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How does Europe manage the timing of film releases in cinemas, on DVD/VOD and on TV?

New IRIS Plus report on media windows just published
Strasbourg 06/11/2019
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How does Europe manage the timing of film releases in cinemas, on DVD/VOD and on TV?

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Day-and-date film release (simultaneously in cinemas and on DVD/VOD) is still a rarity in the European film market. In the States, a recent US survey found that only 5% of respondents were "definitely" willing to pay $50 to see a new film at home on the same day it opens in theaters. At half the price, the potential consumer base rose to a mere 13%. In Europe the system of release windows is a long-established industry norm. However the Netflix generation and streaming services have brought about a sea change in established practices by cutting out the cinema release altogether, hence the controversy surrounding Alfonso Cuaron’s ‘Roma’ produced by Netflix which managed to win Venice and three Oscars in spite of an extremely short theatrical release just before global streaming to over 130M people. The latest report by the European Audiovisual Observatory clarifies the release windows situation in Europe by providing a thorough analysis of the system and the economic and legal rationale on which it is based.

The authors open with a scene setting chapter in order to explain the various release windows. These are, classically and in chronological order, cinema release, followed by the various forms of paying VOD and physical video then pay TV and finally free-to-air broadcast. The time frames differ from country to country and the basis for each national system is either common trade practice, industry agreements, or national legislation. The order of release is simply based on the estimated willingness of consumers to pay more for earlier access to the film, hence: cinema – DVD - VOD – pay TV – free-to-air.

Chapter two delves briefly into pan-European legislation and its bearing on media windows. In fact, the Council of Europe laid the cornerstone for rule-making by stipulating a two year time-lapse between cinema and TV broadcast. These rules were finally abolished in favour of greater freedom for rightsholders. The main legal text in Europe – the Audiovisual Media Services Directive (AVMSD) – simply mentions the obligation for media service providers to not transmit films outside periods agreed with the rightsholders.

Chapter three zooms in on release windows at a national level. The authors examine the approach to media windows in Austria, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands and Sweden. Only two of these, France and Bulgaria, have adopted specific or general legislation on release windows. The other countries ensure the functioning of the system through film funding rules. In these countries, it should be noted that films which have received public funding are obliged to respect the release windows as stipulated in the funding rules, while films which have not received funding have no obligations at all.

Chapter four looks at self-regulatory approaches where the players themselves define the rules. In countries such as Belgium, Denmark, Spain and the UK, industry agreements or case-by-case contractual obligations form the basis for release windows. In Denmark, for example, an agreement between the Danish Cinema Association and the Association of Danish Film Distributors defines a holdback period of four months between cinema release and DVD/VOD. The UK functions without any specific holdback rules and individual negotiations tend to govern the release strategy of a film. In spite of this, day-and-date remains rare and in practice a 16-week theatrical window seems to be traditional.

Chapter five focuses on recent case law concerning release windows and refers to two court cases, one French (the Cinéthèque case of 11 May 1985) and one Dutch concerning the Nederlandse Federatie voor Cinematografie). In the former, the European Court of Justice upheld the windows principle even though the application of holdback rules could create effects forbidden by EU internal market rules and EU competition rules. The fact that the release windows system can be seen to promote film production was the deciding factor for both the Court and the Commission.

Chapter six closes with an overview of the state of play of release windows in Europe. The authors evoke the tensions involving major film festivals and the inclusion – or not – of films produced by and primarily destined for on demand platforms. Cannes has taken an ostensibly restrictive approach whereas Berlin and Venice have remained open to Netflix films, earning a wave of criticism. Observatory figures show that cinema admissions fell by 2.9% in 2018 year-on-year while SVOD grew by 45.7%. It is clear that two very distinct schools of thought are operating here: protecting the integrity of an initial cinema release and the entire windows structure, or making film distribution follow the technological possibilities offered by online streaming for more immediate delivery. Whatever future developments, this new publication offers a precise snapshot of the current state of release windows in Europe.


