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A report prepared by researchers at Carlos III University in Madrid analyzes the availability of Spanish production on five of the main international subscription video-on-demand platforms operating in Spain. The study entitled “Availability and importance of Spanish works in audiovisual subscription services”, signed by Luis A. Albornoz, Mª Trinidad García Leiva and Pedro Gallo, analyzes the offer of Spanish series and films on Netflix, Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max and Apple TV+, the five services of American origin with the greatest distribution in Spain at the time of carrying out this analysis, at the beginning of 2023. The main conclusion they draw is that the five services include Spanish works in their catalogs even though their quantity and characteristics are essential vary. Together they offer 1,641 Spanish titles (including co-productions, especially with France and Argentina), of which 187 are in two or more catalogs.
Prime Video is the platform that offers the largest number of Spanish works, with a total of 751 different titles. Netflix follows with 575. Together they represent 80% of Spanish series and films on the five platforms. Apple TV+ only had three titles at the beginning of 2023, three co-productions (a short film, an animated film and the Now & Then series). HBO Max was in the middle with 196 titles and Disney+ with 116.
The numbers vary greatly, but the total number of titles offered by these platforms also varies greatly. While Netflix has more than 7,000 titles in its catalog, Apple TV+ stays at 150 (it only has original productions, not a full library of purchased titles like the others). Prime Video is also the platform with the highest proportion of Spanish works: 15% of the total offer in Spain in 2023 was of Spanish origin. HBO Max is next at 12%. On Netflix it is almost 8%, on Disney+ it is 5% and on Apple TV+ it remains at 2%.
The study highlights the “high variability of catalogs depending on the intellectual property rights of the works”. Comparing the data for 2023 with that of January 2022, all platforms have increased their offering of Spanish titles. Disney+ is the company with the largest increase in Spanish works in proportion, but as the report emphasizes, this was not a response to a commitment to production in Spain, but to the acquisition of exhibition rights for already existing works.
The researchers discovered nine feature films included in all catalogs analyzed (except Apple TV+), all of which were produced by large national media companies. And in series, five titles were available at the same time in at least three catalogs: Nobody Lives Here, Physics or Chemistry, Das Boot, Pocoyó and Vis a vis.
As far as the year of production is concerned, the content from the 2010s stands out. Spanish films and series produced before the 1990s are very limited or sometimes non-existent. This can be explained by several factors, such as the concentration of screening rights for Spanish films in the company Mercury Films (owner of FlixOlé), the public television monopoly until 1990, which allowed legendary series such as Curro Jiménez or Verano azul to be shown on RTVE. Play (and other services with which they have agreements) or that many productions are not digitized or do not have sufficient image quality. The oldest title they found on these platforms was Welcome, Mr. Marshall (1953) on HBO Max (now also on Netflix).
There's hardly anything on their menus
An important conclusion of the report by researchers from the University of Carlos III is that these platforms still have a lot of room for improvement when it comes to highlighting the presence of this content in their catalog and thus facilitating access. Netflix was the only company that had sections for Spanish films and series in the top navigation bar or in the carousels on the home page. Prime Video also offers carousels with categories dedicated to Spanish films and series, and HBO Max has included it in a common category. The study concludes that “Spanish works available on the SVOD services considered are few, not very prominent and largely focused on films and fiction in Spanish.”
To provide context, the report states that, according to the European Audiovisual Observatory's MAVISE database, there were 86 audiovisual video-on-demand services in Spain in mid-2023. It is also recalled that the Audiovisual Communication Services Directive stipulates that EU States must ensure that “audiovisual communication service providers […] have a share of at least 30% of European works in their catalogs and ensure the prominence of these works.” This directive was implemented in Spain in 2022 in a new General Law on Audiovisual Communication, which provides for the reservation of European works of at least 30% of the catalogs and also stipulates that at least 50% of this quota must be dedicated to works in Spanish or one of the official languages. In addition, Spanish law stipulates that any provider of an audiovisual service in Spain with an income of 50 million euros or more must use 5% of its income annually to finance European audiovisual works.
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