Europeans now can watch online streaming services like Netflix, Amazon Video Prime, and others that they’ve subscribed to at home wherever they are traveling in the EU without facing region blocks. The European Commission announced its new digital portability rules went into effect yesterday, as spotted by Engadget.
The rules cover any digital content subscriptions, but it doesn’t cover free content, which will be up to the providers’ discretion. The new change also means that Netflix will be able to serve films and TV shows to subscribers without having to obtain licenses for the territories. Users’ accounts will automatically check their IP addresses to spot their location. The commission noted that between 2010 and 2014, European spending on video subscription services grew 113 percent each year. It estimates that at least 29 million people will benefit from the change in rules.
Between different European countries, the number of films and television shows can vary vastly. For instance, French Netflix had 33 percent of the full US Netflix content available, German Netflix had 28 percent of content, while Italy only had 17 percent, as noted by a 2016 report from Finder.com, a shopping comparison tool. Had French travelers tried to watch Netflix in Italy prior to these new rules, they would have been limited to the Italian version of Netflix that only had under 200 TV shows and 1,000 films.
The European Commission has changed rules recently to make the Union’s digital market more unified, including removing roaming charges for EU travelers last year. About 60 percent of young Europeans said the ability to travel with subscriptions was an important factor in choosing to subscribe to such services, according to a poll cited by the commission.
Due to Brexit, the UK won’t see the benefit from these rules, although that’s not so bad for EU citizens visiting the country. Compared to its fellow European countries, the UK had a larger percentage of available TV shows and films (38 percent), so it’s likely that those visiting the UK had been able to enjoy content previously blocked in their home member states.