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.

Comcast Ups European Expansion of U.S. Streaming Services With Apple TV+ Rollout

Comcast continues to do its part marketing third-party U.S. subscription streaming video across Europe, including a competitor to its proprietary Peacock platform, Apple TV+, on Dec. 14.

Since acquiring Sky for $31 billion, Comcast has redoubled the satellite TV operator’s marketing of SVOD services, including most recently Disney+ and Paramount+ (in 2022). In August, Comcast and ViacomCBS ironed out an agreement that will see Sky roll out Paramount+ in the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Italy and Germany, among other regions.

Media reports suggest ViacomCBS’s ad-supported streaming platform Pluto TV could soon be offered on Sky platforms as well — a move Comcast CEO Brian Roberts doesn’t seem to dissuade.

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“What that might lead us to consider at least would be a partnership where we have unique capabilities that could lead to or enhance our international distribution,” Roberts said on a recent fiscal call.

Roberts’ transition from resolute pay-TV cheerleader to embracing SVOD has been apparent ever since Comcast stopped the presses in 2016 by welcoming Netflix onto its set-top universe. In 2018, Comcast added the Netflix app to its cloud-based Xfinity platform, which also includes YouTube and Hulu — the latter co-owned by Comcast and Disney.

“Netflix is a great partner, and we are excited to offer its services to our customers in new ways that provide them with more choice, value and flexibility,” Sam Schwartz, EVP and chief business development officer at Comcast, said at the time.

In November, Sky announced it would renew free 12-month subscriptions to its VIP members for the third-party discovery+ streaming platform.

“We’re working together with our partners to deliver the best apps and experiences on our platforms,” Roberts said. “And our teams are sharing capabilities and collaborating across the company collectively drawing on our scale and leadership and broadband aggregation and streaming to innovate and profitably serve new and existing customers.”

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.

Sky CEO: TV Viewership Affects Climate Change

Sky CEO Dana Strong is asking broadcasters to work together to reduce carbon emissions across consumer households.

Speaking Nov. 1 at the United Nations’ 26th Climate Conference in Glasgow, Scotland, Strong said 70% of respondents of a Sky survey would be willing to change their behavior to address climate crisis, according to data from a joint study with Behavior Insights Team.

Using behavioral science techniques, Sky and BIT, in a report, identified ways broadcasters and content creators could help their viewers take action on reducing their carbon footprint.

Indeed, an estimated 4.3 billion people globally watch TV content on different devices for an average of 2 hours, 54 minutes a day, according to Sky.

The study found 80% of people across Europe support the idea of broadcasters using content and advertising to encourage people to adopt more environmentally positive habits. Of those asked, 75% support TV broadcasters encouraging viewers to think about the environment, whether that’s through documentaries, advertising or increasing the coverage of environmental issues in the news.

“At Sky we have set out our pathway to achieve net zero carbon, but we know this alone will not be enough,” Strong said.

The executive said broadcasters have a role and responsibility to encourage lifestyle changes that address the climate crisis. At the same time, many respondents said they are unsure how to make lifestyle changes to reduce their carbon impact. In fact, only 16% of respondents said they knew what to do to act sustainably, while just 20% said they know how to recycle or save energy at home.

“This means that for the first time we have empirical evidence demonstrating [the need that] creative industries work together to deliver the behavior change required to meet our net zero ambitions,” Strong said.

Strong’s comments are noteworthy because Comcast-owned Sky is Europe’s largest satellite TV operator with 23 millions subscribers. The media giant and its subsidiary also just launched a line of branded “Glass” HDTVs marketed as conduits to the internet and streaming video.

David Halpern, CEO of BIT, said people’s attitudes are significantly shaped by the media they consume. They also expect and encourage broadcasters to do more to educate and inspire viewers to do their bit for the environment.

“We hope this report will provide broadcasters with actionable and evidence-based insights on how they can do their bit to avert the climate crisis,” Halpern said.

Comcast-Owned Sky Bows Smart ‘Glass’ TV That Doesn’t Require Satellite Hookup

Taking a page from the Roku playbook, Comcast-owned subsidiary Sky Oct. 7 announced the launch of a branded television that connects with streaming apps without the requirement of its namesake satellite dish.

