Video On Demand: Europe’s main markets in the aftermath of Netflix world conquest


Florence Le Borgne
Head of the TV & Digital Content Practice, IDATE DigiWorld

Generally speaking, the arrival of Netflix in a new market results in increased programming costs for its competitors.


Using North America as an example, this trend is expected to continue and grow in the coming years, which will question the profitability of such investments.



Service typology

There are generally three types of pay video-on-demand (VOD) services:

TVOD (Transactional Video-On-Demand) services, which include:

EST (Electronic Sell-Through), also known as DTO or 'Download To Own', is like the traditional sale of physical videograms, but in digital form.

DTR (Download To Rent) is like the traditional rental of videograms, but in digital form.

SVOD (Subscription Video-On-Demand) services, which are based on the dominant pricing model used for linear pay-TV: subscriptions

It is common for the same service to offer several pricing models.

Business models and service positioning

The transactional video-on-demand model is based on revenue sharing between the service provider and the rights holders. Contracts between these two parties can be exclusive, but rarely so. The catalogues of transactional video-on-demand services are usually very large (from 10,000 to hundreds of thousands). Although most TVOD services are non-specialised, consumption is mainly focused on movies.

The business model of SVOD is similar to that of pay-TV. Content rights are purchased at fixed price, regardless of actual consumption. The rights may be exclusive for a given period of time and territory. SVOD catalogues have tended to be available for unlimited consumption so far, including many non-exclusive and older titles (over 5 years old). Although most SVOD offerings are non-specialised, fiction series tend to be promoted and consumed the most. Original and exclusive new content is increasingly used for differentiation. There are currently two contrasting marketing strategies used: strategies based on a volume/cost ratio; and differentiation strategies based on premium or special interest positioning.

Competitive environment

The VOD sector as a whole is witnessing strong growth in Europe, driven by a large increase in the number of services emerging in most countries. Between February 2012 and December 2015, the number of services available in the EU increased by a factor of 5.7 on average.

Although the market share in value terms is still dominated by DTR in Europe (56.5% of the total VOD market), this market segment has been the slowest growing segment over the last five years (+215% on average in EU countries between 2010 and 2015). Revenues from subscription services are experiencing stronger growth: a growth rate of 1,824% over the same period. They generated nearly one-third of VOD revenues in Europe in 2015, whereas they only accounted for 7.6% in 2010.

The true start of the SVOD market in a particular country is often whenever Netflix launches there. Note that Netflix is often the main beneficiary of the rapid growth in subscribers that its launch creates. The arrival of the North American giant does, however, trigger a response from the main players in FTA television and pay-TV. It is the combination of all these elements that contributes to better awareness of these services among the general public and facilitates their adoption.

Competitive environment

The growth and success of video-on-demand services can be very different depending on the market. There are various internal factors:

the propensity for local consumers to pay for access to content;

the price differential with local pay-TV offerings;

the prevalence of piracy of audiovisual and cinematic content;


Find out more about the various internal factors

Various issues specific to the structure of on-demand services and players' strategies also play a role:

the relevance of the marketing positioning of the services;

the existence of partnerships with distributors who already have a subscriber/equipment base;

the effectiveness of recommendation systems, which help increase consumption and provide a better user experience;


More information about these issues

Profitability conditions and the challenge facing Europe

The issue of achieving profitability with transactional services is not as critical as for subscription services. Because most transactional service costs are variable costs, proportional to consumption, these services are not expensive to create and only become so when the content is actually consumed.

Therefore, there are no real obstacles to creating new services and the costs of entry into the market are low. This explains the abundance of existing services and the great diversity of players in this segment.

The economy for SVOD services is more delicate: as well as technical and marketing costs, content acquisition costs can be regarded as fixed costs because the content is purchased at a fixed price, regardless of consumption. To that can be added costs related to development or acquisition of a recommendation tool. Subscription services therefore have significant costs even before they have started to recruit subscribers.

If the European industry cannot create some European champions of their own to compete with the US giants, many European players may disappear as the market rationalises.

Discover the perspectives,  key trends, and scenarios about the TV market for the next decade through our dedicated report and register to DigiWorld Future 2016 

DWF15 video report v3For the publication of the 16th edition of the DigiWorld Yearbook (pre-order now), IDATE is organizing a conference based on the detailed analysis of the current situations and some forecasts by IDATE experts on the major digital sectors, the discussion will deal with the great trends and challenges that will disrupt the digital markets by 2025.




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World Telecom Services Market: Everyone wants to go mobile


Didier Pouillot
Directeur de Business Unit Strategies, IDATE DigiWorld

the number of mobile customers worldwide should top the 8 billion mark by the end of 2018 (+16% compared with end of 2014) and increase by a further 200 million the following year (+14% between the end of 2015 and the end of 2019).


With global penetration more than 100% in 2014, subscriber growth is expected to gradually slow down over the next few years. The number of fixed Internet subscribers is increasing at roughly the same pace, but customer numbers are eight times smaller. The one billion mark is not expected to be reached before 2020 and traditional landlines continue to loose ground as VoIP and mobile gain ground.


The spread of broadband

the number of fixed broadband subscribers is expected to reach 900 million worldwide by the end of 2019. The number of LTE customers is shooting up, with services based on carrier aggregation no longer being limited to just the more developed countries.
Three major factors will play in favour of the spread of broadband:

The success of bundled offers (fixed telephony, VoIP, TV, mobile telephony) and the appetite for video applications.

The investment of telecom operators in the migration of their infrastructures to mobile or fixed broadband.

The comfort provided by ultra-fast mobile broadband and the new uses it enables.

Revenue from telecom services

the global revenues from telecom services will grow from 1,111 billion in 2014 to 1,196 billion in 2019, representing an average annual growth of 1.8%.

Revenues from mobile services will grow by 8% between 2015 and 2019 (+1.9% per year on average), reaching 729 billion EUR in 2019.

Revenues associated with data transmission and Internet will grow more strongly (+18% between 2015 and 2019, i.e. +4.3% per year on average), to reach 319 billion EUR in 2019.

The turnover of fixed telephony will continue to decline significantly (-11% between 2015 and 2019, i.e. a decline of 3% per year on average), to be at 147 billion EUR in 2018.

