When you’re on the road for a long time you start to long for comfort. Not the comfort of a familiar bed, or hot shower per se — but the comfort of the culturally familiar. No matter how long you’ve traveled, you’ll eventually find yourself in a movie theater relishing the air-conditioning system while Daniel Craig jumps between buildings like the übermensch gazelle that he is. It’s hard not to browse the bootleg DVDs at a night market somewhere near the equator for that season 4 The Simpsons boxset. We long for our cultural touchstones. It’s just human.
To say that Netflix has changed the game would be a gross understatement. At the start of the year Netflix announced that they were banning all VPNs on their site. This peeved a few people. Now we are starting to see why. The European Union has been moving towards a singularity in internet, roaming, and now copyright.
Earlier today the European Parliament tentatively agreed to allow consumers equal access to their local Netflix subscription across the 28-member bloc. If approved on May 26th, this will mean you’ll be able to access your home Netflix account when you’re abroad. This is a potential game-changer…again.
Unlike the USA, local European government monies pay a huge portion of budgets for everything produced in the film and televisual medium. A lot of film, documentary and TV is funded by licensing territorial rights to individual countries. Removing 28 territories and creating one massive entity will mean rethinking how these programs and films are funded. If, say, you are putting together a budget for a TV show, you know you’ll get x-amount of dollars from the French, German, UK, Irish, Polish, etc., distribution rights. On May 26th, that may well become a single distribution territory as far as streaming is concerned. Netflix is going to start fielding a lot more pitches.
So what does all of this mean for you, fair binger? Netflix profits when it can deliver the most content to the widest audience while paying the fewest licensing fees. Soon you’ll be able to watch your local Netflix when you’re traveling anywhere in the world, even if only for a restricted window while traveling. Their lobby has been fighting for international license and copyright to be re-thought. We already live in a world where outside the USA shows like Better Call Saul, Penny Dreadful, Fargo, and many, many others are Netflix Original shows in every international territory. Better Call Saul is literally the poster child of Netflix all over Europe. Its episodic release schedule is identical the US schedule. The only thing missing…any mention of AMC.
This is the first step towards universal access to international entertainment. Soon we won’t need to go to illegal streaming sites or torrent sites to see that hot new British or French or Danish show. It’ll just be on Netflix.