How we pursue entertainment is changing thanks to improvements in technology. Europeans now enjoy faster internet and more readily available mobile technology than ever before, with performance and connectivity improving year on year.
For consumers, the cost of entertainment enjoyed via technology is also continually falling in price, meaning it’s often cheaper to stay at home than to visit traditional entertainment venues. This is having a significant impact on the entertainment industry as a whole, bringing great changes to how Europeans prefer to spend their leisure time.
Cinemas versus Video on Demand
Europeans still enjoy going to cinemas in their droves, according to annual reports published by the International Union of Cinemas (UNIC). Over 1.25 billion people visited cinemas for a fourth consecutive year in 2017 according to UNIC data analysis. However, there were also some interesting trends developing in certain key countries.
Although cinema attendances continued to grow in the UK (+1.4%) and Germany (+1.0%), these figures are down on previous years. Meanwhile, attendance actually fell in other major markets such as France (-1.8%), Spain (-0.5%) and Italy (-12.4%), compared to previous years. This can be partly explained by ticket prices in these countries being amongst the highest, but there’s also another important factor at play.
Over the last several years, video on demand (VoD) streaming services have grown exponentially, as they have become more widely available across the European market thanks to improved internet connectivity and mobile communications. It’s no coincidence that in the countries that have experienced stagnation or declining cinema attendances, VoD services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and HBO have recorded the fastest growth.
For roughly the same cost of a ticket to see one movie at a cinema in these European countries, people can subscribe to VoD services for a month. During that time, they could enjoy watching as many movies as they want from the comfort of their own homes, all without the extra cost of travelling to a cinema.
The online casino phenomenon
Akin to the challenges facing the cinema industry in Europe, traditional land-based casinos are also noting a rapid decline in attendances throughout all countries. This is largely due to the technological boom over the last decade in particular, given there’s a much bigger choice of online casino sites than ever before, thanks to improved internet and mobile communications services.
While the land-based casinos are fairly limited in terms of the services and gaming options they can provide at their venues, online casino doesn’t have the same expensive overheads or operating costs to consider. This means they can offer attractive bonus offers to encourage players to visit their sites, whilst also offering a much broader range of gaming entertainment. As a look at Redbet will prove, online casinos tend to include far more variants on traditional games such as slots, poker, blackjack and roulette than land-based casinos.
According to Market Watch reports, the global online gambling and gaming market is set to exceed revenues of $525 billion USD (roughly €464 billion) by 2023. The iGaming trend has boomed thanks to the increased penetration of faster home internet connections and mobile applications, particularly in key European countries such as the UK, France, Spain, Italy and Germany.
The video games industry as a whole, of which iGaming is now a major sector, actually overtook the cinema industry for global revenues in 2018 for the first time. This is evidence of increased demand for entertainment which offers interaction and participation, along with the convenience of people being able to be entertained whenever they want, wherever they want.
Future of traditional entertainment venues
There’s no doubt that traditional cinema and land-based casino venues face a challenging future, as they attempt to remain relevant in the face technological advances, which in turn, have completely changed how people pursue their favoured entertainment activities. This could lead to some traditional venues falling by the wayside, as people increasingly turn to home entertainment instead.
However, traditional cinema venues and land-based casinos do seem prepared to adapt in these changing times. Cinemas are now often located in shopping centres with restaurants and cafes, catering for an audience who want to experience going out to watch movies as a social event, something to be enjoyed in the company of family and friends.
Likewise, land-based casinos are shifting their focus. Many existing venues are offering clients a more exclusive or VIP experience, or event-based packages with live music and other entertainment on offer, aside from the traditional table games and slots. The resort experience also continues to receive huge investment, although this is shifting away from Europe and the USA, to focus on the booming market in Asia.
The demand for unique venue-based entertainment experiences will remain for the foreseeable future, although the phenomenal growth of home and mobile entertainment consumption poses a huge challenge for traditional venues in the years to come. How entertainment providers change and adapt their efforts will be important to their survival.