PUBLICATIONS 2018

21/12/2018 Authors (in alphabetical order) Francisco Javier Cabrera Blázquez, Maja Cappello, Enric Enrich, Julio Talavera Milla, Sophie Valais

IRIS Plus 2018-3: The legal framework for international co-productions

18/12/2018 Author: Martin Kanzler, Film Industry Analyst, Department for Market Information European Audiovisual Observatory

Fiction film financing in Europe: A sample analysis of films released in 2016

21/11/2018 Authors (in alphabetical order) Francisco Javier Cabrera Blázquez, Maja Cappello, Gilles Fontaine, Julio Talavera Milla, Sophie Valais European Audiovisual Observatory

IRIS Plus 2018-2: Brexit: The impact on the audiovisual sector

04/10/2018 Author: Laura Ene, Analyst European Television and On-demand Audiovisual Market European Audiovisual Observatory

TV news channels in Europe: Offer, establishment and ownership

20/09/2018 Authors:Nevafilm Research/ European Audiovisual Observatory

Key trends in Russian cinema

05/06/2018 Authors (in alphabetical order) Francisco Javier Cabrera Blázquez, Maja Cappello, Gilles Fontaine, Ismail Rabie, Sophie Valais

IRIS Plus 2018-1: The legal framework for video-sharing platforms

05/06/2018 Authors: Gilles Fontaine, Christian Grece & Marta Jimenez Pumares, European Audiovisual Observatory

Online video sharing: Offerings, audiences, economic aspects

02/03/2018 Authors: Christian Grece, Marta Jiménez Pumares, European Audiovisual Observatory

The origin of TV content in VOD catalogues - 2017 Edition

02/03/2018 Authors: Christian Grece, Marta Jiménez Pumares, European Audiovisual Observatory

The origin of films in VOD catalogues – 2017

26/01/2018 Authors: Carolina Arias Burgos, Alexandra Poch, Franciska Schönherr (European Observatory on Infringements of Intellectual Property Rights (European Union Intellectual Property Office)), Francisco Javier Cabrera Blázquez, Maja Cappello, Gilles Fontaine, Sophie Valais (European Audiovisual Observatory)

IRIS Plus 2017-3: Deposit systems for audiovisual works

09/10/2017 Author: Francisco Javier Cabrera Blázquez, Maja Cappello, Christian Grece, Sophie Valais, European Audiovisual Observatory

IRIS Plus 2017-2: Commercial communications in the AVMSD revision

2017  2016  2015  2014  2013

2017

Capello M. (ed.)
Deposit systems for audiovisual works           Print version available on our online shop
IRIS Plus 2017-3, European Audiovisual Observatory


Cappello M. (ed.)
Commercial communications in the AVMSD revision    Print version available on our online shop
IRIS Plus 2017-2, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2017


Cappello M. (ed.)
Media coverage of elections: the legal framework in Europe   Print version available on our online shop
IRIS Special, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2017


Cappello M. (ed.)
Exceptions and limitations to copyright    Print version available on our online shop
IRIS Plus 2017-1, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2017


Ene L.
Media Ownership: Children’s TV channels in Europe - Who are the key players?
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2017


Fontaine G. (ed.)
Yearbook 2016 - Key trends
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2017


Fontaine G.
The visibility of films and TV content on VOD
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, Novevmber 2017


Fontaine G. and Grece C.
Origin of films and TV content in VOD catalogues in the EU & Visibility of films on VOD services
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, November 2016


Fontaine G. and Simone P.
The access to film works in the collections of Film Heritage Institutions in the context of education and research
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, May 2017


Fontaine G. and Simone P.
VOD distribution and the role of aggregators
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, May 2017


Grece C.
Trends in the EU SVOD market - 2017 Edition
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg,  November 2017


Grece C.
The circulation of EU non-national films - A sample study: Cinema, television and transactional video on-demand
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, November 2017


Grece C.
The presence of broadcasters on video sharing platforms
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, October 2016


Grece C.
The online advertising market in the EU - Update 2015 and Focus on programmatic advertising
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, November 2016


Kanzler M. and Talavera Milla J.
FOCUS 2017 - World Film Market Trends       
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, April 2017


Schneeberger A.
Audiovisual services in Europe - Focus on services targeting other countries
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, June 2017

 

2016

Cappello M. (ed.)
Mapping of media literacy practices and actions in EU-28
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2016


