablets (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch and Android), and online at HBO Max will also be available through selected TV distribution partners. Customers will be able to pay via major providers (Visa, Mastercard and PayPal) and via in-app purchase (Apple App Store and Google Play Store).

HBO Max offers up to five viewer profiles, three concurrent streams and no limit on devices per subscription. Select titles are available in 4K, 5.1 Sound and Dolby Atmos.

Data Suggests Sluggish HBO Max Rollout in Europe

Challenges affecting WarnerMedia’s rollout of the HBO Max subscription streaming service are well documented. Most-recently, Warner cautioned that the departure of the Max app from the Amazon Prime Channels platform could see it lose 5 million subscribers.

Now, new data from Digital TV Research contends the service’s launch across Europe is being undermined by existing distribution deals HBO has with regional pay-TV distributors. Indeed, Max will have a limited impact in Western Europe, with just 3.2 million paying subs across seven countries by 2026, according to the London-based research firm.

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“It is not expected to start in several key European countries due to existing long-term deals with pay-TV operators,” principal analyst Simon Murray said in a statement.

Sobering stats considering that when Max launched in the spring of 2020, it had failed to secure distribution through Amazon Fire TV and the Roku platform — the two gateways representing almost 70% of consumer interaction with streaming video.

Regardless, WarnerMedia parent AT&T expects global subscribers of between 120 million and 150 million for Max and HBO by the end of 2025.

Netflix remains the top streamer with 67 million subs by 2026, including up 10 million at the end of 2021. Disney+ will have 53 million subs by 2026 — double the tally at the end of this year, and just behind Amazon Prime Video.

Overall, there will be 238 million SVOD subs across 18 Western European countries in 2026, up from 167 million at the end of 2021. Germany will lead all countries, adding 17 million, followed Italy and France with 10 million each, and the U.K. with 9 million.

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.