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Dutch Competition Authority publishes market study into online video streaming platforms

Dutch Competition Authority publishes market study into online video

Dutch Competition Authority publishes market study into online video streaming platforms

01.09.2017

On 22 August 2017, the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) published a study into the market for online video streaming platforms. Although the study did not find any indications of anticompetitive conduct or dominant market power, the authority warned that it will keep a close eye on developments in this sector.

On 22 August 2017, the Dutch Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) published a study into the market for online video streaming platforms. Although the study did not find any indications of anticompetitive conduct or dominant market power, the authority warned that it will keep a close eye on developments in this sector.

The study notes that online video platforms such as Youtube and Netflix have become increasingly popular over the last decade. Some of these platforms (e.g. Youtube) generate revenue by selling online advertising space to advertisers, while others use a subscription based model (e.g. Netflix). Although the ACM did not undertake a fully-fledged market definition analysis, its findings indicated that consumer data plays a key role in the offering, buying and reselling of online advertising space. As for potential competition risks, the study looked into three different scenarios:

  1. First, the ACM investigated whether the collection of consumer data by platforms resulted in market power. The ACM found that there is no automatic relationship between data collection and market power because, for example, new entrants are sufficiently able to start collecting data after they have entered the video streaming market.
  2. Second, the study explored whether competition concerns arise if a platform with a relatively high market share (e.g. Youtube) only trades its advertising space via its own trading technology. The ACM concluded that this is unlikely, as there appears to be no platform with a dominant position in online video advertising at present.
  3. Third, the study inquired whether online platforms such as Facebook act as 'bottlenecks', forcing content creators to be active on these platforms if they want to reach consumers. At this moment in time, the ACM found that there are plenty of other ways to reach the public other than through large platforms.

     

Accordingly, the ACM found no competition problems in any of the three scenarios. However, a preliminary investigation into the general terms and conditions of the platforms found that some conditions are unfair from a consumer law perspective.

The study by the ACM follows the publication of the e-commerce sector inquiry by the European Commission in May 2017 [see our June 2017 Newsletter]. It is now clear that the digital economy is also on the ACM's radar, although it remains to be seen whether national enforcement action will follow.

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