Ofcom to regulate Amazon Prime Video

You’ve probably never heard of ATVOD. Neither have most people but don’t worry, they’re losing a big chunk of their mandate at the end of the year.

The Authority for Television on Demand (or ATVOD for short), were appointed by Ofcom in 2010 as a co-regulator to take the lead in regulating editorial content for video-on-demand services.

Following an Ofcom review “to ensure regulation of broadcast and on-demand content remains as effective and efficient as possible for the benefit of consumers, audiences and industry”, Ofcom has decided that acting as sole regulator for video-on-demand programmes is a more effective model for the future than having two separate bodies carrying out this work.

Ofcom’s Communication Market Report 2015 shows the proportion watching video-on-demand services among adults aged 15+ has increased from 27% in the first half of 2010, to 57% in the second half of 2014. The figures are higher among younger audiences – 70% for 15-24s (second half of 2014) and 71% among 25-34s (second half of 2014) – up from 35% for both demographics since 2010.

These video-on-demand services do of course include Amazon Prime Video, as well as Netflix and Rakuten’s Wuaki services. All will be regulated under the EU’s Audiovisual Media Services Directive which in the UK will be overseen by Ofcom .

Bad news for Jeremy Clarkson with his replacement show for Top Gear which will air on Amazon Prime in 2016, Ofcom were never his favourite people and now he’ll be regulated by them once again.

This is really just one more indicator that online video on demand services are becoming more mainstream. No one bothers too much about regulating the fringes of society, but as services become ingrained in our culture governments can’t help adding layers of red tape.

Will we one day see traditional broadcasters join the streaming media world? Many already have with catch up TV services, but as superfast broadband becomes the norm it’s just possible that one day TV transmitter masts may disappear from the landscape to be replaced by TVs with browsers and WiFi built in.

Many TVs sold today are already smart TVs as standard, so perhaps for once it’s not technology that’s holding broadcasters back so much as it requires a total change of their business models. Still at least Ofcom is here to make sure that the video-on-demand services have to abide by similar standards and an equitable share of the red tape to make sure it’s a world ready for our national broadcasters to join when they’re ready.