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Monday, May 18, 2020

Europeans Want U.S. Streamers to Pay for Local Content

European film and TV producers/distributors say they are being forced out of the entertainment marketplace due to the Wuhan virus and replaced by content originated by the U.S. streaming giants (principally Netflix, Amazon, Apple, and Disney). 

There is great concern that European based production companies will not be able to compete given the high cost they will incur complying with protocols and insurance coverage in the post-virus world. This concern has prompted the European Commissioner for Internal Markets to create a taskforce comprised of "local" film and TV industry participants to define the threats to the local entertainment "ecosystem" and implement measures to alleviate the negative impact.

Key issues for the Europeans are: financing, insurance, and enforcing a level playing-field by having the global streamers "participate" in the recovery of the local entertainment industry. The EU is leaning toward the "participation" to be  direct monetary infusion and not just pumping money into European productions that play on the giant streamers' platforms. If not forthcoming, than there has been talk of enacting a "digital tax" on the streamers.

I believe that the international streamers will pony-up and provide funding for local European productions and/or provide investment or grants to offset the higher production costs due to the virus. For example, the giants can self-insure their productions whereas a local producer can not.

A healthy film and TV industry, including cinema, local/regional TV productions, and indie produced content for streaming is in the best interests of the streamers. So, I predict that Netflix will provide funding to see that the local European content producers/distributors survive in a post-virus environment.

Jim Lavorato

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