Disparate performances from operators in emerging countries

The top telcos in emerging countries experienced a slower rate of growth for their revenues in 2014, with the notable exception of América Móvil. China’s three telcos are reporting stagnant revenues, and China Unicom actually posted a 3.5% decrease. Their margins are come in line with industry standards: between 30% and 40% of EBITDA margins. Several of these operators are actively engaged in an international expansion into Africa and Latin America, but also into advanced markets, particularly in Europe.

European operators always in trouble

European operators continue to suffer. Virtually all of them, except for Deutsche Telekom and Telenor, saw their revenues shrink once again in 2014. Their spending on LTE and superfast fixed access networks (FTTx) has not yet paid off and helped to bolster ARPU.


Discover the perspectives,  key trends, and scenarios about the telecoms market for the next decade through our dedicated report and register to DigiWorld Future 2016 

DWF15 video report v3For the publication of the 16th edition of the DigiWorld Yearbook (pre-order now), IDATE is organizing a conference based on the detailed analysis of the current situations and some forecasts by IDATE experts on the major digital sectors, the discussion will deal with the great trends and challenges that will disrupt the digital markets by 2025.



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Telco’s Connected Objects Strategies : how to compete with OTT players


Samuel Ropert
Director of Studies, IDATE DigiWorld

The connected object market today shows a real complementarity between the major players in terms of their current positionings, aligned with their core business.

In the longer term, however, IDATE DigiWorld anticipates that competition will grow in ferocity, around the platforms and services which are set to be the next source of revenues.


The automotive market

Around the connected car business, is key for Internet giants and telcos. Competition today is, in the main, on the platform side as both telcos and Internet giants are aiming to position themselves here today. Indeed, it is the platform that is the cornerstone of the next connected car strategy. Looking further ahead, the main competitors will most likely be OTT service providers, as they will offer services by exploiting the data generated by sensors in the vehicle – Uber-like companies are one example. Some industry incumbents are already engaged in the battle: earlier in 2016, GM invested half a billion USD in Lyft, the main competitor to Uber. The major involved players are AT&T and Verizon on the side of the telcos and Google (and Apple to a lesser extent) for Internet players.

The wellness market

This market is very recent. Telcos are absent from its value chain, with the exception of very limited volumes of cellular objects. They only focus on the distribution side, where the reselling business can grab them a sale commission on wearable objects, linked to smartphones. OTT Internet players are eying this promising consumer market for the opportunities it will offer in the near future to manipulate and monetise masses of personal data.

The healthcare market :

A specific market for a long time, its very promising market has been in the growing numbers of potential ‘clients’ as their age increases. The key objectives of healthcare applications are to optimise the treatment of disease and to save costs for national healthcare services. Even though solutions will be provided in partnership with experts, both telcos and Internet players will be push platforms and services.

The smart home market

It will be the arena for immense competition in the next few years. It is considered as a growth area for fixed telcos which are already facing competition from cablecos. On the side of the OTT Internet player, smart home applications are seen as a complementary way to follow their consumers/audience, even though they have different approaches. Competition – again, it will be heavy – will on the platform and services side as all players will be wanting to manage the data.

Today, the industrial Internet market is considered as an extension of the Industrial M2M business for telcos. The Internet giants are notable by their absence, even though some could provide cloud-based tool: Google, and Amazon with its specific IoT AWS offering, are prime examples. Analogous with traditional online services, the main threat for telcos is that they yet again become the pipe, and only the pipe. They have, however, anticipated the connectivity commodity trend by offering data platform solutions and related services. The ARPU from connectivity is very limited and the telcos expect only a small share of connected devices will be equipped with a SIM card. Before services, telcos have backed their core business, by setting their eyes on LPWA technologies (SIGFOX or LoRa) or collaborating on LPWA-like cellular ones such as the NB-IoT ahead. They are also backing the next 5G technologies, which aim to empower various verticals, including healthcare, manufacturing, smart cities and the automotive. It will be a tough battle, given that Internet giants are global by definition. Moreover, compared with traditional Web services, the main difference is that Internet giants manufacture their own objects, providing almost an end-to-end solution of product, platform and services on top. Faced with this kind of solution, traditional players in the industry will also suffer from the invasive nature of the OTT Internet players and their fierce competition.

Find out more information on "Telco's Connected Objects Strategies" in our dedicated market report

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Is this the beginning of the end of major M&A deals in Europe’s telecoms sector?


Yves Gassot
Directeur Général, IDATE DigiWorld


For several years now – and not without reason – an idea had taken hold in Europe’s ailing telecoms landscape that consolidation was a mandatory rite of passage for closing the chapter on endless price wars that were incompatible with the massive investments required in fixed and mobile superfast systems.

Hence the largely accepted view that, after the deals that took place in Austria, Ireland and especially Germany, national mobile market competition would be reduced from a four to a three-operator structure. In the wake of these earlier M&A deals, a similar project was announced in France, albeit one that was more complex and which fell through even before it got a chance to be examined by the country’s antitrust authority, while other major deals were quashed in the UK (sale of O2-Telefónica to CK Hutchison) and in Italy (joint-venture between Wind, owned by Vimpelcom, and Tre Italia, owned by CK Hutchison).

O2 turns down the CK Hutchison offer

It came as no surprise, after the series of negative signals from Britain’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) and its telecoms regulator, Ofcom, that the European Commission’s DG Competition ultimately nixed the sale of O2.

Telefónica will therefore need to look for other ways to keep its debt-reduction plan on track. Meanwhile, CK Hutchison will find itself in a very tenuous position in the UK, as a small operator that lags well behind the competition. It seems unlikely that it can continue on as is, not least because the situation could attract other potential buyers. There are some from outside the UK which are bold and confident enough (Iliad’s name came up several months back) to believe in their ability to forge themselves a position despite British operators’ slim margins. It seems more likely, however, that in the short or medium term CK Hutchison will find a domestic buyer from amongst veteran wireline telcos such as Sky (No. 2 in the broadband market), Virgin Media (tied for second spot, owned by Liberty Global) or TalkTalk (No. 4), all of which have been shaken by the advent of the heavyweight created by the merger of the country’s largest mobile operator, EE, and its fixed market leader, BT.

