Europe Wants More Production Support from US Streaming Services

Over the past few decades, the European film and television industry has steadily declined domestically and internationally. However, the rise of video-on-demand platforms such as Netflix and Prime Video has further worsened the situation, leading to a greater market dominance of American films and shows.

Given its market dominance and substantial legroom for growth, individual European countries have started introducing a labyrinth of regulatory mandates targeting US streamers.

Europe Takes Aim with Disjointed and Disproportionate Regulations

Europe’s film and television public funds are confronting a crisis as streaming platforms and other disruptive forces shake up traditional business models.

Over 20 production entities spanning Europe and beyond have united forces, embarking on a mission to rally local governments to champion the cause of regional film and television creators and urge major US streaming platforms to amplify their support for locally produced content.

To operate across Europe, streaming platforms like Netflix, Prime Video, and Disney+ must guarantee that at least 30% of the films in their online catalogs are “European works.” This quota encompasses not only the 27 EU member states but also countries like Britain, Turkey, and Switzerland. However, following Britain’s exit from the EU, France is spearheading efforts to remove UK productions from the list available for streamers to fulfill this requirement.

British films and shows were nearly as prominently featured throughout Europe in streaming platform catalogs as those from all EU27 countries combined. On average, British productions occupied 9% of the space on major streaming platforms, nearly one-third of the quota for European works. Moreover, this issue is exacerbated because most British productions are co-productions with American companies.

A report released by the European Commission last year highlighted the significant presence of British films and British-American co-productions in streaming platform catalogs. Speculation abounds that Brussels is contemplating removing the UK under the European works requirement, with many arguing that including British-American co-produced films inadvertently hinders the ability of European films to access international audiences.

European Funding and Tax Structures Draw Scrutiny

Delving into the intricacies of the European funding systems unveils a frustratingly convoluted network of relationships among various artistic and cultural stakeholders, constantly grappling with an overwhelming array of rules and regulations.

Europe’s film sector grapples with a dilemma rooted in its historical reliance on convoluted combinations of art and cultural funding mechanisms. These interventions have primarily aimed to uphold national cinemas and distributors in the face of Hollywood’s export prowess. However, the mounting challenge lies in reconciling these traditional systems with the emergence of global streaming platforms, necessitating their adaptation to prevent becoming obsolete.

Digitization and globalization of the sector have fundamentally altered the ecosystem and the business and operational concepts underpinning the entire value chain of film and television.

However, not all problems can be blamed on external forces. Generous public funds diverted to a small group of insiders connected to France’s film industry and inflated producer fees have resulted in a confounding system that produces 250 a year—less than half of which are completely non-performing financially.

In many cases, producers can exploit statutory windows to secure deals unrelated to the success or failure of their content.

France is not the only country that has come under fire. Germany’s film-funding system, which amounts to $655 million per year, has recently drawn government attention, criticized for an intricate network of federal and regional programs that are excessively slow, unpredictable, and insufficient.

Uncover What Streamers in Europe Pay for Content

Combining comprehensive data from multiple regional reports, you can accurately estimate and validate licensing rates for films and shows streaming throughout Europe.

FilmTake is your gateway to SVOD film and episodic licensing rates in dozens of European territories.

Choose flexible options for single territory downloads or all territories. 

Licensing Terms & Included Programs:

Value past, present, and future revenue for films and shows in multiple availability windows in the UK, France, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Scandinavia.

  • Motion Pictures: Pay-1, First Run, Second Window Features, Recent Library Features (Tiers AAA,A,B,C), Library Features (Tiers AAA,A,B,C), Current and Premium Made-For-TV Films and Direct-To-Video Films, covering many license periods over the last decade
  • Episodic TV: Current, Premium, Premium Catalog (1HR & 1/2HR), Catalog Series (1HR & 1/2HR), and Catalog Miniseries + Case Studies on Current Mega Hit, Catalog Mega Hit, and Premium Catalog, covering many licensing terms from 2012-2024
  • Because most-favored-nation rates operate in practice, the rates and terms apply to a diverse range of content and distributors worldwide in multiple availability windows.

US Streamers Dominate the European Landscape

Early in the streaming revolution, a few European distributors and broadcasters mounted a weak challenge to the US infiltrators, but without a meaningful commitment, they were forced to abandon a pan-European challenge.

Streaming platforms and studios have aggressively captured the European market for quite some time now. Netflix’s recent announcement that it poured $6 billion into the UK alone within four years ending in 2023 highlights the sheer magnitude of projects sweeping across Europe from US companies.

Likewise, this year, Netflix will spend around $8 billion of its $15.5 billion allocation on international content, a first for the streaming giant. This allocation includes Netflix’s locally focused original content for its international markets or the licensing of titles produced outside the United States.

Top 20 Streaming Services in Europe (2023)

In a recent discussion likely to unsettle European funders, Netflix boldly asserts itself as the primary architect of a pan-European cultural landscape, citing the surpassing of European subscribers over their North American counterparts for the first time in 2023.

Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) recently announced that Max will be introduced in several European markets throughout this year's second and third quarters, albeit at a very last start.

WBD's Max is set to roll out across the Nordics, Spain, Portugal, and central and eastern Europe starting in May. Following this, the service will debut in Poland, the Netherlands, France, and Belgium. 

HBO Max and Discovery Plus are presently accessible in certain countries, albeit not consistently in the same ones. However, they are sometimes unavailable, such as in France and Belgium. WBD faces a setback in launching its streaming service in the UK, the most significant market, until the conclusion of its distribution agreement with Sky in 2025.

FilmTake Away: Europe Aims to Regulate the Competition

While acknowledging their significant financial commitments, many countries are revising and introducing new legislation to demand even greater investment from US streaming services. 

Besides calls for expanding investment and production, many groups are calling for changes to intellectual property rights whereby creatives will retain certain rights to content produced for these platforms. 

Such measures are gaining interest across Europe, as they are seen as a means to boost the quality and quantity of local productions funded by streamers. The regulatory battle between European countries and US streamers is not over.