Series Mania 2023 – Series Mania Forum
Industry Report: Series
Critical issues and key trends in the European series landscape tackled at the Series Mania Forum
Peak investment? European co-productions at a low ebb? Value of IP? An enlightening debate at the Series Mania Forum on the trends revealed by the European Audiovisual Observatory
The publication by the European Audiovisual Observatory of its annual report Key Trends 2022/2023 in the Video-on-Demand and television industries and markets (downloadable here) fuelled a very interesting debate that opened the Series Mania Forum, the professional component of the Series Mania Festival.
Although investment in European audiovisual content has not stopped increasing (especially in series and apart from a pause in growth in 2020) since the arrival on the market of global SVOD platforms, the latter's investments have not replaced those of TV broadcasters. On the contrary, the latter, faced with new competition, have also accelerated their commitments to such an extent that they have financed 84% of all European original content in 2021, compared with 16% for streamers. It should also be noted that the growth in investment by global platforms in original European content has mainly benefited Spain (38% of all Spanish content funding) and to a lesser extent the UK, while Germany and France are still far behind in this respect. In total, 1328 titles and 14,858 hours of fiction TV were produced in Europe in 2021 with a trend towards shorter formats (3 to 13 episodes) which now account for around 60% of series produced in 2021. Germany dominates the European ranking of fiction producing countries both in terms of titles (followed by France and the UK) and hours (followed by Poland and Greece).
Have we reached a peak? According to Guillaume Pommier (who co-manages distribution at Federation Studios), "the period when money was flowing is over. There is a contraction in the market and streamers are more and more cautious in terms of spending. But channels are producing more and more and there are also new entrants like Paramount. However, broadcasters have to solve a complicated equation because on the one hand their advertising revenues are falling and on the other hand audiences are more and more demanding for premium content." Alexandra Lebret (General Director of the European Producers' Club) added: "There is now a lot of competition, and you have to differentiate yourself. But producers have to produce for less money and we see that investments are mainly directed towards local content. As for European co-productions, they work but they are at a sadly low level (and half of them are linguistic, like France/Belgium or Germany/Austria) because when there is a local broadcaster, it is very difficult to convince another country to commit itself on the basis of a minority co-production. New sources of funding should be found without an attached broadcaster, like the Eurimages initiative.”
"The Alliance (RAI, ZDF, France Télévisions) should do more and increase to 7-8 series (compared with five at present)," recommends Guillaume Pommier, who is counting above all in the immediate future on pre-sales as a growth relay for production, but also on taking advantage of IPs (which represent 28% of European production compared with 42% in the USA). "A very good example is the series The Bureau [+see also:
interview: Frédéric Lavigne
series profile], produced for Canal+ and for which the producer has very meticulously accompanied, in particular with the press, the distribution in all territories, and which is now going to be the subject of an American remake with George Clooney on board. Marketing is the key!” Alexandra Lebret added some nuance to this viewpoint: "the IP is an asset created by the producer, in which he has invested, including in co-development. The problem is when the IP escapes him for a second season, for a remake, etc. It's catastrophic because it's not the same as the one that was created. It is catastrophic because it is not in production that money is made and it is a neuralgic subject for the future of the industry and the independents because we are in the process of creating assets for the Americans, which we should not do. We really need to react on this point at the European level because IP is not an additional income, but an integral part of success.”
(Translated from French)
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