Frédéric Vaulpré, Eurodata TV Worldwide Vice-President says: “In a content industry that is constantly searching for “the magic formula” to turn local productions into big international hits, understanding new audience usage is critical for broadcasters. 4-screen data gives a clearer viewer understanding and adopting multi-screen strategies are proving to be decisive for content success.”
Avril Blondelot, Director of Content Insight at Eurodata TV Worldwide, continued: “As for new programming, whether it be entertainment, factual or fiction genres, there were three distinct “take-aways” from our analysis this year. Firstly the portrayal of a divided world in which people feel disoriented. Secondly the option for the “safe bet” that unifies people and thirdly the creation of unique and innovative experiences.”
The industry is on a permanent quest for content that can sustainably maintain the broadest audiences possible and increasingly TV professionals are looking overseas. But in the race to do this broadcasters are not cutting costs, as we have witnessed by the ever-growing creative programming budgets of the leading market players. Similarly imports are worth investigating as when local productions weren’t a success, then they were acquired directly from abroad or adapted. For example out of around 9,000 new and recurring programmes aired in 2017 in the 48 countries tracked by Eurodata’sNoTa service, nearly half (46 per cent) were foreign concepts with a majority being “ready-made”. The television game show The Wall is a perfect example of this. In just two months after the original US version was launched, the French adaptation appeared on TF1 and in less than one year, 10 major countries had adopted the concept.
Whether you create a hit success or buy the rights to one, being its exclusive broadcaster in a country is key, as we see by the success that Game of Thrones and The Crown brought to their respective broadcasters.
Adopted to a greater or lesser extent depending on the country, time-shifted / catch-up viewing continues to attract more viewers. In the UK and the US, time-shifted / catch-up viewing on TV represented respectively 12 per cent and 14 per cent of individual viewing time (IVT) in 2017. In France time-shifted / catch-up usage is on the increase, offering huge potential for growth as it currently represents just 5 per cent of IVT. This usage now extends to all generations and television now has younger audience thanks to it. In France, the Netherlands, the US and the UK “seniors” on average only make up 23 per cent of the time-shifted / catch-up audience, however they account for over 31 per cent of live viewers.
Viewing via internet on computers, smartphones and tablets is now completely established in western countries, particularly amongst young people.
These new ways of watching TV benefit certain content especially: foreign fiction, reality TV programmes and more surprisingly, documentaries. For example in the Netherlands, thanks to the time-shifted viewing and internet screens, programs such as Homeland and Temptation Island have doubled their audience figures. In Sweden, Helikopterranet, a documentary about a helicopter robbery, increased viewing by 93 per cent.
Television holds up a mirror to the world around us. This world is often depicted in its plurality, torn by multiple divisions. For example Lobbyistin – where viewers follow the life of a young female politician who changes sides to become a lobbyist – portrays the balance of power between lobbyists and politicians. The series enabled German channel ZDFneo to increase its audience of 14-29 year olds almost threefold. In this complex world where is it easy to lose one’s bearings and the truth can be hard to find, the British show Liar significantly increased ITV’s audience share among 16-34 year olds.
To counteract this loss of bearings, several TV hits have proposed unity and gathering people or the nation, in a cultural sense, around shared safe values. For example, Meidän Maamme, a Finnish documentary on culture and nature in Finland, enabled Yle TV1 to attract over 89 per cent of 15-34 year old viewers. Submerging ourselves in nostalgia unite viewers around happy memories. The Lego Masters, which as its name suggests is a showcase for the famous toys created in 1932 is a competition format that won over Channel 4 viewers. And finally the first bulwark against losing one’s bearings is family and close friends and a safe bet for television. Lo Mejor De La Familia, described as “Argentina’s Got Talent for the whole family”, was a very good illustration of this point.
The last trend detected is the quest for experiences, be they personal or collective. Some programmes have received new impetus with the increasing depiction of seniors on screen. In the Netherlands for example a “senior” version of The Voice is in the pipeline. Other programmes are taking a fresh look at little-known but emerging roles, such as DragonSlayer666, a Finnish series featuring an eSports player and The Amazing Magicians in China, whose premiere helped the Jiangsu Sat channel triple its audience ratings among 15-34 year olds. Lastly, science and technology are flourishing themes that excite TV viewers. In Denmark Koden Til Kærlighed (“The Code for Love”) based on an algorithm that determines which couples are scientifically compatible, is a refreshing take on the dating show.
John Peek, Director of Tape Consultancy concluded: “For audiences, the ever increasing volume of content on offer is creating its own form of complexity: choice! It is perhaps not surprising therefore that the patterns emerging in terms of success, tend to reflect content which resonates directly with viewers on an individual, emotional level: which could be powerful, topical stories, the comfort of a familiar idea with a hint of nostalgia, or a simple need to escape and be entertained. Yet as this emerging world of individual choice continues to expand, along with the opportunities to view wherever, and whenever you wish, one clear message resonating from 2017 is that the desire for shared, family and communal viewing experiences remains as strong ever.”