The European Audiovisual Observatory publishes a new edition of its report on European television production

– The study, published during this year’s MIPTV, reveals that 600 fewer hours of European television fiction were produced in 2020, while highly produced series continued to increase

This article is available in English.

On April 5, the European Audiovisual Observatory (EAO) published a new report entitled “The production of audiovisual fiction in figures for Europe 2020” and prepared by Gilles Fontaine. In detail, the study analyzes “the volume, formats, origin, curators and producers of European original films and television series released on TV and SVOD between 2015 and 2020”.

The document highlights that the impact of COVID-19 may not be fully reflected, as series released in 2020 may have been produced earlier. However, the figures show a drop in the volume of European television fiction production (“more than 600 hours or -4%”), attributable to “the interruption of the shooting of soap operas/soaps in certain countries”. Meanwhile, the growth of short series (including two or three episodes) continued but slowed down to 5% in 2020 compared to the +11% average increase recorded between 2015 and 2020.

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The study also argues that the pandemic “did not affect some of the fundamental characteristics of television production in Europe”. Specifically, telenovelas and telenovelas accounted for 60% of the hours produced and more than half of all titles produced are series with 2 to 13 episodes per season. Additionally, the study notes that “the average number of episodes per season and the average length of episodes is slowly declining, likely as a way to cope with rising budgets.”

The document also delves into regional differences. Thanks to the large volumes of telenovelas and telenovelas, Greece and Spain lead European television fiction in terms of hours produced, while Hungary and Portugal “are two other examples of countries driven by series of more than 52 episodes per season.” Germany is the country that produces “the largest number of different titles, in particular with more emphasis than the average country on TV movies”, and the UK is the leader in producing shorter seasons comprising two or three episodes.

After a peak recorded in 2018, the study reveals that there were fewer international co-productions in 2019 and 2020. More generally, “international co-productions represent 10% of all fiction titles and are mainly limited to television movies and 2 – to the 3-episode seasonal series”. There used to be a tendency to co-produce between neighboring countries that share the same language (for example, Belgium and France or Germany and Austria), but “non-language co-productions increased in 2020 and they represented close to 65% of all co-productions.-productions.” This rise is being driven by the UK (often as a majority co-producer, co-producing with the US, Canada and France), Germany (usually as a minority co-producer with Scandinavia), and the Scandinavian countries (collaborating with each other).

The report finds that the BBC, Netflix and ARD are the top three commissioners of 2-3 episode series. In addition, in 2020 public broadcasters accounted for 57% of all fiction titles ordered and private broadcasters for 61% of the hours. Pubcasters tended to focus more on TV movies and short series, while commercial broadcasters focused on soap operas and soap operas. Meanwhile, “global streamers launched 71 original European series in 2020, up from 49 in 2019, with close to 70% commissioned by Netflix”, with US-based groups “contributing to European fiction production through of its subsidiaries in Europe.

The latest key finding shows a large turnover across the industry. In terms of production teams and groups, for example, almost 1,200 of them produced “at least one fiction title between 2015 and 2020, but only 7% of them produced at least one title in each of the last six years” .

In terms of manpower, 42% of directors were active in just one year between 2015 and 2020, and only 8% of them were credited for at least one episode during each of the six years. Furthermore, 48% of the writers were active in just one year, and only 7% of them were credited for at least one episode during each of the six years.

Finally, both writers and directors tend to specialize by format: only 19% of writers and 24% of directors were credited for at least one episode of two or more projects from different formats.

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