Machine translation obtained using Elia by Elhuyar
Yearbook 2019 | Miren Manias Muñoz (UPV/EHUko irakaslea eta ikertzailea)

This article focuses on changing audiovisual consumption habits and developing global actors to analyze the situation of content in minority languages. Specifically, the case of the Basque Country. First, it shows the trend towards television content consumption in recent years; although demand has increased, it is on streaming visits that the greatest increase occurs. In fact, in the Basque Country, the habit of watching television in a digital way is spreading, almost 25% of the population claims to watch television on the Internet. Secondly, the development of global players and the market capacity of streaming platforms are analyzed. In Euskal Herria, almost 30% of the population has an account on a digital platform of cultural content — films and series, music and digital books. In addition, film and series platforms are the most successful. Thirdly, the situation of digital audiovisual content in Basque is described, affecting weaknesses and strengths. Finally, the conclusions contain concrete proposals to strengthen the sector.

Changes in audiovisual consumption habits

Between 2005 and 2015, and in the five strongest countries of the European Union (EU) (United Kingdom, Germany, Spain, France and Italy), the average daily time per person increased considerably: from approximately 220 minutes (almost three and a half hours) from 250 minutes (more than four hours). In other words, the demand for audiovisual content increased. However, the most striking change occurred in the consumption model. Despite the increase in the total number of minutes, the greatest increase occurred on streaming, from 2009, in terms of content of long and short format, recorded programs and pay television. Conversely, direct consumption has evolved in the opposite direction since 2012, has not increased further and in 2015 has decreased to 2005 values.



According to the European Audiovisual Observatory (OBS), recorded programme visits in 2017 accounted for 14% and 9% of weekly television consumption in the United Kingdom and France, respectively (OBS, 2019: 38). Thus, it can be concluded that in recent years live television consumption has decreased even more (and faster). Especially among young audiences.

According to the Basque Observatory of Culture, 8% of the population of the Basque Country (Basque Country, Navarre, Northern Basque Country) watch television daily (Basque Observatory of Culture, 2019: 34). By age, however, there are significant differences. For example, the age group that sees television less on a daily basis is 15 to 24 years (57.5%), while the age group over 65 years (93.7%) (Basque Observatory of Culture, 2019: 98). On the other hand, the percentage of young people between the ages of 15 and 24 who never or hardly ever watch television is 12.5%, while for those over 65 it is only 2.5%.


Given the high social presence of television consumption, attention should be paid to the dissemination of digital practice. In Euskal Herria, almost 25% of the population views television through the Internet with some assiduity (11.1%) or sporadically (11.8%). However, the percentage of digital users who never or almost never consume television is still predominant: 77.1%. (1)

Global actors

The change in audiovisual consumption habits has come from the development of technology and digitalization. At the same time, global Internet players have plunged into a huge avalanche. Streaming platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO and Hulu, among others. In addition to the distribution of audiovisual content, some of them also produce own products with the aim of removing intermediaries and maintaining control over the entire value chain. According to the European Audiovisual Observatory (OBS), in the European Union, the paid video content sector has grown faster than the audiovisual market as a whole (2): Between 2016 and 2017 it increased by 34% (OBS 2019: 44). On the contrary, the audiovisual market as a whole is only 1.5%. In 2017, payment services and programs accounted for 77% of the market increase. Specifically, 67% of this amount corresponds to paid video subscriptions (SVOD), i.e. services that offer unlimited access to content by paying a fee.

The TV model is being implemented to consume all the content you want, at the moment and wherever you want. As well as the business model based on subscribers. Subscriptions are actually the main engine of the paid video market. From 2013 to 2017, the number of subscriptions increased by 45.7% annually. This increased market revenue from EUR 363.7 million to EUR 3.65 billion. In 2017, 53.9 million subscriptions to pay streaming platforms were counted in the EU. However, 81% of them were distributed on two American platforms: Netflix (46%) and Amazon Prime Video (35%). Thus, both companies raised 74% of revenues from EU SVOD platforms. In this way, consumer attention and the economic benefit of the sector are concentrated.

