Netflix fires back at EU content quota
Update: Netflix has called out the EU’s content quotas as an ineffective way to boost local creativity.
In its third quarter earnings report, the streaming service assured that it would be able to meet the quotas, but that “quotas […] can negatively impact both the customer experience and creativity”. Instead of spending time and money on commissioning or creating content for every single member country of the EU, they’d “prefer to focus on making our service great for our members”.
The service even takes a jab at the EU, saying “we believe a more effective way for a country to support strong local content is to directly incentivize local content creators, independent of distribution”.
So far, Amazon hasn’t commented on the content quota. Nor have upcoming streaming services like Disney Streaming Service or Facebook Watch, which produce original content too (although Disney arguably doesn’t produce it for the streaming service).
Original article continues below…
It’s not surprising to hear as I’m sure you’ve logged on to either streaming service and noticed there’s very little European content, even when you’re in Europe. Someone at the European Union has also taken note of this, which is why the regulatory body is introducing a new content quota to ensure streaming services have a reasonable proportion of content created in and for the 28 member states.
When the quota becomes law in December of this year, streaming services have 20 months to ensure that at least 30% of content has been created in the EU. Individual countries are able to increase this to 40%, or request sub-quotas for content created specifically in the country. A preliminary agreement for the quota is in place, pending a vote that has been deemed by the head of the relevant European Commission department “a mere formality”.
The law would also require streaming services to increase the visibility and prominence of this European content. Since most streaming services recommend content based on user preferences, this will likely necessitate a change in the services’ interfaces and algorithms.
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It’s worth noting that Netflix is rather close to this figure anyway, with many Netflix Originals being produced in Europe, including the Portuguese 3% and Danish The Rain. However, Amazon and other streaming services still have some work to do.
The streaming services will have to reach the 30% mark through commissioning original content, buying local content, or contributing to regional film funds. The easiest way to hit this target would be to fund low-budget series and features, although they could also consider dropping poorly performing non-European content in order to sway the figures.
As well as increasing the amount of local content on streaming services, the EU is currently writing laws that increase the amount YouTube and similar services pay their writers and directors.
Of course, if a certain maligned political event goes ahead, you might not see a change in UK content on your favourite streaming service. But with the amount of great original content available out there, let’s hope some shows make their way over here.