Called “Sky Glass,” the new streaming TV will be available to buy in the U.K. Oct. 18 with monthly subscriptions starting at £13 (plus the cost of the TV), and will launch in Sky’s other European markets in 2022. The Sky Glass HDTVs come in 43-inch, 55-inch and 65-inch screen sizes. A separate “Sky Puck” enables users to access Sky Glass via third-party devices.

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The TVs feature Ultra HD and Quantum Dot technology, 360-degree Dolby Atmos sound with built-in speakers and sub-woofer. Users can talk to their TV to find what to watch. Sky claims the units to be the world’s first TV to be certified as a “CarbonNeutral” product.

“Sky Glass is the streaming TV with Sky inside, providing the total integration of hardware, software and content,” CEO Dana Strong said in a statement. “Built on over 30 years of understanding what our customers want, this is a TV that only Sky could make. We believe this is the smartest TV available, and that customers will love it.”

Strong said the streaming revolution has brought a “whole new set of challenges” underscored by increased cord cutting by traditional pay-TV subscribers.

“Most people use multiple apps to find content but these experiences can feel fragmented and we end up spending more time searching for content than sitting back and enjoying it. In our already complex lives, we need things to be simple and this will dramatically simplify experiences and transform the role of TV in the home.”

The technology mirrors what Roku did in 2014 when it launched a line of Chinese-made TVs that don’t require a separate streaming device or cable, satellite connection.

Pluto TV Launching Italian Service Oct. 28

ViacomCBS’s expansion of digital assets worldwide continues. The media giant has partnered with Comcast-owned satellite TV distributor Sky on multiple projects, including the planned Oct. 28 debut of FAST platform Pluto TV. Sky Media will serve as Pluto’s Italian advertising sales partner.

The debut will mark Italy’s first operating FAST service, which precludes the 2022 debut of Paramount+ in the European country. Pluto TV currently has more than 50 million active monthly users across 25 countries.

“ViacomCBS is rapidly expanding its global streaming footprint, connecting consumers with a vast library of great content across free and pay platforms worldwide,” Olivier Jollet, SVP and GM of Pluto TV, said in a statement.

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Channels available at launch include Pluto TV Azione, Pluto TV Cinema Italiano, Pluto TV Drama and Pluto TV Real Life, in addition to content from myriad third parties including Lionsgate, Minerva, KidsMe, Banijay Rights and Cineflix Rights, among others.

“This further strengthens Sky Media’s portfolio in terms of digital platforms, audience and content,” said Evelyn Rothblum, EVP of advertising, partnerships and distribution at Sky Italy and Sky Deutschland.

Sky, ViacomCBS Set to Launch Paramount+ in Western Europe in 2022

Comcast’s satellite TV operator Sky and ViacomCBS International are set to launch the Paramount+ subscription streaming video platform in Western Europe in 2022. The two companies Aug. 18 announced that Paramount+ will launch on Sky platforms in the U.K., Ireland, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Austria as part of a new multiyear distribution agreement that also includes the extended carriage of ViacomCBS’s portfolio of pay-TV channels and the renewal of Sky as an ad sales partner in select markets.

Paramount+ is the latest third-party content app to come to Sky Q, adding more than 10,000 hours of content, and furthering Sky’s strategy congregating access to content in one place.

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“This transformative distribution deal is key to accelerating our global ambitions in streaming while also supporting Sky’s strategic objectives to better serve audiences with greater flexibility in how they consume our content across all platforms,” Raffaele Annecchino, CEO of ViacomCBS Networks International, said in a statement.

Upon launch, Sky Cinema subs will get Paramount+ included at no additional cost. As part of this partnership, Paramount Pictures’ feature films will remain available on Sky Cinema in the U.K. and will join Sky Cinema in Germany and Italy in 2022. All other Sky customers will be able to subscribe to Paramount+ as an add-on to their account.

Paramount+ will also be available direct-to-consumer in UK, Ireland, Italy and GSA through the Paramount+ app for iOS and Android and across supported connected TV devices and OTT platforms. Pricing and local content offering will be announced at a later date.

