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Series Mania 2024 - Series Mania Forum

Industry Report: Series

The European Audiovisual Observatory analyses key trends at the Series Mania Forum

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The abundance of European TV content, cinema, video and SVOD does not conceal a deceleration that remains difficult to interpret on the long term

The European Audiovisual Observatory analyses key trends at the Series Mania Forum
Gilles Fontaine, Lucía Recalde, Pandora Gagnon da Cunha Teles and Susanne Nikoltchev at the talk (© European Audiovisual Observatory)

On the occasion of a conference organised as part of the Series Mania Forum (read the article), the European Audiovisual Observatory has unveiled its instructive and very detailed Yearbook 2023/2024 - Key trends report on the Pan-European landscape that includes television, cinema, video, and video-on-demand services. A few elements were highlighted, such as the fact that the still impressive rise in the number of series produced (873 of which feature fewer than 13 episodes in 2022, against 775 the year before) comes with a shortening of their duration. This growing interest in shorter formats takes place in an environment marked by a decrease in series production last year in the United States, and it is difficult for now to know whether that is a result of the strikes of 2023 alone, or the sign of a potential reversal in the market that could spread to Europe. This is a question that arises also in the realm of cinema production, since the number of European films commissioned by streamers decreased last year (after continuous growth since 2017), going from 80 in 2022 to 69 in 2023.

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The production boom during these past few years saw the constitution of powerful groups in Europe (BBC Studios, Fremantle, Banijay, Mediawan/Leonine, etc.) who intend to profit from streamers’ appetite for European content in order to compensate for a stagnation in ad revenue. But is the intensity of this growth sustainable, in a context where broadcasters may have to limit their programming spending, and where streamers themselves are streamlining their investments because many of them are not yet profitable? After nearly ten years of euphoria, the question is on the table and the next few years will clarify the situation. 

However, beyond these worrying signs which may simply be temporary, the situation for European production is particularly solid, with an average of 23,000 series episodes appearing each year. In 2022, 55% of fiction titles were commissioned by public broadcasters, 32% by private broadcasters, and 12% by streamers. The latter broadcast 186 original European titles on their platforms in 2022 (against 137 the previous year), 62% of which by Netflix and 20% by Amazon. It is also worth signalling a geographic concentration of series purchased by streamers: 27 seasons (of fewer than 13 episodes) in Spain, 25 in the UK, 16 in France, 15 in Italy, 11 in Poland, 10 in Sweden, 7 in Germany. Among traditional broadcasters, the numbers for seasons of all durations were 146 in the UK, 108 in Germany, 70 in France, 46 in Sweden, 43 in Finland, 36 in Spain, 35 in Italy, 24 in Norway, and 23 in Poland. 

The picture is therefore rather paradoxical, because a significant financial boon (21 billion euros) fed all European content in 2022, 24% of which came from streamers. Traditional broadcasters, notably public services (particularly in Denmark, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands) also significantly increased their investment in production. But beyond (important) factors such as a somewhat limited reserve of European screenwriters and a stagnation in the number of series coproduced, the situation is marked most of all by the recent and public desire from certain American streamers to restrain their financial engagement in non national production. A real slowdown, or only a temporary stage? Only time will tell, but it remains safe to think that at the end of a period of exceptional growth, the saying “trees don't grow to the sky” maintains a certain relevance. 

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(Translated from French)

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