The European Commission is about to require Netflix, Amazon, and other video streaming companies to dedicate at least 30 percent of their catalogs to locally produced content, Variety reports today. A final vote approving the change is expected in December.
Superficially, the new rules wouldn’t necessarily have a huge impact on streaming companies: Netflix is already reportedly close to having 30 percent European content, and the European Union will soon publish a report showing the percentages of European works across multiple streaming platforms. To comply with the rules, any service operating within the EU could merely maintain a similar “European” fraction of its overall catalog. However, specifics of the commission’s plan could add serious complications that effectively fragment both a service’s catalog and pricing depending on the country where it’s being viewed.
According to the report, the law will give each of the European Union’s 28 member states 20 months to apply the laws, allowing each country to choose whether to raise the European quota from 30 to 40 percent, as well as whether to have a country-specific sub-quota for local production. Individual countries could also choose to require surcharges to support their national production funds. Consequently, Amazon Video in France might require 10 percent French content, or Germany’s popular Netflix would need to hike prices to subsidize other companies’ production efforts.
Video services will be able to meet the content requirements by acquiring European content, commissioning content within Europe, or paying into national production funds. The results will be increased prominence and visibility of European productions on on-demand catalog services, as well as keeping more money in Europe rather than seeing it all flow out to international streaming companies.
Requirements of locally produced content might be new to video streaming services, but they’ve been mandated in some countries’ traditional broadcast channels for decades. For instance, the Broadcasting Act of Canada requires radio and television stations to air between 20 and 60 percent Canadian content, depending on the nature of the station.