Russia’s new protectionist law could drive Apple TV+ out of the market if it becomes too big

Apple TV+, Apple’s new video-streaming service, could be shut out of Russia or face sever restrictions should it become too big, thanks to the country’s new protectionist legislation.

The Russian government recently said it will rush a new law designed to restrict operations of foreign video services in order to protect local competitors. Under the new law, any foreign video service that has amassed twenty percent of the market share for video-streaming services in Russia could face restrictions or even be driven out of the market completely.

The Hollywood Reporter has the story:

Prior to the launch of Apple TV+, the Russian government said it will prepare legislation restricting operations of foreign video services in a move to protect local companies from foreign competitors, specifically mentioning Apple. […] A law restricting foreign ownership in major video streaming services to 20 percent stakes was adopted two years ago, but it only applies to services whose number of subscribers is over 50 percent of all Russian video streaming users.

“If the government determines the services have hit the 50 percent threshold, their Russian operations could immediately become illegal,” reads the report. Apple doesn’t not break down the Apple TV+ viewership on a country-by-country basis. However, under the new Russian law the tech giant will be required to do so.

Elena Khlebnikova, content director at the online video service tvzavr, says they currently don’t see Apple TV+ as a competitor due to different content policies and audiences.

“As we know, the service doesn’t offer content dubbed into Russian, which probably means that they don’t expect a substantial audience at the initial stage, as Russian viewers are mostly not used to subtitled content,” she explained in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter.

While Apple is specifically mentioned in the report, the new law applies to any foreign video service, including Netflix, HBO and more.

The report goes on to mention that “US media and tech giants are likely to face increased pressure in Russia in 2020” due to other protectionist measures, such as the law requiring all devices sold in Russia to have local software preinstalled beginning July 1.