by Don Groves, Creative Content Australia, 16/5/2019
The number of sites legally offering content including films and TV shows, music, e-books, video games and sports events in the European Union has soared by more than 50% in the past few years.
Similarly, in Australia consumers have access to a number of sites which link to a vast range of entertainment content and content platforms.
In the EU there are currently 1,568 sites, including streaming, downloading, catch-up and direct to console platforms, up from 1,000 in 2016, according to the European Intellectual Property Office (EUIPO).
Some 450 sites provide content for free, with the rest divided between subscription and pay by transaction. The UK is the biggest aggregator with 400 sites, Finland has 200 and Italy 150.
EUIPO runs agorateka a pan-European portal which enables EU citizens to search through national-level portals that link to sites for music, film and television, e-books, video games and sports events.
The portal provides fast and easy access to legal offerings online. Results can be filtered by country, content field, the available formats of distribution of content and the methods of payment (free, single purchase or subscription).
Research studies have shown that many EU citizens don’t know where to find legal digital content sources. For example, only half say they know where to go to download TV series legally.
However 83% of European citizens have expressed a preference for accessing online content through authorised platforms as opposed to illegal sites.
Last month the European Observatory launched ‘Choose content, not confusion!’, an agorateka awareness campaign in 18 European countries with the aim of increasing visibility of the agorateka network by promoting national portals and guiding consumers towards legal content. Currently, the network receives half a million unique visitors per month.
In Australia, there are a number of websites which have been developed to help viewers discover legitimate content to watch online and in cinemas.
Screen Australia operates a screen guide which advises consumers on how to track down a copy of an Australian film or TV program to stream, rent or buy online.
The Digital Content Guide provides links to music, movies, TV, games, e-books and sports content platforms.
At Just Watch users can search by title and find out where films are screening in cinemas, on subscription video-on-demand services, like Stan, and pay-per-view platforms such as Apple TV.
And, Movie Times lists session times at cinemas around Australia with the ability to click through to buy tickets.
By giving consumers a quick and easy way to find something to watch, aggregation websites are driving more and more viewers to access legitimate content.
Don Groves reports on the Australian and APAC screen industries for If Magazine and C21 Media after working for Variety for 24 years.