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MAGNETIC LATVIA 2019

Andreas Wildfang • Member of the board of directors, EUROVOD

“We're in a market in which consumers' expectations are based on the experiences that mainstream VoD platforms deliver”

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- At Magnetic Latvia, we talked to Andreas Wildfang, member of the board of directors of EUROVOD, an association of VoD platforms specialising in arthouse, independent and European cinema

Andreas Wildfang  • Member of the board of directors, EUROVOD
(© EYZ Media)

We had the chance to meet Andreas Wildfang, member of the board of directors of EUROVOD and executive director of German firm EYZ Media GmbH. Wildfang attended the Magnetic Latvia Film Conference in Riga and took part in a panel entitled “Selling Your Product in Different Channels”, moderated by Latvian film director Martins Grauds. Our chat focused on the role of the network, the transformations in the VoD industry and the European VoD market.

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Cineuropa: Why is EUROVOD taking part in the Magnetic Latvia Film Conference?
Andreas Wildfang: This region has some very interesting storytellers. I'm happy to acknowledge that there are quite a few series that have really made an impact and which have been successfully sold abroad. Here, I'm trying to learn more about VoD consumers' habits, what they're watching, and whether it makes sense to think about a possible expansion of our network by involving new partners.

What is the role of EUROVOD in promoting European cinema?
EUROVOD is a lobby group. We do need a lobby! Obviously, if you look at the European landscape, about 88% of most countries’ markets are dominated by American-based or -owned VoD services. Europe has yet to make a dent in the VoD ecosphere. Luckily, some of us are fairly successful; in this respect, I'd mention, for example, the Spanish platform Filmin. But how do we specifically measure success? We all face the same challenges; namely, we're in a market in which consumers' expectations – rightly so – are based on the experiences that mainstream VoD platforms deliver, and we must meet their demands in terms of tech, comfort, user-experience design and content. I believe that we can only achieve these standards by co-operating. That's why EUROVOD's influence is crucial. Through our activities, we promote European cinema and, more extensively, European content.

EUROVOD was established in 2009. How has the VoD scene changed over the last ten years?
Well, EUROVOD itself has changed drastically. I joined in 2018, so I'm a fairly fresh recruit. At the beginning, there were a couple of commercial platforms that were, to a certain degree, already interlinked. As of 2018, EUROVOD is open to all European independent platforms. In the VoD world, nine years are like talking about a period between the Early Middle Ages and today. I'm not even sure that the tablet existed in 2009. In 2007, Apple started the inception of the smartphone. Now, 70% of the marketing must be based on mobile usage. Nothing that we did on our platform in 2009 do we do now. Over the last decade, VoD has gained so much traction. In 2009, it probably had a 0.1% share of the home-video market, and now in Germany – traditionally a “slow” market that still leans on DVDs and Blu-rays – VoD has a market share of 40%. There are more advanced markets, such as the British one, where this percentage reaches 60%. And we're not even taking into consideration AVoD, YouTube or other huge content creators, which are not included in these statistics. Finally, VoD has surpassed theatrical distribution in terms of revenue, so the scene has completely changed.

What do you think will be the impact of the video-game industry on the ever-changing VoD landscape?
Of course, people already use gaming consoles as players, so you need to build VoD content for Xbox, Playstation and so on. In terms of the experience, the influence of video games shouldn't be overrated. First of all, what is VoD? It is entertainment: people want to sit down, relax and watch an interesting piece of content. The most appropriate is serial content, which people are keen to follow. Some users might want to interact during their audiovisual experience, but I'd take a wild guess and say that 99% of VoD users are interested in the content itself, indulging in a more passive, entertainment-based experience. Certainly, the whole storytelling influence will seep over, so we're going to see more crossovers, but these two forms of entertainment will more or less remain separate.

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