When consolidation rhymes with fixed-mobile convergence  

In Europe, national markets’ reduction from four to three mobile operators over the past two to three years is no longer the sector’s only, or even its main, consolidation option. We need to picture the mobile network of the future as an essentially fixed network, with wireless connections in the last 100 metres to service microcells. With this in mind, if a relatively dense fixed infrastructure does not exist, mobile operators’ backhauling costs could go through the roof. We naturally think of Vodafone back when it was a mobile pure player, which kicked off the trend with the successive takeovers of Kabel Deutschland and Ono. But the synergies of a consolidation based on fixed-mobile convergence are not confined to anticipating integrated infrastructure. We also need to factor in the cross-selling synergies enjoyed by a convergent operator, along with those to be had in the use of customer files, amortising retail outlets and in brand management, and possibly investments in video platforms, not to mention the boost to customer loyalty levels amongst quadruple play subscribers. We saw this in France when Iliad entered the mobile market. Telenet’s takeover of mobile operator Base in Belgium, Numericable’s takeover of SFR, Ono’s sale to Vodafone in Spain, or the recent joint-venture between Vodafone and Dutch mobile operators Ziggo, are some examples of this consolidation that rhymes with fixed-mobile convergence.

We should also note that an additional advantage lies, apparently, in competition authorities’ relatively positive attitude towards these mergers, as they continue to draw a distinction between the relevant fixed market and the relevant mobile market – viewing their substitutability as still imperfect at best. But national fixed-mobile consolidation has its limits: in the era of superfast access (once we move outside the ADSL market), the main alternative to the fixed integrated operator is typically the cable operator (most national cable markets are highly concentrated) – even if we must not entirely overlook alternative fibre operators which are typically found only in the largest cities, or fixed DSL operators that are subject to regulation. So there are not that many possible combinations that will enable a market’s four or even three operators to become integrated fixed-mobile operators.

Attitudes towards the Wind – 3 deal could give an indication of the DG Competition’s pull-back

A refusal in Italy after the one in the UK, itself on the heels prohibiting the merger between Telia and Telenor subsidiaries in Denmark, is being seen as a worrying pull-back of the Commission’s policy, and perhaps the end of the sector’s consolidation wave in Europe.

We need to remain prudent, however. The particular details of each M&A deal can justifiably alter national trust authorities’ or the Commission’s views. Without making a prediction on their ultimate ruling which is due before August, it is worth noting several differences between the situation in Italy and the one in the UK:

The new O2 would have become the UK’s number one player, ahead of EE and well ahead of Vodafone. In Italy, however, Tre-Wind could continue to trail Telecom Italia by a little and be only slightly larger than Vodafone. An additional indicator is that Wind is significantly outdistanced by both Telecom Italia and Vodafone when it comes to 4G coverage in Italy.

The deal in the UK was complicated by pre-existing infrastructure sharing agreements between Three and EE on the one hand, and between O2 and Vodafone on the other.

British authorities were very clear about their opposition to the Three – O2 merger, whereas Italian authorities have remained discreet. The upcoming Brexit vote in the UK may have persuaded the Commission not to deviate from British authorities’ (CMA, Ofcom) positions.

And what about structural remedies?

We will add that, in certain cases, the DG Competition’s approval of a merger–acquisition deal is contingent on the parties agreeing to a structural remedy. By this we mean a remedy that requires they divest themselves of frequencies and, when applicable, of a portion of infrastructure such as cell towers, to enable the creation of a new operator and so maintain the “magic” number of four operators. We can also imagine (although this is not the first option) that the entity created by the newly merged Wind and Tre in Italy should have enough spectrum – and little opposition to their sharing their towers – to satisfy a structural remedy imposed by the Commission. We can also continue to speculate by imagining a fixed market player (and MVNO) such as FastWeb (there is no cable in Italy) interested in becoming an MNO, provided its owner, Swisscom, accepts the risks. This fictional analysis is only meant to underscore that, as in the UK, failed mobile market consolidation could open the way to fixed-mobile convergence deals.

Are cross-border deals the ultimate outcome?

In any event, antitrust authorities’ refusal to greenlight mergers will not be able to freeze an unsustainable market structure over the long term. If national market concentration raises legitimate concerns over its impact on retail market prices, there is also a danger of seeing countries and consumers penalised by growing delays in fibre and 4G (and soon 5G) rollouts, once operators have exhausted the margins of their cost-cutting schemes.

So, if national market competition cannot be made more economically efficient by domestic mergers and acquisitions, there may be opportunities for cross-border deals for some. As with fixed-mobile convergence deals, the Commission tends to take a more kindly view of them since they have a less direct impact on the relevant market’s concentration level. Of course, potential synergies are less obvious (the same number of infrastructures are competing) and the inherent risks of the deal will depend on valuation. We can nevertheless believe that, for some operators with ambitious business models, e.g. in their acquisition of TV rights, the drive to achieve critical mass could become a key objective, and one that is vital to their future.

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Interview with Adam MINNS


Published in DigiWorld Economic Journal DWEJ No. 101 "Towards a single digital audiovisual market?"

Interview with Adam MINNS

Executive Director, COBA, London

Conducted by Sally BROUGHTON MICOVA


The Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA) is an industry association whose members include digital, cable and satellite broadcasters, both linear and on-demand. The association is active on policy and regulatory issues primarily in the UK, and also in Europe. 


DW Economic Journal:  When the Audiovisual Media Services directive was drafted it was designed to be platform neutral, maintaining a distinction only between linear and on-demand services with the intention of future-proofing it for potential changes in technology and markets. To what extent has that held up?

Adam MINNS:  The European broadcasting sector is a success story, worth more than 74.6 billion euros annually, according to the European Audiovisual Observatory. Audiences have more choice than ever before, with the number of linear channels growing across the EU and the gradual emergence of on-demand services (a recent study by the European Audiovisual Observatory put the number of on-demand audiovisual services established in Europe at 2,563) [1].

We therefore see no need to tamper with the fundamental principles of the directive, i.e. a technology-neutral approach that applies varying levels of regulation according to consumer expectations and the nature of different services. Indeed, radical change creates a risk of damaging the successful growth of the European audiovisual sector. That said, there is a case for a moderate level of reform regarding certain, specific aspects of the rules for commercial communications for linear services. In some areas, these are overly prescriptive and it is difficult to see the consumer purpose these are serving in a world of rapidly changing behaviour and the ability to access content from a multitude of different devices and services.

Does it still make sense to regulate linear and on-demand differently?

