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Summary:

The European Commission wants to make it easier for digital services to offer content across the bloc’s national borders. Now research examines whether citizens want it as much as operators do.

One of the European Commission’s biggest ongoing digital initiatives is a multi-pronged approach to creating a “single market for digital content“.

That plan would, for example, harmonise the currently fractured entertainment licensing regimes to ensure online services can offer music, TV and more across national borders.

But do Europeans really want to get digital content from other member states? Research conducted for the EC and released this week is instructive for services thinking of benefitting from the single market, showing:

  • Nineteen percent of Europeans are interested in receiving content from another EU country.
  • That is only two percent more than the 17 percent of consumers who already do so, primarily by TV.
  • Only three percent of citizens polled by TNS Opinion & Social said they were interested in receiving VOD from across European borders.

These figures do not suggest massive pent-up cross-border demand for online content services that want to upturn traditional licensing structures and smash through national boundaries. But, as is often the case, perhaps potential consumers don’t know what they really want until it is truly on offer.

Photo: Shutterstock / Silver Tiger

The prospect of a single market is nevertheless great news for Europe’s content production powerhouses. The UK is the country from which most interested citizens (42 percent) want foreign content, followed by Germany and France.

And, of those who are interested in getting content from outside their home nation, 31 percent say they are prepared to pay for it — 14 percent by subscription and 17 percent by pay-per-view or per-listen.

But the numbers of Europeans who want to consume content from elsewhere in Europe is broadly similar to the proportion who want it from outside Europe, too. Sixteen percent said they wanted to do so (12 percent for TV programmes, three percent for VOD and one percent for other), with U.S. content by far the most desirable.

And people are more prepared to pay for this non-EU content than for that from elsewhere in Europe – 19 percent via subscription, 21 percent via pay-per-view or per-listen.

The biggest reason for the findings is linguistic. Citizens may not desire TV shows or music from neighbouring countries since they are in different languages, but many are attracted to English-language content.

One positive outlook is that younger, more up-market consumers are more inclined to want cross-border content.

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  1. Hard to imagine Estonian content may sell more than the one in English

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