In this context, what is the trend of the population of the Basque Country? According to the 1994 cultural participation survey, almost 30% of the population owns some kind of digital platform of cultural content (Basque Observatory of Culture, 2019: 54). Considering regular Internet users, this percentage rises to almost 40%. Subscribing to digital platforms has a significant impact on young people. Specifically, the 15-24 age group had the highest presence (73%), while the oldest (12.6%). On the other hand, digital platforms also have a significant weight among the population aged 25-34 years and 35-44 years: 59% and 40% respectively.


By content typology of these platforms, almost 21% of the population of the Basque Country has an account on a film and series platform, 20.1% on music platforms and 4.5% on a digital book platform. Among those who regularly use the Internet, these percentages also increase considerably: 69.5%, 67.4% and 15% respectively. Age did not show significant differences. However, subscriptions to film and series platforms are the most successful in virtually all age groups—65 (64.4%), 55-64 (74%), 45-54 (66.3%), 35-44 (68.4%), 25-34 (73%) and 15-24 (68.2%)—except among the youngest. Subscriptions to music platforms predominate among the population aged 15-24 (79.8%) (Basque Observatory of Culture, 2019: 127).

Contents in Basque

The traditional television model is no longer worth it. On the one hand, because the Internet has become the main support for video production, and on the other, because live television consumption has not experienced any growth in recent years, even has little presence among the young audience(3). At the same time, the increase in television channels has led to strong advertising competition and increased capacity of advertisers. This trend has left traces in Basque television consumption. For example, the audience share of ETB 1 has to be seen. In 2019, the average share in the Autonomous Community of the Basque Country (CAPV) was 2%. The chain in Basque lost two tenths of the previous year (see figure below). But ETB 1 is a figure that is far from the television channels that can be seen for free. What to say about ETB 3’s audience share: % ko. Conversely, thematic and payment chains have a clear leadership role in the CAPV: They acquired an average audience share of 38.5% in 2019, which is 1.3 more points than in 2019.


Due to its trajectory in the last decade, the audience share of ETB 1 stands at similar values, between 1.9% and 2.2% in the period 2010-2019. But if you look at the share you got further back, the figures for the last years of the Basque chain have been significantly lower. In fact, in 2004, ETB 1 acquired an audience share of 5.3%. That"s 3.3 more points than in 2019.


Thus, contents in Basque should be adapted to new forms of audiovisual consumption. In other words, they must have a digital presence. And what"s their current place? Regarding Basque public television, most of the contents produced in Basque are available at the EITB Nahieran service. Includes documentaries, series and films. Those produced in Spanish, on the contrary, do not double or sub-write the Basque language. Moreover, the digital TV platform is not easy to use, as ETB director Edu Barinaga announced in February his contribution to the TV improvement service (Urkizu, 2018). Before writing these lines, however, there has been no news – and 2020 has already begun. In addition, EITB does not publish data on demand. Therefore, it is difficult to know the situation of these digital content in Basque. In addition to ETB’s offer are the Basque content offered by local television companies, Hamaika Telebista, Berria telebista and the multimedia portal Argia. In general, however, there are few movies and series.


Concerning other initiatives, mention should be made of the Zinema Euskaraz project(4). Initiative launched in 2007 by the portal and the Department of Culture of the Basque Government. It offers the possibility to watch several films in Basque, both in the original and folded language. In total there are 43 films today, animated, fiction and documentary. Consumer information on this digital portal is not available either.

Since 2015 there has been an eLibrary service offered by the libraries of the Basque Public Reading Network. Platform for the consumption of digital content via the Internet. You can borrow films in Basque and audio-visual (original or sub-written in Basque), by streaming, on your computer or on portable devices. However, to obtain results by language it is necessary to perform an advanced search and it is difficult to find the contents available in Basque. There are currently 110 films in Basque. On the other hand, the Basque Government does not have published information on the consumption of this service either.

