Euro TV fiction production drops by 600 hours in 2020 | Average Analysis | Business | News

A study from the European Audiovisual Observatory has revealed the extent to which Covid affected TV production in the Europe during 2020, showing while the pandemic impacted on the creation and release of original TV fiction, it did not affect some of the fundamental characteristics of TV production .
The report analyzed the volume, formats, origin, commissioners and producers of original European TV films and TV series released on TV and SVOD between 2015 and 2020. The underlying data used for the Audiovisual fiction production in Europe – 2020 were provided by the European Metadata Group systematically reviewing the programming schedules of over 200 TV channels and on-demand services to identify original European fiction. The selected services were the respective TV and SVOD audience leaders in the tracked territories, namely the 27 EU countries as well as the UK, Norway and Switzerland.

Given that the Observatory figures were based on the date of release of original fiction series, the impact of Covid-19 was not fully reflected as series released in 2020 may have been produced earlier. Yet the study did show a drop in the volume of hours produced, over 600 hours, a fall of 4%, which said the Observatory could be mainly attributed to the interruption of the shooting of telenovelas/soaps in certain countries. In addition, the uninterrupted growth of short series – with to 2 to 3 episodes – continued but slowed down. This is a growth of 5% in 2020 compared with 11% on average between 2015 and 2020.

However, the good news was that Covid-19 did not affect some of the fundamental characteristics of TV production in Europe. Telenovelas/soaps accounted for the bulk (60%) of hours produced while more than half of all titles produced were 2- to 13-episode-season series. The average number of episodes per season and the average duration of episodes was found to be slowly decreasing, probably as a way to cope with the increase in budget, suggested the Observatory. The production of TV films also appeared to be following a downward trend and the research hinted at a substitution of the production of TV films by TV series.

With large volumes of telenovelas/soaps produced each year, Greece and Spain were the leaders in volume of hours produced. Hungary and Portugal are two other examples of countries driven by more than 52-episode-per-season series. Germany produced the highest number of different titles, in particular with more focus than the average country on TV films. When focusing on shorter seasons (2 to 3 episodes), the UK is by far the main producer, ahead of Germany and France. Figures suggested a production boom for such TV series in Scandinavia and Spain.

Just under half (48%) of screenwriters and 42% of directors were active in only one year between 2015 and 2020. Therefore, on average, a writer wrote, and a director directed only about two episodes per year, excluding seasons with more- than-52-episodes.

International co-productions accounted for 10% of all fiction titles and are mostly limited to TV films and to 2- to 3-episode-season series. While the majority of international co-productions used to be between two neighboring countries sharing the same language – eg France and Belgium; Germany and Austria – non-linguistic co-productions increased in 2020 and represented close to 65% of all co-productions.

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