Yes. The directive's two tier approach to regulation has helped underpin this growth and innovation. In comparison with linear channels, non-linear services, while growing, generate a relatively small amount of revenue for COBA members, and the regulatory burden must reflect this if it is not to dampen investment. Many "Catch-Up" VoD services are loss leaders, for example, and are provided to viewers at no additional cost.

In addition, one of the directive's guiding principles, that consumers exercise more control in regard to non-linear services and therefore a lower level of regulation is appropriate, holds true today.

There have been calls to revisit the "country of origin" principle that is at the core of how audiovisual media services in Europe are regulated. How important is that principle to the business of commercial broadcasters?

Few pieces of regulation are more important for our members' businesses than the Country of Origin principle set out in the Audiovisual Media Services directive – but the key point I would like to make is the benefit to EU audiences.

For the avoidance of doubt, I am referring throughout this piece to the principle set out in the AVMS directive, not to any other directive. The AVMSD's Country of Origin rule enables a broadcast or on-demand service – licensed in one EU Member State – to be made available in another country without having to separately obtain another licence at the service's destination. Where, for example, costs and content can be shared amongst channels tailored to multiple Member States, because they comply with a single set of rules, a channel is viable for a more niche audience in each market. This creates more choice for audiences, and supports media pluralism and freedom of expression.

For example, the British Sign Language and Broadcasting Trust (BSLBT) is an organisation in the UK that, supported by broadcasters, provides sign-presented content to the deaf community. It makes a range of signed content available on its on-demand service to viewers in Member States across Europe. Deaf communities in Germany, France, Estonia, Spain and many more countries are watching this content, which is made available under a UK-based notification under the Country of Origin principle in the AVMSD.

The example of the BSLBT is from an independent report COBA recently commissioned on the AVMSD Country of Origin principle from Olsberg SPI. Olsberg are still finalising the report, but their clear conclusions are that the AVMSD's Country of Origin principle has supported the growth of the European broadcasting sector and is critical for unlocking the potential of European non-linear services. Testifying to this, some 41% of linear channels established in Europe are available under the Country of Origin rule, and 34% of on-demand services (this excludes services licensed from outside the EU).

So-called Catch-Up VoD services are particularly dependent on the Country of Origin rule. These are provided by broadcasters to give their audiences on-demand access to their programming for a given period after the original transmission. These are some of the most popular VoD services in Europe (accounting for 29% of all VoD services), but are in general provided to viewers at no additional charge, so there is a real need to keep the costs of providing them down. As you would expect, they are nearly always licensed (or notified) in the same Member State as their parent channel so they can re-use content complied for the linear channel.

Around a third of these (nearly 300 services) are made available under the Country of Origin (mirroring their parent linear services). In a situation where non-linear services were not able to benefit from the Country of Origin rule, these services would clearly be at risk.

As you might also expect, smaller Member States in particular stand to be harmed by the loss of the Country of Origin principle. According to Olsberg's analysis, 41% of linear channels across the EU operate under non-domestic licences supported by the AVMSD's Country of Origin principle. In the ten smallest markets (by population), however, that rises to 75%, reflecting the greater need for economies of scale in markets that might not be able to support a stand-alone channel. To give you an idea of the kind of range and choice these channels offer, in some smaller markets the only children's channels available are provided under non-domestic licences.

COBA's view is that the AVMSD's Country of Origin principle has underpinned economic growth, consumer choice and media plurality in the European audiovisual sector to date, and for the same reasons is set to be pivotal in the on-demand era.

What do you think are the prospects for creating a single market for audiovisual media service in Europe? Is it even desirable?

I would say that it depends on how you define single market. The AVMSD has successfully enshrined an important set of European values, providing for a minimum level of standards and protection for consumers and, through the Country of Origin principle, safeguarding freedom of speech and media plurality, and supporting innovation and the growth of Europe's creative industries, as I have outlined above. At the same time, Member States rightly have the flexibility to prioritise according to national sensibilities. The current balance seems right.

In some of your recent policy papers and consultation responses you have reported impressive growth in the investments of your members in UK original content. As some of your members are large transnational players that operate in multiple European Countries, to what extent is that trend mirrored in the rest of Europe?

These are hugely exciting times for European television content. It's almost a cliché now but television has become the new film, with a range of players all investing in ambitious, high quality original content. Funding has become more fragmented than ever before, flowing from broadcasters, on-demand services, and the production companies, not to mention public support, but that is the new reality.

The most important factor to remember is that it is a mixed ecology. Many COBA members are multi-national, but others are focused on the UK, and some are relatively small. All are investing in different ways, and that mixed approach builds strength into the overall ecosystem, which is less reliant on any one funding stream. QVC, for example, is a shopping channel, that creates 17 hours a day of live television. That high volume of production provides an exceptional training ground for crews and technical staff who go on to work across the industry. It is all part of a mixed ecology, continually building critical mass.

Our analysis of content investment has been focused on the UK so I don't have detailed figures for other Member States. But you can see that investment growing across other markets. Take, the recent European Film Market at the Berlin Film Festival, which held a television drama event to promote investment in European production. At that one event we saw announcements from HBO Europe, Sony Pictures Entertainment and Sky Deutschland involving production in Scandinavia, Germany, Italy and the UK. There is a lot more.

What can be done to boost investment by transnational commercial broadcasters in original content in Europe?

Again, I am not just referring to transnational broadcasters, but to commercial sector broadcasters generally. For COBA, there are two key factors in encouraging investment, and both take time. Firstly, encourage a mixed ecology, where a genuine range of players can grow. That increases creative competition, plurality in commissioning and strengthens the sector as a whole by diversifying funding streams. Frankly, in the world today, where so many different players are investing in content, and production more than ever relies on a patchwork of funding sources, fostering such a mixed ecology seems like common sense.

The second point I would make is to allow the industry to make content that audiences want to watch. That sounds obvious, but it doesn't always happen when companies are forced into quotas or other relatively blunt regulatory instruments. In the UK we have recently experienced something of a transformation, with non-domestic European drama now appearing on our screens in prime time slots, backed by significant marketing. Most importantly, they are achieving record audiences – most recently, German drama Deutschland '83 went out in prime time on Sunday evening and was watched by more than 2 million people.

This didn't happen to fulfil a quota; it is the result of a steady stream of high quality European dramas like Gomorrah on Sky, The Killing on BBC, and The Returned on Channel 4 – broadcast on a range of channels, including both commercial and public interest - breaking down UK audience's preconceptions about foreign-language content.

