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INDUSTRY / MARKET Europe

The European Audiovisual Observatory shines a spotlight on media ownership in Europe

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- The latest study underscores how the revenue of the top 100 audiovisual groups operating in Europe grew twice as fast as overall market revenues between 2016 and 2022

The European Audiovisual Observatory shines a spotlight on media ownership in Europe
(© European Audiovisual Observatory)

This week, the European Audiovisual Observatory published the 2023 edition of its “Top Players in the European Audiovisual Industry – Ownership and Concentration” report, authored by analyst Laura Ene Iancu.

In detail, the study aims to shed light on the structure of the European audiovisual industry in terms of revenues as well as other performance indicators specific to key market segments. Moreover, the analysis provides snapshots of the top players and explores concentration, statute and origin of ownership by revenues, pay-AV subscriptions, number of services, TV audiences and number of TV fiction titles.

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The first key finding is that the top 100 audiovisual groups in Europe grew in terms of revenue “twice as fast as the overall audiovisual service market revenues between 2016 and 2022”, thus marking an overall 23% increase on 2016 figures.

The report notes how this growth process has been “mainly organic, with 90% of the growth accounted for by the private sector and almost entirely concentrated on the top 20 private groups”. Pure SVoD players alone fuelled the top-100 player chart. Meanwhile, primarily traditional players also grew by 14% over 2016 figures, “driven mainly by Warner Bros. Discovery, Paramount, Comcast’s Sky, Disney, Vodafone and Deutsche Telekom. […] In part, this evolution might also be explained by a stronger dynamic in revenue streams generated outside traditional AV service activity,” the document highlights.

Next, the study finds that private and US-bound interests in the cumulated operating revenues of the top 100 audiovisual groups also rose between 2016 and 2022. Specifically, “private groups saw their cumulated revenue weight going up to 73% in 2022 (+4% over 2016 figures)”. In addition, “broadcasters took the lion’s share (68%), followed by telco-driven companies (20%) and pure SVoD players (12%)”. Furthermore, “private-sector revenues were almost equally banked by both European and US-backed players” and “the weight of US interests in the top 100 revenues went up to 36% in 2022 due to the rise of pure SVoD players, but also of the SVoD services of US-backed broadcasters such as Sky, Paramount+, HBO Max and Disney+”.

The research reveals that 70% of US-bound interests were accumulated by broadcasters and 25% by pure SVoD platforms, with Sky alone accounting for one-third of the revenues collected by US-backed broadcasters.

Next, the EAO analysis argues, “Concentration levels remained largely the same among the top 100 European audiovisual groups by operating revenues over the analysed period,” with “the top 20 players accumulating 73% of top-100 revenues in 2022, a slight increase compared to the 71% registered in 2016”.

The concentration levels of the pay-TV market structure also remained unchanged with regard to concentration levels, private share and US interests. Besides this, telco-driven players cumulatively accounted for over 70% of pay-TV subscriptions in 2022. “With the top ten operators cumulatively accounting for 60% of subscriptions at the end of 2022, the pay-TV market remained highly concentrated,” adds the report.

Speaking of SVoD, the study confirms that it is “the market segment with the highest share of US (84%) and private interests (99%)” as well as “the most concentrated, with 90% of subscriptions cumulatively signed off to the top ten OTT platforms at the end of 2022”. Concentration levels, however, went down in 2022 compared with 2021. This happened owing to “the plateauing of new additions registered by SVoD juggernauts Netflix and Amazon” and “against the backdrop of the smaller streamers scaling up, chiefly the platforms of the US powerhouses, which saw their cumulative subscriptions hike by +68% in 2022 over 2021”.

Finally, the research stresses how audiovisual players in Europe are “highly heterogeneous in terms of their portfolio of activities”, tailoring their content to the market needs of each territory they operate in.

The full document can be accessed here.

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