Movies that will become available through 2022 in the U.K., Ireland, Italy and other countries include a collection of scripted, exclusive Paramount+ originals and new takes on film franchises, including HaloThe Offer and the new “iCarly” series. As the international home of Showtime, the service will offer “The Man Who Fell to Earth,” “Ripley,” “Super Pumped” and “American Gigolo,” in addition to titles from ViacomCBS, such as “Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years,” “Star Trek: Prodigy,” and “MTV Unplugged.” The service will also feature a collection of new premieres and classics from the “Mission: Impossible” and “Transformers” movie franchises.

“Paramount+ is an excellent service with a huge range of fantastic films and TV series, and our new, broader agreement with ViacomCBS will benefit both businesses,” said Stephen van Rooyen, EVP and chief executive for U.K. and Europe at Sky.

In addition, ViacomCBS and Sky reached a multiyear extension for carriage of ViacomCBS’s linear channels — including Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon — in the U.K., Ireland, Italy and other European countries.

ViacomCBS also renewed its multiyear agreement with Sky as an ad sales partner for all platforms and channels in the U.K. and Italy. Sky Media will continue to handle ad sales across the ViacomCBS portfolio of channels, including Channel 5 in the UK, where ViacomCBS and Channel 5 will benefit from Sky Media’s innovation in addressable advertising.

ViacomCBS Partners With Sky to Launch Paramount+ in Europe

ViacomCBS Networks International (VCNI) and Sky on Aug. 5 announced that Paramount+ will launch on Sky platforms in the U.K., Ireland, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and Austria in 2022.

The launch is part of a new multiyear distribution agreement that also includes the extended carriage of ViacomCBS’s pay-TV channels and the renewal of Sky as an ad sales partner in select markets.

VCNI is a division of ViacomCBS and Sky is part of Comcast Corporation.

“We are thrilled to expand our long-standing partnership with Sky to continue delivering ViacomCBS’s leading portfolio of premium entertainment brands to Sky customers and importantly bring Paramount+ to new audiences in all Sky markets,” VCNI CEO Raffaele Annecchino said in a statement. “This transformative distribution deal is key to accelerating our global ambitions in streaming while also supporting Sky’s strategic objectives to better serve audiences with greater flexibility in how they consume our content across all platforms.”

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Paramount+ is the latest in a series of apps to come to Sky Q, adding more than 10,000 hours of content, further enhancing Sky’s aggregation strategy, and enabling Sky customers to watch even more of the best content together in one place on the Sky Q platform.

Stephen van Rooyen, EVP and CEO of the U.K. and Europe at Sky, said the partnership underscores a win-win situation for both companies while aggregating content apps and content on Sky Q.

“Paramount+ is an excellent service with a huge range of fantastic films and TV series, and our new, broader agreement with ViacomCBS will benefit both businesses,” van Rooyen said.

Upon launch, Sky Cinema subscribers will get Paramount+ included at no additional cost. As part of this partnership, Paramount Pictures’ feature films will remain available on Sky Cinema in the U.K. and will join Sky Cinema in Germany and Italy in 2022. All other Sky customers will be able to subscribe to Paramount+ as an add-on to their account.

Titles that will become available through 2022 in the U.K., Ireland, Italy and GSA include a collection of scripted, exclusive Paramount+ originals and exciting new takes on iconic franchises, including HALOThe Offer and the new iCarly series. As the international home of SHOWTIME, the service will offer The Man Who Fell to Earth, Ripley, Super Pumped and American Gigolo, in addition to popular titles from ViacomCBS, such as Kamp Koral: SpongeBob’s Under Years, Star Trek: Prodigy and MTV Unplugged. The service will also feature a collection of new movie premieres and fan favorites from Paramount Pictures such as films from the “Mission: Impossible” and “Transformer” franchises.

In addition, ViacomCBS and Sky reached a multiyear extension for carriage of ViacomCBS’s linear channels — including Comedy Central, MTV and Nickelodeon — in the U.K., Ireland, Italy and GSA. The channels will be complemented by a strong selection of box sets, giving customers the flexibility to watch the content they love whenever and wherever they want.

