Spain Lawmakers Seeking 8% Tax on Foreign OTT Video Services

Lawmakers in Spain are looking to impose an 8% tax on over-the-top video services operating in the country, including Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime Video, Sky Now and DAZN.

The so-called RTVE (Radio Television Espanola) tax is aimed at funding Spain’s ad-free public broadcaster, which has been undermined in recent years by plummeting advertising sales among commercial broadcasters, who contribute about 1.5% of their revenue to RTVE’s budget.

The proposed tax is incorporated in the Audiovisual Media Services Directive, which aims to level the playing among broadcasters such as Atresmedia and Mediaset, pay-TV operators/telecoms (Movistar, Telefónica España, Orange and Vodafone) and now OTT video.

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The updated law would impose a 5% tariff on in-state SVOD revenue earmarked toward domestic film production, and another 3% directed toward RTVE.

According to Spanish media site El Español, the tax would apply to revenue generated by an OTT service’s Spanish subscribers. As a result, HBO would be charged a percentage of the revenue generated by its 475,000 Spanish subs, instead of the company’s reported revenue based on the location of its tax-incentivized fiscal headquarters.

The tax  could become law by the end of the year.

Separately, local and national governments worldwide continue to search for ways to tap into the lucrative OTT landscape — with varying degrees of success.

Georgia lawmakers in February backed away from imposing a 4% tax on subscription streaming video services. The tax is still on the table for music services, video games and e-books.

“People didn’t like what has become known as the Netflix tax, so we took that off,” Rep. Bill Werkheiser told the media. “The effort initially was to help fund broadband. It won’t do that without the Netflix or streaming services tax.”

‘Très Bien’: Netflix Dominates French VOD Consumption

After a sluggish start, Netflix France has finally established solid footing since launching in the country five years ago.

The subscription streaming video pioneer, which once faced strong criticism from state-subsidized local media and allegations the service would destroy France’s “cultural exception” — especially at the box office, started strong in 2019, capturing more than 52% of all video-on-demand consumption in January, according to Harris Interactive and CNC.

Netflix surpassed Canal Plus (4.76 million subs) with 5 million subscribers, which prompted the French pay-TV operator to launch a new service – Canal+ Séries– focusing on TV shows, including programming from Showtime, FX and others.

On-demand digital programming continues to grow in popularity among the French, with 18% of users watching delayed content, up 2.5% from January 2018.

Nearly 12% consumed transactional VOD content, down 1.6% from 2018, while digital sales of movies and TV shows increased 6.1%.

In January this year, 52.6% of people watching on-demand programming opted for Netflix – up more than 8% compared to January 2018. By comparison, 19.7% consumers chose MyTF1 VOD and 19.5% on Orange.

Amazon Prime Video generated 15.3%, with Google Play and Apple iTunes at 8.2% and 7.5%, respectively.

Indeed, Netflix France ended January with 2.6 times more users than MyTF1 VOD. Not surprisingly, nine Netflix series ranked among the Top 10 programs viewed.