Call for Papers: Journal of Digital Media & Policy
Special Issue: ‘US-Based SVOD Providers in Europe: Impacts and Challenges’
Abstracts (400 words): 12 November 2022
Full manuscripts (6–8,000 words, including references): 6 March 2023
We will also consider short reports/commentaries with a policy focus of between 1,500–2,000 words, as well as books reviews. All submissions should be directed to the guest editors.
Maria Trinidad García Leiva
Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain
Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Belgium
City, University of London, UK
Read the full call here>>
Audiovisual production, distribution and consumption have experienced remarkable changes over the past few decades. The global market for video-on-demand (VoD) services has particularly grown (Doyle 2018; Johnson 2019). According to Statista, so-called over-the-top TV and video revenue worldwide is expected to reach 210.29 billion US dollars by 2026, more than double the 83.34 billion generated in 2019. One of among the most popular and rapidly expanding of these services are subscription video-on-demand services (SVoD). According to this same source, the gross number of SvoD subscriptions worldwide amounted to 904 million in 2020 and is expected to reach nearly 1.5 billion by 2026.
In Europe, where SvoD subscriptions tripled between 2017 and 2020, according to Ampere Analysis, the growth has been ascribed to the presence and rapid expansion of US-based providers like Netflix or Prime Video, which have been launched from 2012 on and dominate the scenario. They are putting pressure on the European markets and regulators, as their reach and their user/subscription base expanded rapidly (Arthofer et al 2016; EAO 2018). And this in spite of the growing number of European companies offering SvoD services. The entrance of newcomers such as Apple TV+ or Disney+ has confirmed the key status of this type of service.
On the one hand, US-based SvoD providers have been linked to an increase in the number of audiovisual works available in the European markets (Iordache 2021) and the reinforcement of more flexible ways of audiovisual consumption (Marrazzo 2020); while they have also been placed at the forefront of creativity and innovation (Neira 2020). On the other hand, they have also been at the centre of many policy debates (Ranaivoson 2019). Some of the most critical questions regarding their role have been related to the non-transparent impact of their recommender systems on the content displayed to their users (Ranaivoson 2020) as well as to discoverability issues (García Leiva 2020); to the relative scarcity of local works compared to the abundance of programming originating in the United States (Albornoz and García Leiva 2021); to the unequal conditions in which traditional media companies must face competition from transnational providers, or to non-compliance with obligations ranging from taxes to the promotion of European works (García Leiva and Albornoz 2020). Their impact and role, therefore, are thus situated within very different contexts and have, in turn, different consequences.
This special issue seeks to consider, both empirically and theoretically, the numerous challenges arising from the activities of US-based SvoD providers and their economic, policy and sociocultural impacts in Europe. It will bring together scholars of communication, law, economics and technology, who are invited to address issues such as:
• their role in the diversity of content made available, especially regarding their type, origin and the languages involved;
• their impact on audiovisual production and distribution, especially in terms of deals, investment and costs;
• their relationships developed with other industry players in local markets (creators, producers, broadcasters, etc.);
• their competition with new and traditional audiovisual media services providers, especially public service media;
• their implementation of recommender systems, and the impact on the diversity of suggested and displayed content (discoverability issues included);
• their effect on consumption and reception practices, and how SvoD consumers use them in complement or substitution of their other audiovisual practices;
• the implications for future regulatory frameworks and policy decisions in light, for example, of the Audiovisual Media Services Directive and of the Council of Europe’s European Convention on Transfrontier Television;
• their eventual contribution to the development of a European audiovisual space.
• Comparative approaches (between countries, regions, providers, services…) will be especially welcomed.