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Jean-Yves Bloch, Silvia Cibien, Maxime Lacour, William Page, Weerada Sucharitkul • EuroVoD

"From now on, we will focus on promoting VoD in Europe and defending European audiovisual works"

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- At the Venice Film Festival, Cineuropa met up with EuroVoD’s board of directors, who offered us some new perspectives on a market in a state of radical upheaval

Jean-Yves Bloch, Silvia Cibien, Maxime Lacour, William Page, Weerada Sucharitkul  • EuroVoD

Cineuropa met up with the team behind EuroVoD at the Venice Film Festival, where the association of European VoD platforms organised a training session focused on the current state of the sector, involving more than 50 participants. This gathering allowed attendees to take stock of EuroVoD’s new strategies and to discuss the future of the market.

We talked to president Jean-Yves Bloch, executive director Silvia Cibien and three members of the board of directors, Maxime Lacour, William Page and Weerada Sucharitkul.

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Cineuropa: EuroVoD has recently had an overhaul. What are the new aspects of the association that you are showing off?
Jean-Yves Bloch (Le Meilleur du Cinéma/UniversCiné):
 EuroVod is indeed beginning a new era. This association was created as a private club with a programme centred on pooling both technology and capital. We have made a change in direction in terms of our strategy over the past year. From now on, we will focus on one fundamental pillar: promoting VoD in Europe and defending European audiovisual works. We want to fulfil this objective through training, market research and lobbying activities directed at the European institutions. We also want to become an intermediary that gives more structure to and champions the European platforms in the face of the different national and international film legislations.

Why are you here at the Venice Film Festival?
Silvia Cibien:
 The first initiative we’ve implemented is the European VoD Meetings. We’re at Venice with this initiative, which is a professional training session that unfolds across two modules – the first here in Venice and the second six months later in Berlin. This is the first time that the European platforms working with independent cinema have met. Our participants are the managers of the platforms, but also the technical and marketing heads. It’s a place for brainstorming and sharing expertise. It’s also a chance to have an exchange of information, which is lacking in certain organisations. We realised that there are shared desires and interests. There are also a lot of projects on the go that could be of interest to the whole sector. This first edition enables people to get to know each other as well as to present projects. We’ve concentrated on the most pressing issues right now, such as piracy, for example.

We are also working with the European Audiovisual Observatory to study the market. The observatory doesn’t have any data on European independent platforms, so we are going to address this problem in Berlin with a study on catalogues and heritage.

What can you tell us about today’s European VoD market?
Jean-Yves Bloch:
 After existing for around ten years, the VoD market has entered an initial mature phase. It’s important not only to do brainstorming, but also to harvest the genuine knowledge that is out there, but which is scattered and fragmented. It’s absolutely the right time to round up and consolidate this savoir-faire.

Today, we know what works and what doesn’t. We know what the market is like and what it will be like in future.

Firstly, access to rights is an absolutely crucial factor for success. The battle over copyrights that was predicted ten years ago has become a reality. The platforms that exist and are successful are those that, by dint of either editorial quality, political ties or capacity to invest, are able to group together catalogues and products. We have seen that the market trend is tending towards fairly numerous products. Even the more modest-sized companies have huge catalogues.

The other key to success is to have a clearly defined service. You have to know whom you’re targeting. We see that there are some gigantic global players and others that are more local. In EuroVoD, we’re convinced that if you have a continent-wide scale, that’s of major strategic importance, even for niche players.

Today, VoD has become a solid line of business within the audiovisual sector. There is no more room for amateurs or for companies who do a bit of VoD on the side amongst their other activities. You need clout and dedicated teams. VoD is now a cornerstone of exhibition in this industry. On the question of technology and algorithms, it’s harder to adopt firm, clear-cut positions.

Let’s look at a specific example: how is the VoD market structured in the UK?
William Page, Weerada Sucharitkul (FilmDoo & Fassoo):
 In the UK and Ireland, there are countless challenges. There are many new platforms that have been launched, but the American ones are in a very strong position. There are many difficulties surrounding the business model. People prefer subscription business models, as opposed to transaction business models – or to have content for free. You have to provide quality content at an affordable cost. From a regulatory and legal point of view, we are looking to increase regulations for the management of VoD platforms, which increases the costs involved in running these platforms. Our platform is global, so we don’t sell our films in just one country. The more international we get, the more we change business models. The biggest challenge is that film is both art and business. As art, it is very difficult to scale the market. What is working very well for a film in terms of marketing may not work for another, very similar film. Sometimes you do not have any idea of what worked for a specific movie. We try to share all of our experiences. We also talk about technology and innovation.

What is the situation like in smaller countries, such as Belgium?
Maxime Lacour (UniversCine Belgium & Luxembourg):
 For an operator from a small country like Belgium, it was essential to be able to work in synergy with other European operators. That’s why we founded EuroVoD. In the context of this training programme at Venice, I’m delighted to be exchanging views on subjects such as marketing, technology, legislation and regulation. We are planning to tackle piracy, the media timeline and artificial intelligence. These are all challenges that will have to be addressed not only from a national standpoint, but also from a European one.

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The training programme is supported by the Creative Europe/MEDIA programme. Registration for the Berlin module is now open – more information can be found here.

(Translated from French)

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