Issuance of green bonds will strengthen the international role of the euro
Eurogroup ministers discussed the international role of the euro (15 February), following the publication of the European Commission's communication of (19 January), ‘The European economic and financial system: fostering strength and resilience’.
President of the Eurogroup, Paschal Donohoe said: “The aim is to reduce our dependence on other currencies, and to strengthen our autonomy in various situations. At the same time, increased international use of our currency also implies potential trade-offs, which we will continue to monitor. During the discussion, ministers emphasized the potential of green bond issuance to enhance the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate transition objective.”
The Eurogroup has discussed the issue several times in recent years since the December 2018 Euro Summit. Klaus Regling, the managing director of the European Stability Mechanism said that overreliance on the dollar contained risks, giving Latin America and the Asian crisis of the 90s as examples. He also referred obliquely to “more recent episodes” where the dollar’s dominance meant that EU companies could not continue to work with Iran in the face of US sanctions. Regling believes that the international monetary system is slowly moving towards a multi-polar system where three or four currencies will be important, including the dollar, euro and renminbi.
European Commissioner for the Economy, Paolo Gentiloni, agreed that the euro’s role could be strengthened through the issuance of green bonds enhancing the use of the euro by the markets while also contributing to achieving our climate objectives of the Next Generation EU funds.
Ministers agreed that broad action to support the international role of the euro, encompassing progress on amongst other things, Economic and Monetary Union, Banking Union and Capital Markets Union were needed to secure the euros international role.
European human rights court backs Germany over Kunduz airstrike case
The ruling by the Strasbourg-based court rejects a complaint by Afghan citizen Abdul Hanan, who lost two sons in the attack, that Germany did not fulfil its obligation to effectively investigate the incident.
In September 2009, the German commander of NATO troops in Kunduz called in a U.S. fighter jet to strike two fuel trucks near the city which NATO believed had been hijacked by Taliban insurgents.
The Afghan government said at the time 99 people, including 30 civilians, were killed. Independent rights groups estimated between 60 and 70 civilians were killed.
The death toll shocked Germans and ultimately forced its defence minister to resign over accusations of covering up the number of civilian casualties in the run-up to Germany’s 2009 election.
Germany’s federal prosecutor general had found that the commander did not incur criminal liability, mainly because he was convinced when he ordered the airstrike that no civilians were present.
For him to be liable under international law, he would have had to be found to have acted with intent to cause excessive civilian casualties.
The European Court of Human Rights considered the effectiveness of Germany’s investigation, including whether it established a justification for lethal use of force. It did not consider the legality of the airstrike.
Of 9,600 NATO troops in Afghanistan, Germany has the second-largest contingent behind the United States.
A 2020 peace agreement between the Taliban and Washington calls for foreign troops to withdraw by May 1, but U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration is reviewing the deal after a deterioration in the security situation in Afghanistan.
Germany is preparing to extend the mandate for its military mission in Afghanistan from March 31 until the end of this year, with troop levels remaining at up to 1,300, according to a draft document seen by Reuters.
Digitalization of EU justice systems: Commission launches public consultation on cross-border judicial co-operation
On 16 February, the European Commission launched a public consultation on the modernization of EU justice systems. The EU aims to support member states in their efforts to adapt their justice systems to the digital age and improve EU cross-border judicial co-operation. Justice Commissioner Didier Reynders (pictured) said: “The COVID-19 pandemic has further highlighted the importance of digitalization, including in the field of justice. Judges and lawyers need digital tools to be able to work together faster and more efficiently.
At the same time, citizens and businesses need online tools for an easier and more transparent access to justice at a lower cost. The Commission strives to push this process forward and support member states in their efforts, including as regards facilitating their cooperation in cross-border judicial procedures by using digital channels.” In December 2020, the Commission adopted a communication outlining the actions and initiatives intended to advance the digitalization of justice systems across the EU.
The public consultation will gather views on the digitalization of EU cross-border civil, commercial and criminal procedures. The results of the public consultation, in which a broad range of groups and individuals can participate and which is available here until 8 May 2021, will feed into an initiative on digitalisation of cross-border judicial cooperation expected at the end of this year as announced in the 2021 Commission's Work Programme.
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