Regarding payment streaming platforms, according to a study by Urtzi Urkizu BERRIA, content in Basque is scarce (5). On the Amazon Prime Video platform you can see, for example, two animated feature films in Basque: Dragon Ball Z: Fukkatsu no F (2015) and Dragoi Ball Super: Broly (2019).On Netflix the only Basque offer is Handia (2017) and Errementari (2017) feature films. In the other payment platforms (HBO, Movistar Plus and Apple TV) there is no impediment to the Basque Country, Movistar Plus ETA. Although in the documentary The end of silence can be heard several interviews in Basque. According to Urkizu, the exception is the Filmin platform. The Catalan service offers over 30 works in Euskera, most of them fictional feature films, including Eutsi! (2007), Ander (2009), 80 egunean (2010), Bypass (2012), Loreak (2014) and Agur Etxebeste! Movies (2019). You can also find animated and documentary works in Basque in the Filmin catalog. Moreover, some foreign animated films are folded to the Basque language. Como la coroleva Snezhnaya (2012), Le petit Prince (2015) and Loi: {\{\{\{\} Aldrei Einn (2018). On the other hand, the consumption data of the Catalan platform are not available, so there is no way to know the level of demand for works in Euskera. Finally, it should be noted that in February 2020 this platform launched the Filmin Euskaraz channel, that is, the specific section of contents that Filmin already had in Euskera. New films have been added to the catalog and aim to increase the number of titles created, folded to Euskera or subtitles in Euskera.

Moreover, almost the only possibility to watch digital series, films or documentaries in Basque is through subtitles created by volunteers without extraordinary financial support. On the one hand, the Euskera Subtitles project, born in 2008, is worth noting. In ten years, the initiative covered nearly a thousand subtitles. In spring 2008, they also received a grant of EUR 3,270 from the Provincial Council of Gipuzkoa. ‘Renewal of the website, incorporation of new content and at least subtitling of 100 new films and 50 series of different series’(6). On the other hand, thanks to the collaboration of the Basque Government with the company Distribuidora de Televisión Digital, S.A., there are subtitles in Basque of 279 films and 225 episodes of 24 series available in the Basque Country Open Data. In particular, the films and production series in foreign language offered on the Movistar+ Premieres platform.



1.- It is urgent to create a digital content strategy in Basque

“Our big challenge is digital.” Words of Bigen Zupiria, Minister of Culture and Linguistic Policy of the Basque Government, collected in the Gara newspaper, in the interview held on 9 February 2020 (Soto, 2019). In this sense, it is important to ensure the presence of audiovisual content in Euskera in the digital sphere and it would be necessary to invest in films and series for its consumption over the Internet, as well as to monitor its consumption. It is unbelievable, therefore, that in 2020 the Basque Government does not yet have a digital strategy or a specific subsidy for the creation of audiovisual content in Basque intended for consumption on the Internet. And if you want to stay, the Basque needs digital mastery.

2.- Need to increase the minimum offer of contents in Basque

While the big languages (and not so big) are creating products of fiction, animation and documentary to be seen digitally. In this sense, the production of series and films in Basque is limited. The main organization capable of generating and promoting this type of content is ETB. Thanks to their collaboration, on average, every year a feature feature film in Basque is released. On the other hand, it has been three and a half years without offering series in Basque for adults. In the spring of 2016 he released the last episode of the series “Eskama gabe”. In December 2019 the following came: The leak. In order to adapt to the new times, ETB issued the five chapters in line for five days. Despite its prime time offer, it did not achieve good results in audience, with an average of 16,000 viewers in the CAPV. More concerning, 0% of the population aged 25-44 years. ETB announces three new short series in 2020. Although it does not specify in which language and for what purpose it will support them, from the standardisation point of Euskera it is not enough. Thus, the contents of the other languages should be translated into Basque, through dubbing and subtitles.