Of course, it takes time – a lot of time – to develop an industry capable of making shows that resonate with audiences on any consistent basis. I don't mean the funding, which is perhaps more available than ever now, but the creative skills. I found it fascinating, for example, that Denmark has consciously reproduced the American model of the "writer's room" and the primacy of the writer/creator, with of course its own vision. As much as anything, that creative process has established Denmark as one of Europe's key creators of high quality drama, and in the process done far more to promote Danish and European culture abroad than a quota would ever achieve.

And of course underlying these points, the principle of territoriality is still an absolute cornerstone in how production is financed, so needs to be maintained. Undermining the ability of rights owners to tailor how they licence their rights from market to market would harm their ability to generate a return, and so reduce the incentive to invest in creating that content in the first place.

Adam MINNS is Executive Director of the Commercial Broadcasters Association (COBA), the trade association for UK multichannel broadcasters and on-demand services. He leads COBA's work on a range of UK and European legislative and regulatory matters, reporting to COBA's board. He joined from Pact, the trade association for UK independent production companies, where he was Director of Policy and played a key role in Pact's work on the Terms of Trade and a range of other UK and European issues. Prior to Pact, Adam was UK film editor of Screen International, the film business publication, covering the British and European film industries. He has written for the Financial Times and the Independent on Sunday.

[1] The Development of the European Market for On-Demand Audiovisual Services, European Audiovisual Observatory, March 2015.

More information on DigiWorld Economic Journal No. 101 "Towards a single digital audiovisual market" on our website

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Executive Director,

COBA, London


DigiWorld Future 2016


Launching the 16th edition of the DigiWorld Yearbook with a vast and vital forward-looking debate


Over the past 15 years, the DigiWorld Yearbook has forged a reputation as the go-to reference work from Europe’s premier think tank, IDATE DigiWorld. Every year, it delivers an analysis of the latest developments in telecom, Internet and media markets, identifies the core trends around the world and provides a snapshot of the shape of things to come.

To mark the release of the 2016 Yearbook, IDATE DigiWorld is hosting a forward-looking debate on the key trends that will shape the digital economy over the next 10 years. Based on detailed analyses of the current state of affairs, along with development scenarios for 2025 established by our in-house experts, the CEOs and presidents of the sector’s leading companies are invited to comment and share their views on what the digital future holds.

Digital economy & Internet 2025: Will trust imperatives bolster or impede the new digital economy?

Telecom 2025: What role will telcos play in the economy’s digital transformation?

Television 2025: Are we at the dawn of a single, global TV and video market?

Chairman, François Barrault, and CEO, Yves Gassot, along with the IDATE DigiWorld teams will be on hand at the launch events being held in Brussels (25 May), in London (2 June) and in Paris (14 June).

DigiWorld Future London
2 June 2016, BT Centre

>With very special guests:
-    Luis Alvarez, CEO, BT Global Services
-    Rich Montgomery, Group VP and General Manager EMEA, Verizon Enterprise Solutions
-    Sven Heistermann, Director Telecoms, EMEA Strategic Relationships, Google
-    Accenture

DigiWorld Future Paris
A Futur en Seine partner event
14 June 2016, Salle Wagram, with very special guests:

-    Jacques Attali, President, Attali & Associés
-    Thierry Breton, President-CEO, Atos
-    Rodolphe Belmer, CEO, Eutelsat
-    Eric Chaniot, Chief Digital Officer, Michelin
-    Michel Combes, President-CEO, SFR
-    Laurent Curny, President France, Verizon
-    Olivier Huart, President-CEO, TDF
-    Isabelle Kocher, CEO, Engie
-    Gilles Pelisson, President-CEO, TF1
-    Marc Rouanne, Chief Innovation & Operating Officer, Nokia

DigiWorld Future Brussels
25 May 2016, Cercle de Lorraine

With very special guests:
-    John Porter, CEO, Telenet
-    Anthony Whelan, Director Electronic Communications Networks & Services, DG Connect

> To register or access the programme, go to: www.digiworldfuture.com


Connected TV: Accelerating OTT video development


Jacques Bajon
Director of Media & Digital Content Business Unit, IDATE DigiWorld

The development of connected TV is inextricably bound up with the widespread availability of high-speed Internet access, a shift to more and more individual viewing and the proliferation of smart devices in the home.


Together, these three elements are steadily revolutionising how viewers access their TV programmes, and providing them with an array of new functions and features. TV sets can be connected to the Internet in several ways. Using:
a smart or connected TV (direct connection, via Ethernet or Wi-Fi),
a connected set-top box,
a streaming box or stick,a connected game console,
or a smart Blu-ray player.

In 2015, almost three-quarters of the televisions being shipped are Smart TVs, even if their owners may not systematically take advantage of the Internet connection. At the same time, the market for streaming devices – whose main purpose is to play online videos – is progressing rapidly. Within this market that is still populated by a great many solutions and services, several trends are taking shape:
the way users access and employ connected TV services has become more simple, and shifted from Internet-centric to video-centric;
managing connectivity with users’ personal devices has become a key issue, with app systems playing an increasingly central role;
OTT services are moving to the TV and making real strides;

More information about main trends

Technological progress in a variety of areas is helping to bolster the market’s development, be it the growing ubiquity of broadband and superfast broadband access in the consumer market, major improvements in video optimisation and compression (HEVC), or the advent of innovative features such as casting which allows users to send video content from a personal device to the television. The main stakeholders in the connected TV ecosystem can be broken down into three categories, based on their original sector of activity: consumer electronics (CE) companies, TV market players and the Internet’s leaders.
CE industry players are working to improve their software interfaces, either through dedicated developments such as Samsung has done with Tizen, or by acquiring another company, as LG has done with WebOS. The aim is to capture the added-value in the marketplace, whether in the arena of services and/or by selling high-end devices.
Players from the TV universe are developing their OTT products, and working to bolster their position on the software side of the equation with more open and hybrid platforms. The connected TV could enable them to renew ties with consumers, and better monetise their plans. Broadcasters and pay-TV providers, especially in the United States, are therefore starting to roll out complete OTT plans which include a live component
Lastly, companies such as Google, Amazon, Facebook and Microsoft that dominate the Internet, are very knowledgeable about software, and changing consumer habits. So they are in the best position to deliver a top-notch user experience, whether in terms of smooth and intuitive interfaces, or providing recommendations based on user data. Their increasingly vertical positioning – covering everything from the content to the device – is also bolstering their potential to capture a growing portion of the video entertainment market.

