Yes, you can now watch your streaming services in the rest of the EU

Abroad in the EU

Since TMINE is about to head off on holiday to France for a bit of a break, it seems appropriate to let y’all know of an exciting development. A little while ago, I pointed out how silly it was that thanks to the arcane nature of licensing agreements, I couldn’t watch while I was in Germany Babylon Berlin, a Sky Deutschland production licensed to Sky Atlantic in the UK. I had UK viewing rights, I was in Germany, but I couldn’t watch it.

However, delightful regular reader Adam Bowie pointed out in the comments that thanks to the European Commission, that situation was about to change and soon I’d be able to watch UK services abroad.

When is this glorious future set to arrive? Why, children, it’s already here! As of yesterday, the EU’s nascent digital single market introduced a new rule for streaming services: provided someone’s not actually upped-sticks and permanently moved to another EU country, they should be entitled to view all the things they can view at home in said country – without additional charges.

Sky has already emailed me to confirm it’s signed up to the rule:

EU roaming

In practice, this means that provided you’re not away from home for more than 30 days and you’re in an EU country, you should be able to watch Sky, Netflix, Amazon et al without being blocked. I”m not sure about Amazon, since it doesn’t seem to have updated its site, but I’ll test it and other services if I can this week. And if you’re on holiday or working in the EU this week and get a chance to test some services, let us know below which ones worked!

There are two things to consider here:

  1. Paradoxically, the rule only applies to services for which you pay. That means Now TV, for example, is in that et al of services I listed above. But free services aren’t included in the rule, so at the moment, the likes of iPlayer and All 4 are definitely not covered. If they do end up offering services abroad, you might end up paying for the privilege, too.
  2. You’ve got almost exactly a year to enjoy this freedom before Brexit kicks in, after which we’re out both the EU and the single market, so the rule will no longer apply. Of course, companies may choose to continue as before and given Theresa May’s currently Brexit plan consists of “let’s keep being in the EU until we’ve worked out what we actually want from this Brexit thing, because no one has a clue at the moment”, if we agree a transition agreement, we might still be in the single market for another year or so, in which case the rule will still apply.

If you want to know more, ironically (given Sky doesn’t want to say much about why it’s being so generous), The Sun actually has one of the best summaries of the whole situation and why it’s happening. I’m thinking their tech writers might be a bit younger than some of the other writers…