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.