In this way, many scenarios are emerging for Connected TV to 2025, and will determine which industries are likely to increase their control over this environment:


The size of the OTT video market will vary considerably under these scenarios, depending on how the environment evolves and so which industries prevail, and The popularity of the different devices will also evolve along the same lines.

Discover the perspectives,  key trends, and scenarios about the TV market for the next decade through our dedicated report and register to DigiWorld Future 2016 

DWF15 video report v3For the publication of the 16th edition of the DigiWorld Yearbook (pre-order now), IDATE is organizing a conference based on the detailed analysis of the current situations and some forecasts by IDATE experts on the major digital sectors, the discussion will deal with the great trends and challenges that will disrupt the digital markets by 2025.




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Will blockchains “Uberize” Airbnb?


Yves Gassot
CEO, IDATE DigiWorld

Previously, in the DigiWorld… Over the past 10 years we have witnessed the rise of the GAFA heavyweight platforms within a winner takes all ecosystem then, without apparently making a dent in these veteran titans, new intermediaries began to emerge, shaking up the status quo in several sectors and, in some instances, seen as the harbingers of a new sharing economy (cf. Jeremy Rifkin).

In recent months, it was the financial sector’s turn to be challenged, this time by the FinTech phenomenon that is ushering in aggregators, multiple mobile payment and banking configurations, crowd-funding and -lending platforms, as well as cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and, perhaps most significantly, its blockchain infrastructure.

So here we are, at the dawn of the blockchain revolution. Thanks to a distributed database technology, which validates transactions (each a link in the chain) through a large collective of Internet users, we have a virtually tamper-proof way of managing transaction logs, without a central server and without an administrator.

Combined with connected objects, such as a front door, and smart contracts (programmes for automatically executing contracts once certain conditions are met), the belief is that blockchain systems could “Uberize” sites such as Airbnb by removing the need for an intermediary between the two parties. But we’re not quite there yet.

Between libertarian dreams and the highly supervised trials being carried out by banks and other companies, it is still hard to get an accurate picture of how efficient blockchain technology is, technically speaking, and how credible the vision of a world in which trust third parties of last resort have disappeared. But it would also be unwise to think that nothing will come of the technology[1] – or of the multiple start-ups that have embraced it to devise applications for sectors as disparate as banking, retail, energy distribution and music.

Whether at the upcoming DigiWorld Summit in Montpellier, whose central theme will be “The Internet of Trust” (15 – 17 November 2016) or the dossier we are preparing for the forthcoming issue of DigiWorld Economic Journal, devoted to “Digital innovation and transformation in the financial sector,” you will have ample opportunity to explore the ins and outs of these fascinating developments with IDATE DigiWorld teams this year.

[1] We have the feeling that smart contracts, which are often lumped in with blockchains, have what it takes to emerge as a solution unto itself and really catch on.


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[1] On a ainsi le sentiment que  la notion de smart contract, souvent plus ou moins confondue avec  la blockchain, devrait pouvoir trouver son indépendance en même temps qu’un réel essor.


The issues of the emergence of a single digital audiovisual market : the French case


Published in DigiWorld Economic Journal DWEJ No. 101

Interview with Nicolas CURIEN & Nathalie SONNAC

Commissioners, Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel (CSA) (*)

Conducted by Alexandre JOLIN  

(*) This interview only reflects the views of the contributors, not the CSA's official positions.


C&S:  Since the late 70's, the European Commission has aimed to harmonize the regulatory landscape for audio-visual in Europe. The TVWF then the AVMS directives have created a legal framework allowing the circulation of linear TV and on-demand audio-visual media services in Europe. As part of the European Commission's Digital Single Market strategy, a review of the AVMSD has begun in 2015 and legislative proposals are due to be set out in 2016. Being the regulatory body for France, as a member state, how is the CSA involved in those consultations? According to you, which issues are to be primarily resolved?

Nicolas CURIEN & Nathalie SONNAC:  Intending to bring its regulator's viewpoint and its expertise in the practice of regulation, the CSA contributed to the European Commission's consultation about the review of the AVMS directive, entitled: "A framework for the audiovisual media in the 21th century". The CSA also participated in the cross-ministerial preparation of the French Authorities' positions and it provided a contribution to the French answer to the AVMS consultation. Mostly, the CSA plays a very active role in the European Regulators Group for Audiovisual Media Services (ERGA), which was chaired, during its two first years of existence (2014-2015), by Olivier Schrameck, the chairman of the CSA. Created in February 2014, by the European Commission as an advisory body examining issues related to media services, the ERGA stands now as a key institutional innovation, pushing forward European audio-visual policy matters. For us, as national regulators, working together within this structure represents a strong opportunity to carry out an in depth future analysis of the audio-visual sector and to stimulate the emergence of common initiatives. The ERGA is in charge of assisting the Commission in the revision of its legislative instruments, as it is now the case for the AVMS directive.

The audiovisual services drastically changed since the adoption of the previous directive in 2007. The present situation, resulting from the dynamics of "convergence", was not anticipated in the first place and it calls for several substantial adjustments in order to take into account the development of on demand non linear services, of interactivity, as well as usage of associated data. Moreover, the irruption into the French and European audio-visual markets of large and worldwide OTT players, such as Netflix or Google, raises a new kind of issues, which must be solved at the European scale. As specifically regards the revision of the AVMS directive, the ERGA produced three reports, published in January 2016, respectively about the independence of national audio-visual regulatory authorities, about the possible extension of the directive to new online players, and about minors' protection. These reports include recommendations which were unanimously approved by the 28 regulators of the European Union's member States. The ERGA thus invites the Commission to incorporate its proposals in the revised directive. An additional report about the territorial competency of regulators will be issued in the course of spring 2016.

One of the proposals on the table is to apply the same obligations placed on TV broadcasters and on-demand TV-like services to online video sharing platforms as well. Is this a realistic solution to complete the existing film and audio-visual financing system?

