New EU online subscription rules make digital content services more portable

28 Mar 2018

Accessing content when travelling around the EU is going to be much easier. Image: lightpoet/Shutterstock

Europeans who buy or subscribe to online content services will soon find it easier to enjoy films, music and games in any member state.

The world we live in is becoming increasingly mobile-first, with people expecting easy access to content and services no matter what territory they are in.

As part of the EU Digital Single Market initiative, from 1 April, Europeans will be able to access online content they have subscribed to in their home member state from anywhere else in the EU.

The change comes following the much-lauded abolition of roaming charges across member states in June 2017.

Easy access to content

From live sporting events and music, to film and television streaming services, users will have far greater freedom when it comes to where they can access their paid-for content. Previously, users would have often encountered annoying roadblocks such as being unable to watch a paid-for football match on Sky Sports while on a business trip, or a user being blocked from their HBO account due to geographical restrictions.

According to EU statistics, almost 60pc of Europeans aged 15 to 24 take content portability seriously prior to subscribing to providers, and the new cross-border portability rules will likely attract more users to content platforms due to a newfound ease of use.

The new rules cover content services that are already available in the user’s home country and have been paid for via subscription or individual purchases. Platforms that users can avail of free of charge are also covered if the service provider in question opts in to the new regulations.

EU citizens at the core

Regulators at the European Commission stated: “Citizens are at the core of all our digital initiatives. As of 1 April, wherever you are travelling to [or] in the EU, you will no longer miss out on your favourite films, TV series, sports broadcasts, games or e-books that you have digitally subscribed to at home.

“The rules will apply to paid-for services, but providers of free content may opt in. Providers of online content will also benefit from the new rules. They will no longer have to acquire licences for other territories where their subscribers are travelling to.”

The regulators explained that the new rules were a direct response to the adoption of new technologies by citizens across the EU, noting that video subscription service spending rose by 113pc per year between 2010 and 2014, with the number of users rising by 56pc between 2014 and 2015.

They concluded: “Reaching an agreement on portability is a great result of close collaboration between the EU institutions and European companies and stakeholders, and we have full confidence that broadcasters and platforms will take this as an opportunity to enhance the user experience.

“Today we have taken another concrete step towards building a true Digital Single Market and a united European digital society, accessible for all our citizens and profitable for our businesses.”

Ellen Tannam was a journalist with Silicon Republic, covering all manner of business and tech subjects