Nearly 70% of Europeans download or stream films for free

written by: Richard Kastelein

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shutterstock 65311210Nearly 70% of Europeans download or stream films for free, whether legally or illegally, according to a new European Commission study on audience behaviour. It also finds that 40% of smartphone owners and more than 60% of tablet owners watch films on their devices. The study finds that this is not surprising because, while the public takes a lot of interest in films as a whole, the nearest cinema is often some distance from them and the choice on screen is frequently rather limited.

It suggests that the European film industry can increase revenues by exploiting different types of profit-making online platforms to increase the availability of films and reach new audiences. The audience behaviour study is based on research, analysis and interviews with audiences in 10 Member States - the UK, France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Poland, Croatia, Romania, Lithuania and Denmark. Nearly 5 000 people aged from 4-50 were asked about their film habits and preferences.

"The study confirms that the European film industry is not making the most of its potential to reach new audiences or capitalising on cross-border partnerships. We encourage film-makers to make the most of the funding provided through Creative Europe, the EU’s new programme for the cultural and creative sectors, and its MEDIA sub-programme in particular. Its support for film distribution and development can open up new avenues for filmmakers that will enrich Europe's diverse culture and increase audience access to great quality films," said Androulla Vassiliou, European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Multilingualism.

Creative Europe's MEDIA sub-programme will support 2 000 cinemas and 800 European films in the next seven years. The bulk of MEDIA's funding is targeted at supporting the distribution of European films outside their country of origin.

Main results of the study:

  1. 97% of Europeans watch films at least occasionally
  2. Europe produces more than 1 000 films a year, but most are only seen in the country where they are made and relatively few films are screened abroad
  3. 68% of respondents download films for free and 55% watch free streamed films via their computer or handheld device. Free-downloaders tend to be young, urban and educated, keen film viewers interested in the diversity of films but frustrated by the cost and narrow catalogues of legal offers
  4. 14% of respondents have no access to cinemas within 30 minutes of their home. This figure rises to 37% in Romania, 27% in Lithuania and 16% in Croatia.
  5. European films are considered original and thought provoking, but audiences are critical about "slow or heavy" storylines
  6. Most people choose the film they are going to view just before going to the cinema, with trailers being the most effective marketing tool
  7. 28% of Europeans watch films in festivals
  8. Nearly 50% of respondents have taken advantage of film education programmes, for example in schools, universities and cinema clubs.

The study profiles audiences, splitting them into five groups: 'hyperconnected movie addicts', 'rushed independent movie selective', 'mainstream blockbuster lovers', 'occasional hit grazers' and 'movie indifferents'. European film lovers are most represented in the first two groups.

Hyperconnected movie addicts (24% of European film viewers) are typically digital natives and the group contains more males and young adults than the others. They live mainly in urban areas, are highly engaged in media and culture and well-equipped with media devices.

Rushed independent movie selectives (22% of European film viewers) are typically working adults with few or no children, women aged 26-50 on average incomes, with a fairly high level of education and working in professions such as academia and teaching.

Mainstream blockbuster lovers (16% of European film viewers) mainly watch US blockbusters. Their socio-demographic profile and media equipment are average. They live in less urban areas and have more limited access to cinemas.

Occasional hit grazers (21% of European film viewers) watch fewer films, and take less notice of media and culture in general. They are typically younger, semi-urban or rural women at school or in the middle of their studies. Despite watching fewer films, their interest in European films is relatively strong.

Movie indifferents (16% of European film viewers) watch the fewest films by far, and, in general, are cut-off from most cultural activities other than TV and video games. They are typically either young or older men, less educated, poorer, living in rural and semi-urban areas and the least equipped with media devices and services. They are little interested in film apart from action and comedy, and mostly watch US blockbusters.

Background

One of Creative Europe's main objectives is to strengthen the demand for films, to improve their distribution across borders, and to reach new audiences in Europe and beyond. The study aims to help help policy-makers across Europe to increase the effectiveness of their cultural policies and initiatives.

Creative Europe was launched on 1 January and has a budget of €1.46 billion for the next seven years. It builds on the success of the Culture and MEDIA programmes, which have supported the cultural and audiovisual sectors for more than 20 years. The programme will allocate at least 56% of its budget for the MEDIA sub-programme.

The MEDIA sub-programme supports the EU film and audiovisual industries in the development, distribution and promotion of their work. It also funds training and market access schemes, which also have a new international dimension covering non-EU member countries. MEDIA will allocate nearly €6 million a year to encourage innovation in the audiovisual sector. Under this objective, in 2014, it will launch three initiatives to support audience development and film literacy, international co-productions and video games.

About the Author

Richard Kastelein
Founder of The Hackfest, publisher of TV App Market and global expert on Media & TV innovation, Kastelein is an award winning publisher and futurist. He has guest lectured at MIT Media Lab, University of Cologne, sat on media convergence panel at 2nd EU Digital Assembly in Brussels, and worked with broadcasters such as the BBC, NPO, RTL (DE and NL), Eurosport, NBCU, C4, ITV, Seven Network and others on media convergence strategy - Social TV, OTT, DLNA and 2nd Screen etc.

He is a Fellow of the UK Royal Society of Arts (RSA) and UK Royal Television Society (RTS) member.

Kastelein has spoken (& speaking) on the future of media & TV in Amsterdam, Belfast, Berlin, Brussels, Brighton, Copenhagen, Cannes, Cologne, Curacao, Frankfurt, Hollywood, Hilversum, Geneva, Groningen (TEDx), Kuala Lumpur, London, Las Vegas, Leipzig, Madrid, Melbourne, NYC, Rio, Sheffield, San Francisco, San Jose, Sydney, Tallinn, Vienna, Zurich...

He's been on advisory boards of TEDx Istanbul, SMWF UK, Apps World, and judged & AIB awards, Social TV Awards Hollywood, TV Connect & IPTV Awards.

A versatilist & autodidact, his leadership ability, divergent and synthetic thinking skills evolved from sailing the world 24000 miles+ offshore in his 20′s on sailboats under 12m.

He spent 10 years in the Caribbean media & boating industry as a professional sailor before returning to Europe, to Holland.

A Creative Technologist and Canadian (Dutch/Irish/English/Metis) his career began in the Canadian Native Press and is now a columnist for The Association for International Broadcasting and writes for Wired, The Guardian & Virgin. His writings have been translated into Polish, German and French. 

One of Kastelein's TV formats was optioned by Sony Pictures Television in 2012. 

Currently involved in a number of startups including publishing TV App Market online, The Hackfest and Tripsearch TV. As CSO for Worldticketshop he helped build a $100m company.

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