This issue goes well beyond the particular case of video sharing platforms, as it also includes all digital intermediaries which are commonly designated under the generic term of "platforms", such as content distributors, content aggregators, providers of applications, sharing platforms or suppliers of devices; that is, all players which hold a position between content and usage, making them gatekeepers of the access to content. All actors who develop a strategy around content and/or are involved in the exposition and the promotion of content, especially through algorithms are concerned. Since these new operators do orient consumers and deliver prescriptions to them, they doubtless play an editorial role which is similar, up to a certain extent, to that played by traditional audio-visual editors. Then, it seems both sensible and in line with the driving principles of audio-visual regulatory policy to set up for new players an adapted regime of obligations. However, such a regime should not of course ignore the necessity of sustaining the pace of innovation: when contemplating a new deal and a new toolkit for audio-visual regulation, one must not at the same time slow down the growth of innovative services which largely contribute to widen the exposition of works and do constitute a major source of creativity in the audio-visual sector.

One size does not fit all and all platforms should not be subject to the same degree of regulation: namely, a small platform should not be treated as YouTube. Proportionality should thus be set as a guideline and the regulator should focus in priority on platforms which bear a significant impact onto the market. Moreover, as it would clearly prove inefficient to set local obligations to global players, a common harmonized framework has to be defined within the European Union. Achieving proportionality, within a renewed regulatory scheme designed for digital intermediaries, also requires that rules existing for traditional editors be adapted in order to reach a satisfactory matching between obligations and the specific characteristics of the new actors. More generally, traditional regulation should not be transposed unchanged onto the digital world, a world in which the speed of evolution is very high, in which some players are active at an international scale and in which the business models greatly differ from classical ones. Accordingly, an effective regulation should be based on a triptych associating public policy, users and operators and could mainly rely upon co-regulation and self regulation. Such a perspective is precisely consistent with ERGA's present undertakings, which consist in identifying audio-visual centric platforms, rather than all platforms, with the objective to align their behaviour with the traditional goals of audio-visual public policy, although under a proportionate regulatory approach. Indeed, the public policy goals, which underlie the existing obligations set for traditional actors, such as minors' protection, copyright enforcement, investment in creation, or fair competition, do still prevail for digital platforms. In the Digiworld, goals remain the same; modalities may differ!

With the rise of international OTT services and the ongoing consolidation of the European content industry, how can policymakers best safeguard and promote cultural diversity across Europe?

Reaching a critical size through consolidation is a necessary step to preserve a model of diversified content in Europe. This does not amount to geographic confining, but rather calls for a more extensive and international approach, strongly based upon European cultural specificities. This global strategy should concern production, traditional edition and new digital platforms as well. Europe holds a solid position in terms of local content production and it must derive benefit from it. However, the momentum has to be generated through a coordinated policy, as it cannot result from the separate actions of isolated national players. In this regard, regulators also are at stake and they must rapidly come towards a more inter-institutional approach.

In their efforts to promote the diversity of content, the European editors should use linear TV, which is still by far the dominant mode in consumers' practice, as a kind of "factory" in order to produce pieces of original content promised to become brands of their own and move towards non linear usage on electronic platforms, after a first lifetime spent inside the grids of linear TV in order to get some notoriety. As access through networks is a necessary condition for access to content, synergies between medias and telcos should also be considered in order to extend the scope of content distribution and to reduce its cost. Moreover, promoting diversity heavily depends on the ability of creators to finance their content and make it available to consumers. In this respect, fair access to all distribution channels, especially online platforms, stands as a key enabling factor: hence, the strong attention of regulators to the net neutrality and the content visibility issues

Today, the OTT video industry is mainly driven by non European players such as Netflix, Apple or Liberty Global, which, despite its British implantation, is controlled by a US holding company. According to you, what could be done to ensure the development of a strong European OTT players and ensuring the sustainability of the traditional broadcasting market?

This question relates in part to the issue of rights' territoriality. A right balance has to be found between the two conflicting objectives of maximizing rights' monetization, on the one hand, and extending content's exposition, on the other hand, in a fast moving context where the growth of digital platforms makes territorial enclosure unsustainable against bypass or piracy. Since reaching such a balance likely means substantial change in the present contractual arrangements, a concerted sectorial process is needed gathering together rights holders, editors and distributors.

At least, large national players should contract partnerships and launch together digital Pan-European services, with a strong identity. As already mentioned above, these developments cannot take place at a national scale, while the main international competitors, such as Netflix, do operate worldwide, do offer worldwide content, and are less and less subject to territorial constraints; it is especially the case as regards TV series available in SVOD services, such as House of Cards, exploited under a "free" regime. In this revolutionary context, where the historical category of TV channel might sooner or later be replaced by the upcoming category of brand-content, the sustainability of traditional players is clearly conditioned to their ability and willingness to co-design adaptive and cooperative ways of deriving as much value as possible from their content.

On demand video services are currently regulated in their "country of origin". Some players are denouncing this as a distortion of competition because legal obligations can differ highly from one Member State to another. As was already done for the VAT last year, would it be recommended or possible to apply a "user-centric" approach, setting the focal point on the end-user instead of the service publisher?

The country of origin's principle certainly helped to create a common audio-visual market, as it facilitated the cross-border circulation of services, warranting legal security to broadcasters. In practice, however, this principle proves insufficient to set the conditions of a fair competition across service providers, since the AVMS directive is a framework for coordination, not harmonization, and some member States chose to adopt stricter rules than those prescribed in the directive. This may lead to a particularly critical situation, whenever a service is explicitly directed towards a given State within the Union, although it is established in another one: such as they are today libelled in the directive, the present procedures do not actually allow a member State to apply its possibly stricter rules to a foreign service aiming to reach its citizens. As a consequence, a severe imbalance is potentially created across operators competing in a same local market, some being subject to stronger obligations than others. Then, in order to avoid damageable "regulatory shopping" strategies, a fair and effective competition across all European operators must be guaranteed. In this regard, it is proposed that the European regulation be modified, by introducing an exception to the country of origin's principle, which would allow a given destination country to apply its own rules to those services which specifically address its population. This proposal does not intend to abolish the country of origin's setting, which would remain the general ruling, but just to amend it at the margin, to deal with circumstances where its application would obviously result in a harmful distortion in the marketplace.

The European Commission has also made a legislative proposal to change the copyright framework to allow cross-border portability of online video services, ensuring that consumers can access content they bought when they travelled in other EU countries. Could content portability be a structural threat for national TV industries? What could be the right balance between protecting right holders' revenues and guaranteeing access to consumers?

