Netflix and Amazon should be legally required to hand over viewing data for British-originated shows to UK public service broadcasters and media regulator Ofcom, according to an influential group of lawmakers.
British Parliament’s Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee (DCMSC) said broadcasters, including the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5, had a right to know how shows that they originally commissioned are performing on major streaming services.
In a report on the future of UK public service broadcasting, the committee said the UK government should introduce legislation that compels Netflix, Amazon and others to share top-line viewing data “to enable full analysis of PSB reach.” This would mean Netflix providing the BBC with information on how shows like Bodyguard and Peaky Blinders are performing.
The DCMSC report added that updated media laws should ensure that streamers clearly label and brand British content with the logo of the broadcaster from which it originated. Lawmakers acknowledged that this is already happening, but said it is not comprehensive, pointing out that episodes of The Fall are not branded with the BBC logo on Amazon Prime Video.
Netflix and Amazon, in particular, have libraries that are well stocked with shows originally made for the BBC, ITV, Channel 4 and Channel 5. Ofcom estimates that 1,276 hours of UK public service broadcaster content is on Netflix alone, and that young people are more likely to watch BBC content on streamers rather than iPlayer.
Netflix and Amazon are likely to fight any attempt to legislate data sharing. In evidence to the DCMSC, they argued that it would be commercially sensitive. The committee of lawmakers disagreed.
“We do not believe that sharing top line viewer data about PSB-originated content with Ofcom and the relevant the PSB would be commercially sensitive. Streaming services are an important ‘second window’ for PSB content but without viewer data, it is difficult to fully assess the reach of PSBs,” the DCMSC report said.
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