Access to UK premium video-on-demand services in EU and EEA countries ends, as restrictive clauses return.
UK subscribers will not be able to officially access their subscription video-on-demand services while travelling abroad, as geo-blocking returns.
Affected services include Netflix, Amazon Prime, Now TV and ITV Hub+. These services were available within the European Single Market as a result of an outlawing of contracts inserted by rights holders, including sports governing bodies and Hollywood film studios.
Following the end of the Brexit transition period, UK laws say that subscription video-on-demand operators are no longer “required” to offer such portability. They are however not banned from doing so.
But rights holders who previously restricted broadcasters and on-demand providers from offering access to users outside of the UK, have now been able to reactivate clauses into their contracts which stop this practice. The European Commission previously ruled these were anti-competitive. All restrictive clauses were overridden by new rules permitting portability, at least for short periods of time.
With EU rules no longer in force in the UK, rights holders have reasserted their rights, meaning that licensing issues rather than legal issues have blocked access. The UK shows no signs of classing these clauses are anti-competitive.
At the present time, travel restrictions mean it may take some time before consumers realise the impact of the changes.
EU subscribers to on-demand and live TV services are also affected, and will no longer be able to offer full access to their citizens travelling to the UK as protection against rights holders who take legal action is no longer available outside of the European Single Market.
As a result, more viewers may be tempted to make use of Virtual Private Networks (VPN) to access programmes when out of the country, despite efforts by rights holders and intellectual rights organisations to stop this.