Cappello M. (ed.)
Freedom of Expression, the Media and Journalists. Case-law of the European Court of Human Rights (edition 2016)
IRIS Themes, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2016


Cappello M. (ed.)
Smart TV and data protection        Print version available on our online shop
IRIS Special, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2016


Cappello M. (ed.)
Regional and local broadcasting in Europe        Print version available on our online shop
IRIS Special, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2016


Cappello M. (ed.)
Media ownership - Market realities and regulatory responses       Print version available on our online shop
IRIS Special, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2016


Cappello M. (ed.)
VOD, platforms and OTT: which promotion obligations for European works?   Print version available on our online shop
IRIS Plus 2016-3, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2016


Cappello M. (ed.)
Audiovisual sports rights – between exclusivity and right to information   Print version available on our online shop
IRIS Plus 2016-2, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2016


Cappello M. (ed.)
On-demand services and the material scope of the AVMSD  Print version available on our online shop
IRIS Plus 2016-1, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2016


Fontaine G. (ed.)
Yearbook 2015 - Key trends
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2016


Fontaine G. (ed.)
Films on television: Origin, age and circulation
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2016


Fontaine G. and Kevin D. (ed.)
Media ownership: towards pan-European groups?
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2016


Fontaine G. and Simone P. (ed.)
The Exploitation of Film Heritage Works in the Digital Era
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2016


Fontaine G. and Schneeberger A. (ed.)
Panorama Report: Linear and on-demand audiovisual media services in Europe 2015
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2016


Gorskaya T., Ivanova V., Kustov V., Leontyeva X., Luzhin A. and Trifonova J.
Film Production and Co-Production in Russia, and the Export of Russian Films Abroad
Nevafilm Research/European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2016


Горская T., Иванова В., Кустов В., Леонтьева К., Лужин А., Трифонова Ю.
Кинопроизводство И Копродукция В России.  Экспорт Российских Фильмов За Рубеж
Невафильм Research/Европейская аудиовизуальная обсерватория, 2016


Grece C. (ed.)
How do films circulate on VOD services and in cinemas in the European Union?
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2016


Kanzler M. (ed.)
The Circulation of European Films Outside Europe in 2015
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2016


Kanzler M. and Talavera J. (ed.)
Focus 2016. Word Film Market Trends. Tendances du marché mondial du film
Edited by the European Audiovisual Observatory
Marché du film / Festival de Cannes, Paris, 2016


Kevin D. and Schneeberger A.
Access to TV platforms: must-carry rules, and access to free-DTT
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2016


Vorontsova A. and Leontyeva X (ed.)
Focus on the Audiovisual Industry in the Russian Federation
Nevafilm Research/European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2016


Воронцова А., АЦ Vi Леонтьева К. (ed.)
Взгляд На Аудиовизуальную Индустрию Российской Федерации
Невафильм Research/Европейская аудиовизуальная обсерватория, 2016


Talavera J. (ed.)
Public financing for film and television content - The state of soft money in Europe
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2016

 

2015

Cappello M. (ed.)
Freedom of Expression, the Media and Journalists: Case-law of the European Court of Human Rights (Edition 2015)
IRIS Themes Vol. III, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2015


Cappello M. (ed.)
Annotated bibliography on copyright enforcement online
IRIS Bonus 2015-5, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2015


Cappello M. (ed.)
Annotated bibliography on territoriality and its impact on the financing of audiovisual works
IRIS Bonus 2015-4, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2015


Cappello M. (ed.)
Public service media remit in 40 European countries
IRIS Bonus 2015-3, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2015


Cappello M. (ed.)
Copyright enforcement online: policies and mechanisms
IRIS Plus 2015-3, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2015


Cappello M. (ed.)
Territoriality and its impact on the financing of audiovisual works
IRIS Plus 2015-2, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2015


Cabrera Blázquez F.J., Cappello M. and Valais S. (ed.)
IRIS 2015 - Legal Observations of the European Audiovisual Observatory
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2015


Cappello M. (ed.)
The protection of minors in a converged media environment
IRIS Plus 2015-1, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2015


Cappello M. (ed.)
Annotated bibliography on the protection of minors in a converged media environment 
IRIS Bonus 2015-2, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2015