ViacomCBS also renewed its multiyear agreement with Sky as an ad sales partner for all platforms and channels in the U.K. and Italy. Sky Media will continue to handle ad sales across the ViacomCBS portfolio of channels, including Channel 5 in the U.K., where ViacomCBS and Channel 5 will benefit from Sky Media’s market-leading innovation in addressable advertising.

Other terms of the agreements were not disclosed.

Paramount+ will also be available direct-to-consumer in U.K., Ireland, Italy and GSA through the Paramount+ app for iOS and Android and across supported connected TV devices and OTT platforms. Pricing and local content offering will be announced at a later date.

WarnerMedia, ViacomCBS, Sky Partner to Launch Captions on U.K. Children’s Programming

In a move to improve literacy among young children, WarnerMedia, ViacomCBS and Comcast-owned Sky have partnered on a platform called “Turn on the Subtitles” to roll out captioning on more than 500 episodes of children’s programming in the United Kingdom.

Poor literacy skills can hold a person back throughout their life and currently one in four children in the U.K. leave primary school without being able to read fluently. Turning on same-language subtitles for children’s content can double the chance of them becoming a proficient reader.

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“By providing a range of our best-loved titles from Cartoon Network and Boomerang, such as ‘The Amazing World of Gumball’ and ‘Be Cool,’ and ‘Scooby-Doo,’ we hope to contribute to improving children’s reading skills across the U.K. and Ireland,” Vanessa Brookman, head of kids at WarnerMedia EMEA, said in a statement.

Eye-tracking behavior research shows that 94% of children engage with subtitles while watching their favorite shows which can improve spelling, grammar and vocabulary, with the child often unaware they are learning.

The Sky Kids subtitled collection has been curated with some of the most popular children’s content, including “SpongeBob SquarePants” (Nicktoons), “PAW Patrol” (Nick Jr.), and Sky Kids Originals such as “Pirates Love Underpants” and “Moominvalley.”

“Some ideas are so powerful that something must be done about them,” Oli Barrett MBE, co-founder of Turn on the Subtitles, said in a statement. “Subtitles improving literacy is one of those ideas. This campaign takes an incredibly simple insight and uses it to improve people’s lives.”

Comcast’s Sky Inks Movie Distribution Deal With StudioCanal

Sky, the Comcast-owned European satellite TV distributor, and StudioCanal, the world’s No. 3 movie library, Jan. 18 announced a partnership to afford Sky’s 24 million subscribers access to hundreds of hours of movies on Sky Q and separately on Now TV.

Under the deal, StudioCanal’s titles scheduled for release this month will be brought to Sky Cinema and Now TV after their theatrical release. Customers will get access to upcoming titles, including 2021 Awards hopeful Supernova, JoJo Moyes adaptation The Last Letter From Your Lover, female action thriller Gunpowder Milkshake, and Benedict Cumberbatch and Claire Foy starring in The Electrical Life of Louis Wain.

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In addition to the theatrical slate, from the start of 2021 movies from StudioCanal’s existing library will be brought onto Sky Cinema and Now TV. Titles include Paddington and Paddington 2, A Shaun The Sheep Movie: Farmageddon, as well as action titles Legend and Logan Lucky and award-winning movies The Imitation Game and The Hurt Locker.

“At Sky, we’re committed to bringing customers everything they love, in one place, and our partnership with StudioCanal is another step toward doing just that,” Sarah Wright, director of Sky Cinema & acquisitions, Sky U.K., said in a statement.

StudioCanan and Sky previously worked together on two Sky Originals — The Secret Garden, based on the classic children’s novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and Blithe Spirit, a reimagining of Noël Coward’s classic comedy, which premiered on Jan. 15. The deal also follows the announcement in December of a multiyear pay-TV and streaming rights deal between Sky Deutschland and StudioCanal across all Sky distribution channels in Germany and Austria.

In the latter part of 2020, Sky finalized a new multiyear European partnership with Amazon, launching Prime Video on Sky and Now TV devices, and signed a long-term partnership with Entertainment One, bolstering Sky Cinema’s offerings.

“We are delighted to be bringing our exciting upcoming line up of films and the glories of the StudioCanal catalog to the fantastic and ever evolving Sky platform,” said Alex Hamilton, CEO StudioCanal U.K. “We look forward to a great collaboration together over the coming months and beyond.”