Insights > VoD save the films
21 Feb 2008

VoD save the films

VoD services are fast developing, and the year to come will see several new film distribution applications via the VoD technologies. The new MEDIA support scheme of VoD projects announced last July 2007, its first selection of eligible production, and distribution companies. Another important related event will be the focused public consultation for the adoption of a Recommendation on Creative Content Online for which, the Commission is inviting all stakeholders to take position by 29/02/2008.

The developments in digital distribution through the internet may go fast, but evolving in the VoD environment is still like exploring a new universe. The sector is often blamed for its lack of transparency and the main players are reluctant to provide their figures. There is a lack of available data on existing films catalogues, on the potential audience, a lack of data on the number of visits to VoD services, and on the total number of downloads of individual titles. Therefore, the production and distribution companies that are willing to explore these new distribution opportunities should be aware of the hard investment and competition context.

In this nearly blank universe, the European Audiovisual Observatory study, edited by NPA Conseil, is a valuable contribution. Presented during its workshop on VoD at the Cannes Film Festival in May 2007, the research offers clear information on the current Market. Who are the players that are competing for this new version of the “home-cinema of tomorrow”? For the moment, these are represented by three main groups: TV channels, “contents aggregators”, and the Telecom. From the study, it appears that the film sector itself (production companies, distributors, film associations) is a rather small segment in regard to this emerging new film market.

The dominant players of the VoD scene are the TV editors. The VoD services that these offer are generally limited to “catch-up TV” where a programme can be watched online, after it was broadcasted.

Contents aggregators constitute the second group. It includes various companies, and institutions that are able to create catalogues of rights likely to be distributed in VoD. This segment is large; it goes from commercial chains such as FNAC and Virgin, to film bodies that manage archives such as the INA (Institut national de l'audiovisuel) in France.  During the recent years, an important number of companies have been set up with the purpose of offering film catalogues and becoming content aggregators in the perspective of VoD developments, this was mostly visible in the Netherlands.

The European Audiovisual Observatory study, presents also the role of the third player; the Telecom operators which are the newcomers on the market for the distribution of content. The study considers that in 2006, the Telecom was the most active of the three main players in terms of diversity of offer, and innovation. The study analyzes the different technologies and economic models for video-on-demand, and it also presents some figures on Asian Films distribution in European VoD.

VoD for You?
Among the 12 production and distribution companies, which projects were accepted by MEDIA, many will see their VoD film platform launched during the next three months. Some of these, such the Hungarian Filmklik has already made its 80 titles and payment methods available. HOMESCREE TV – an “Art-House” platform with VoD services (for an audience of 25-55) throughout the Benelux region is predicted to be launched on April the first, 2008.

What are the challenges and strategies to secure VoD ideas in the developing process? The launch of these film platforms will be cautiously analyzed in Ljubljana and in Brussels. And, for these films that cannot find a commercial distribution, there is hope. But the question will also be “VoD save the film?”


(*)  Study on VoD in Europe
On the occasion of the Cannes International Film Market, the French Directorate for the Development of the Media (Direction du développement des médias - DDM) and the European Audiovisual Observatory have published a study on the development of video-on-demand (VoD) in 24 European countries (Study based on 24 European countries – 22 EU ASEM countries + Iceland and Turkey) (Read)

Presentation of the report at the Marché du Film 2007in Cannes (PDF)

Be informed that VoD is now considered as "existing" technologies and therefore would normally (except in cases of significant innovation) not be considered eligible as Pilot Projects.

FAQ regarding the application, the applicant, the co-ordinator or the co-beneficiaries