Cappello M. (ed.)
Online activities of public service media: remit and financing Print version available on our online shop
IRIS Special, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2015


Ene L. and Grece C.
Origin of films in VOD catalogues in the EU 
DGCNCT Note 4, produced by the European Audiovisual Observatory on behalf of the European Commission, Strasbourg, 2015


Ene L. and Kevin D.
European fiction works on TV channels
DGCNCT Note A3, produced by the European Audiovisual Observatory on behalf of the European Commission, Strasbourg, 2015


Fontaine G.
Trends in linear television revenues 
DGCNCT Note B1, produced by the European Audiovisual Observatory on behalf of the European Commission, Strasbourg, 2015


Fontaine G.
The visibility of film on on-demand platforms: Germany, France and the United Kingdom 
DGCNCT Note 5, produced by the European Audiovisual Observatory on behalf of the European Commission, Strasbourg, 2015


Fontaine G. and Grece C.
Measurement of fragmented audiovisual audiences
DGCNCT Note 1, produced by the European Audiovisual Observatory on behalf of the European Commission, Strasbourg, 2015


Fontaine G. and Grece C.
Online advertising in the EU - Update 2014 
DGCNCT Note 2, produced by the European Audiovisual Observatory on behalf of the European Commission, Strasbourg, 2015


Fontaine G. and Schneeberger A.
Origin and availability of on-demand services in the European Union
DGCNCT Note A2, produced by the European Audiovisual Observatory on behalf of the European Commission, Strasbourg, 2015


Grece C. and Croce L.
The SVOD market in the EU developments 2014/2015
DGCNCT Note B2, produced by the European Audiovisual Observatory on behalf of the European Commission, Strasbourg, 2015


Grece C. and Croce L.
Trends in video-on-demand revenues 
DGCNCT Note 3, produced by the European Audiovisual Observatory on behalf of the European Commission, Strasbourg, 2015


Grece C., Lange A., Schneeberger A. and Valais S.
The development of the European market for on-demand audiovisual services
Report prepared by the European Audiovisual Observatory under a contract with the European Commission’s DG Connect, Strasbourg, March 2015


Jimenez M., Kevin D. and Talavera J.
Focus on Animation
Produced by the European Audiovisual Observatory on behalf of the European Commission, Strasbourg, 2015 (Downloadable from the European Commission's website)


Jimenez M., Simone P., Kevin D., Ene L. and Talavera J.
Mapping the Animation Industry in Europe
European Audiovisual Observatory on behalf of the European Commission, Strasbourg, 2015 (Downloadable from the European Commission's website)


Kanzler M.
The Theatrical Market of European Films Outside of Europe - Key Figures 2014
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2015


Kanzler M. and Talavera J.
Focus 2015. Word Film Market Trends. Tendances du marché mondial du film
Edited by the European Audiovisual Observatory
Marché du film / Festival de Cannes, Paris, May 2015


Kevin D.
Investments in original content by audiovisual services
DGCNCT Note B3, produced by the European Audiovisual Observatory on behalf of the European Commission, Strasbourg, 2015


Kevin D.
Snapshot: Regional and local television in Spain
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2015


Kevin D.
Snapshot: Regional and local television in the United Kingdom
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2015


Lange A.
Fiction on European TV channels (2006-2013)
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2015


Lange A. (ed.)
Yearbook 2014 - Television, cinema, video and on-demand audiovisual services - the pan-European picture Publication available on our online shop
European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2015


Richter Andrei & Richter Anya
Regulation of online content in the Russian Federation
IRIS Extra, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2015


Schneeberger A.
Origin and availability of television services in the European Union
DGCNCT Note A1, produced by the European Audiovisual Observatory on behalf of the European Commission, Strasbourg, 2015


Valais S.
Comparative tables on the protection of minors in audiovisual media services 
IRIS Bonus 2015-1, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, 2015

 

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Yearbook Online Service 2019/2020

The BEST SOURCE OF DATA on:• television • film • video • on-demand audiovisual services in 40 European countries and Morocco

Published: 16/11/2019

► 400 tables collecting more than 25 000 data
► 40 country data sheets
► Data from 2014 to 2018

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