Eli5:Why haven’t most major streaming services went international?


Seems like the easiest way to make more money would be spreading to Asia and Europe, but alot of services remain only in North America.

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Like which one for example? Disney, Netflix and some others are available in Europe. Some may not be, but here there are also local streaming services, which are not available in the US

Short answer, because most license holders don’t provide global licenses, so if you want to open up to Europe/Asia you’ve to negotiate new licenses. Sometimes that’s a regional license, but it’s often a country specific license, so Europe, is actually a dozen or so licenses to hit just the big markets.

I’ll give you a precise, anecdotal data point for an example. I’m from Zimbabwe, which has had a history of troublesome politics that have led to numerous sanctions imposed on Zimbabwean trade and commerce. You’d think that isn’t a big deal for most people, but here’s the consequence: companies like Mastercard and Visa have had very little power in my country, and so when fun things like iTunes, Amazon, and Netflix were first cropping up, people like me weren’t able to make any digital purchases for anything because *digital purchases are tied to billing addresses*, and somewhere in that pipeline Mastercard/Visa refused to acknowledge Zimbabwean billing addresses as viable for making transactions on the internet.

Many companies that own rights to stream content in the US don’t own the rights to stream the same content elsewhere.

Even streaming companies that do operate internationally like Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime don’t offer the same content in all locations.

This is why companies like apple, Netflix etc are putting so much money into creating original content that they own everywhere, because they never sold it to anyone.

Here’s an example: HBO has a deal with Bell Canada for exclusive distribution rights for ALL their titles in Canada. As long as Bell keeps throwing enough money at it renewing the agreement, HBO isn’t allowed to come in and have HBO max in Canadas concurrencing Bell’s service called Crave within Canadian borders.

This is the way many TV and movie studios work when licensing valuable, A list properties internationally, has been that way for decades. Suddenly comes these streaming services trying to bypass this, and they have to content with local media companies who either paid for exclusive distribution rights (less management and bother for license owners) or at least an expensive minimum price point if the license isn’t exclusive. Since TV ads still bring in more money than online streaming subscriptions(in the process of tipping over to streaming, but not there yet), streamers have to be picky about which properties are worth he price.