3. Regulating the activity of global actors at national level

The main competitiveness instruments of global actors are global reach, large economic resources, the supply of leading content and customer information. It is precisely the traditional agents who are fragile. These tools, in turn, have given global platforms a central place in offering audiovisual content and power with traditional suppliers. According to the European Audiovisual Observatory (OBS), of the 47,553 films from the 37 pay streaming platforms analysed in the EU, EU films accounted for only 19% of the offer, while US films accounted for 67% of the titles (Fontaine and Grace, 2016: 09). In November 1990 the European Audiovisual Services Directive was revised and an important section was added in relation to the production and distribution of content (Council of Europe, 2018: 66). Among others, the order was established to ensure a minimum supply of original European films in catalogues of pay-streaming platforms. Since then, 30% of the films in these catalogues must be European. However, there are no European measures to protect audiovisual content in minority languages. More concrete action at national level is therefore needed to regulate the activity of global players.

4. No investigation, no direction

Currently, Basque society does not have a decent offer to consume on the Internet in Basque. Moreover, scarce research on the existing hinders the identification of weaknesses and strengths. It is true that the audiovisual sector is changing at a dizzying pace and that what will happen in the near future are more questions than answers. However, research is essential for the development of the sectoral strategy. Both quantitative and qualitative. Education and cooperation with public and private actors in the sector. The results obtained will reflect the different methodologies or work strategies to identify and face the challenges.


Broadband TV News (2016): Italy watched most TV in Western Europe in 2015, <>.

EITB (2019): Report 2019, < -2019-Source -EITB .pdf>.

Council of Europe (2018): DIRECTIVE OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 14 November 2018 Directive 2010/13/EU on the coordination of certain provisions laid down by law, regulation or administrative action in Member States concerning the media audiovisual provision of media Services/VI.

Fontaine, G. and Grace, C. (2016): Origin of films and TV content in VOD catalogues & Visibility of films on VOD services, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, France, <>.

Basque Observatory of Culture (2019): Survey of cultural participation of the Basque Country. Results report, Central Publishing Service of the Basque Government, <\ _\/eh_2018/eu_def/attachments/{\ -{\{\{\{\{\{\{\}.

SVB (2019): Yearbook 2018/2019. Key trends, European Audiovisual Observatory, Strasbourg, France, <>.

Soto, I. (2019): ‘Our community is small and gives itself what it gives’, <https://www.naiz .eus/eu/newspaper library/gara/editions/2020-02-09/newspaper library _articles/{ -en-pequena -y-da-de-si-lo-que-da>.

Urkizu, U. (2018): ‘We improve on-demand service by putting money for it’, <https://www.berria .eus/berriak/148971/na-service-implemented and implemented -da-for it.

_________ (2019): The students of the UPV/EHU were very fond of the first episode of ‘The Getaway’, <https://www.berria .eus/berriak/175168/ -\ -\ -\ -\ -produce -lsquoescapadarsquo-prechiro.htm>.

__________ (2019b): What can you see in Basque? <https://www.berria .eus/paper/1859/028/001/2019-12-11/zer-ikus-jakin.htm>

________ (2020): The ETB 1 chain has lost two tenths in the last year, <https://www.berria .eus/paperekoa/1866/028/001/2020-01-03/etb -be-bi-hamarren -present-issue -htm>.

1.- The report of the Basque Cultural Observatory does not contain concrete data on digital television users, such as indicators related to sex or age.

2.- The audiovisual market includes free television, pay television, pay video subscriptions, movie theatres and domestic physical and digital video.

3.- According to a study by the UPV/EHU, young people "have a great fondness for fiction, but especially for digital media: free and paid platforms" (Urkizu, 2019a).

4.- The portal of Zinea Euskaraz is located in the following link

5.- Report published on December 11, 2019 (Urkizu, 2019b).

6.- All information is on the website of the https initiative://

7.- The development of this collaboration can be found at