Netflix Exit After Brexit?

Caitlin Disken discusses the potential limitations of post-Brexit Netflix

Caitlin Disken
29th October 2018
credit: flickr


Picture this... It’s summer 2019. You’re settling down to watch the last ever season of Orange is the New Black. You load up your Netflix, ready to hear the iconic theme tune blasting out of your phone. There’s just one problem – you’re on holiday in Europe. Thanks to Britain crashing out of the European Union without a deal just a few months earlier, you can’t access your Netflix account.

At the moment, due to new regulation, you can access streaming services like you would at home anywhere in the EU. This is thanks to the EU Portability Regulation, which came into effect on April 1st. Following the abolition of roaming charges across the EU in 2017, research was undertaken to find out what else was causing EU consumers concern. It was found that more than 40% of Europeans abroad who had tried to access online films and TV series failed.

This was a problem that was even more prevalent amongst young people, with 60% of 15-24 year olds stating that being able to travel with their streaming content was an important factor in paying for a subscription. Before the regulation came into effect, if you were abroad in Spain and tried to access Netflix, you could only access the Spanish version, not the UK version that you pay for. On 29th March 2019, unless a deal is made between Britain and the EU, this is the reality UK consumers will face again.

The government have released papers which warn that the Portability Regulation will no longer apply if a No Deal Brexit occurs. Although you’d still be able to watch some of your favourite shows, Netflix has admitted that there’s no guarantee you’ll have access to all the same titles you find at home. The streaming giant stated that “local catalogues vary due to licensing and local tastes”, with the government’s papers backing this up, revealing that “UK consumers may see restrictions to their online content services when they temporarily visit the EU.” In other words, if you start a series in the UK, don’t expect to be able to watch the rest of it in Paris, Berlin or Lisbon.

Whilst Netflix may not be high up on Theresa May’s priorities list as she attempts to actually get somewhere with Brexit negotiations, it’s certainly an important issue for young people. We’re living in an age where it’s the norm amongst millennials to shell out £5.99 a month for a Netflix subscription. To deliver a Brexit for everyone, not just the over 65s, retaining the Portability Regulation should definitely be something on the government’s mind.

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