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Broadband Woes Take Italy Out of Contention

Italy’s subpar broadband speeds make it a much tougher nut to crack for Netflix than most of the rest of Europe. The country is also behind simply in terms of broadband penetration, with just 55% of Italian households having a broadband connection, compared to an average of 72 percent across the EU, according to Eurostat.

That may explain why there are no signs of negotiations between Netflix and Italian producers for SVOD rights deals.

According to sources Netflix has had a preliminary round of early talks for a possible partnership with several Italo internet service providers. “Early” being the operative word. The country’s main ISP players are Telecom Italia, Fastweb, Infostrada and Vodafone.

As for the Italo SVOD scenario Netflix would face, they would be competing with recently launched Infinity streaming platform,

competition includes an offshoot of Silvio Berlusconi’s Mediaset, that offers more than 5,000 titles, with lots of Hollywood fare in the mix; Rupert Murdoch’s soon-to-be launched River, an extension of his Sky Italia paybox, which will be well-stocked, and smaller platforms Cubovision, operated by Telecom Italia, and on-demand Web service Chili TV.

One positive note for Netflix, Italy has a much more friendly and flexible windowing structure than France, which has a 36 month window before a film can be streamed. In Italy that window can be as short as three months

None of these have anything close to Netflix’s potential firepower in terms of content, or even value for money ratio. So there is certainly strong demand in Italy for Netflix.

The problem is that, as one Italo insider put it, “if ten million Italians were to tune in to ‘House of Cards’ on Netflix” they would suck up too much bandwidth for the show to be able to come through on their screens.”

So, until the country’s slow broadband snag is solved — an expensive structural upgrade — Italians will be watching “House of Cards” on Sky.

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