The European ruling about portability, issued last December, is a most appropriate initiative and it brings very good news to all European citizens, who will have access to their national offers of digital content when they travel abroad within the Union. Yielding such a significant benefit to the travelling and nomadic citizens should nevertheless not threaten the principle of rights' territoriality, which remains a very important piece in the framework in order to preserve a fair remuneration of authors. The application of rights' portability should also not hinder the commercial development of European players. Therefore, the precise conditions of portability now have to be carefully designed, through a clear specification of the criteria, characterizing temporary versus permanent residence. Finally, a realistic time frame should be set, that is not too short a one, in order to ease the operational implementation by operators.

Over the last years, linear TV revenues growth has tended to stagnate in Western Europe while on demand services, mainly SVOD, have been generating increasing traffic with low monetization rate. On the other hand, traditional broadcasters currently face stricter rules than on demand video services in some areas, such as promoting European cultural works. According to you, what would be the right balance between promoting European OTT players and protecting the traditional broadcasting market?

Seeking here for a "right" balance is maybe not fully appropriate, for the consumers do not show a same and unique profile of usage. Consumption practices vary greatly indeed, especially according to age and to social class, which leads to a wide scope of expectations in terms of kind of content, modality of usage and type of viewing device: television, tablet or smartphone. Linear TV and OTT services are likely more complements than substitutes, since they don't address the same audience and are operated under different business models. Therefore, the relevant issue is less that of balancing efforts between online versus traditional supply, than that of designing tailored offers, well fitted to individual contrasted needs, and identifying efficient synergies as regards, for instance, works' circulation and cross-promotion. In this direction, a major difficulty must be overcome: market prices of online services are established at a low level, those of SVOD lying around 10€ per month, in such a way they do not enable a single player to make the substantial investment which is required to produce attractive, competitive and self viable content. Hence, a consolidation of means at the European scale appears as a necessity. Finally, demand must be stimulated as well as supply and, in this respect education to media and to European culture is a key factor of success.

Is there any need for concentration in both service publishing and distribution sectors in order to make European champions emerge? Should this solution be supported by national regulators?

A process of concentration across players located at different links within the audio-visual chain of value, or even between actors present within that chain and outsiders, may already be observed in France, just as it is in other European countries. In France, major recent examples are the fusion of Numericable and SFR, the agreement between Altice and NextRadioTV, the acquisition of Newen by TF1, the integration of Canal+ within Vivendi. Public policy should of course encourage all industrial strategies which favour a cultural rebalancing, enhance the exposition of the French and the European cultural patrimonies and increase their value. Regulators should nevertheless be most attentive in ensuring that major transformations in the audio-visual industry do not bear a threat against fundamental ethical principles, such as liberty of expression, editorial freedom and independence of information.


Nicolas CURIEN, a member of Corps des Mines, sits at the board of the French Regulatory Body for Radio and Television (CSA), since 2015. He also is Emeritus professor at Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers, where he held the chair "Telecommunications Economics and Policy" from 1992 to 2011, before being Commissioner in the French Regulatory Body for Telecommunications and Post from 2005 to 2011. An expert in digital economics, he taught at École Polytechnique from 1985 to 2007 and is a founding member of the French National Academy of Engineering.

Nathalie SONNAC (Doctor of Economics) chaired the Information and Communication Department of Paris 2 from 2009 to 2015 and was in charge of the professional Master 2 "Media & Public". As a media economy expert, culture and digital technology, she is also the author of numerous scientific books and articles in this field. More specifically she analyses the issues of competition and regulation in the digital age, market interaction, new business models, and monetization of digital content. She was appointed Commissioner at the Conseil supérieur de l'audiovisuel by the President of the French National Assembly on January 5, 2015 for a six-year mandate.

More information on DigiWorld Economic Journal No. 101 "Towards a single digital audiovisual market" on our website

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Smart toys: From the onslaught of gaming companies to the prospects for the toy industry


Laurent Michaud
Head of Consumer Electronics & Digital Entertainment Practice

By 2020, nearly 660 million smart toys could be sold, generating estimated revenues of 3.8 billion EUR, or 10.8% of the video game market.


The 'smart toys' or 'toys-to-life' phenomenon is generating a lot of interest because of its massive and rapid success. Smart toys are creating a new form of entertainment without really breaking with the function of toys or that of video games, and are at least as immersive as the two pastimes in their own right. Smart toys now constitute a new market segment, halfway between the video game and toy industries. Four industry players comprise the bulk of the market:

Activision Blizzard with its Skylanders series, which has sold nearly 300 million figurines worldwide (8 games published since 2011)
Disney Games with Disney Infinity, which brings to life its own characters and the universes of its subsidiaries: Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars
Nintendo, which offers 'amiibo' figurines of its most popular characters (more than 10.5 million figurines sold in six months)
At the end of 2015, LEGO gatecrashed the market with LEGO Dimensions and, after experimenting with smart toys with an earlier product called LEGO Fusion, its entrance was successful.

Other industry players, toy manufacturers and video game publishers, such as Hasbro and Mattel, are still at the trial phase or performing 'market tests'.

The main lessons learned from events in 2015 reflect the challenges faced and the successes achieved.
The 'user experience' is central to the smart toy phenomenon, combining tangible objects — which may or may not be connected — with digital entertainment applications. This has given rise to the term 'phygital' to describe the experience.
Business models based on the collection of figurines, dependent on video games to varying extents, continue to evolve and could incorporate Free-to-Play.
Development models are primarily based on a so-called 'first party' or 'second party' approach. These operating models still leave little room for new entrants.
There is a clear dichotomy between 'mainstream' smart toys, produced by industry giants for fixed and visible platforms on the big screen, and new entrants offering their solutions on mobile platforms, where the barriers to entry are not so high.
The success of LEGO shows that convergence between toy manufacturers and video game companies is effective and can lead to AAA toys built around AAA video games.

The success of the smart toys video game segment is based on familiar universes that already have an audience of fans. There are still many fantasy worlds as yet untapped and therefore represent promising avenues for growth.

More information about smart toys market in our dedicated report


DWF15 video report v3For the publication of the 16th edition of the DigiWorld Yearbook (pre-order now), IDATE is organizing a conference based on the detailed analysis of the current situations and some forecasts by IDATE experts on the major digital sectors, the discussion will deal with the great trends and challenges that will disrupt the digital markets by 2025.




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