Apple is searching for European TV shows and movies to bulk out its Apple TV+ streaming service, as new rules to be introduced by the European Commission will force all streaming services to up the proportion of EU-made content.
As reported by Variety, the EU wants to introduce legislation by the end of 2020 that at least 30% of streaming service catalogs must be composed of European-produced content. If Netflix, Disney+, or Apple do not comply, it could become illegal for them to offer their video service in the region.
The quota is yet to be finalized, so we don’t know whether the measurement of the 30% share will be based on number of titles, duration, or maybe level of financial investment. However, the rule is expected to be clarified by the end of the year, with enforcement beginning in late 2020.
This means that the streaming services need to start making content deals now to be ready when the deadline arrives. Variety says that Amazon Prime Video and Netflix’s catalogs are already close to meeting the 30% mark based on number of titles. Disney+ may struggle, as only about 4.7% of its ~1000-title launch catalog will come from European production houses.
Apple is also in trouble, as none of its launch shows will qualify as European-produced. However, as it is launching with a smaller catalog of originals only, it needs to offer less European content in absolute terms to meet the 30% quota. Variety says Apple is currently negotiating with at least three European producers for shows:
European titles in negotiation to join Apple TV’s pipeline include Faceless, a thriller produced by France’s Leonis and Britain’s Artists Studio and cowritten by Virginie Brac (Spiral), and an English-language period series also produced between Britain and France. Apple also has an animated show in development with Gaumont.
There may be even more stringent rules for streaming services in select countries. Variety points out that France is currently tabling a proposal that would mean that 16% of revenues from French subscribers must be invested in local and European content. Although it seems unlikely any of the big players would eschew Europe as a whole, it is possible that streaming services may simply decide to not bother trying to meet the French quotas and simply not offer their service in that country.
We have already seen Apple ramp up hiring for European-specific content, having hired Jay Hunt from UK broadcaster Channel 4 to become Apple’s creative director for European worldwide video. As Apple TV+ evolves and grows, the company wants to start offering language- and region-specific content. For the service’s debut, Apple has said that all shows will be produced in English and will come with subtitles and/or audio dubs in nearly 40 foreign languages.
Apple TV+ launches on November 1, priced at $4.99/month with a slate of about nine original TV shows and movies, with more being added every month. Apple is giving away a free year of Apple TV+ with the purchase of a new Apple TV, iPad, iPod touch, Mac, or iPhone. So everyone who buys a new Apple product as of September 1 — with the notable exception of Apple Watch — will be able to redeem a free year of Apple TV+ when the service goes live.
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