Advanced Television

Study: Scripted TV boosts primetime viewing

January 6, 2020

According to the 2019 edition of the Scripted Series Report, published by Glance analysing the consumption of TV series on over 100 channels in 12 countries, the success of the genre is confirmed worldwide, always reinventing itself in terms of creation, genres and topics covered.

“The series is a format that remains strategic in programming as in 2019, almost 60 per cent of the channels studied have seen their audiences boosted by a primetime series. Although national crime dramas remain unbeatable in the hearts of viewers, we observe more co-productions among the top 15 series of countries and the recurring appearance of new themes such as feminist historical series”, said Candice Alessandra, International Research Manager at Glance.

Locally produced series still top the preferences of channels and viewers in 2019. All countries combined, over 2/3 of the prime-time series broadcast on the main channels are national creations. They are especially popular with the public and account for 3/4 of the consumption of fiction series. This is especially true for the US, Turkey, Israel and Russia, which give 90 per cent priority to national content in their broadcasts, while Sweden, Denmark and Italy mainly import series.

Although the supremacy of local content remains indisputable, the trend is stabilising. Indeed, their leadership at the top of the national ratings for the best prime-time series is now being challenged by the greater presence of imported programmes (21 compared to 17 last season) and co-productions (18 compared to 12 previously). Some channels also schedule more co-productions this season. This is the case for Arte in France (x1.7 compared to 2017), TV4 in Sweden (x5) and HBO in the US, which broadcast 5 co-produced series compared to none last year. European players are joining forces with each other or with American players to face the competition. Notable co-production successes include: My Brilliant Friend (Italy/United States), The Name of the Rose (Italy, Germany, France) and The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair (United States/France/Italy).

By totalling almost 75 per cent of the series scheduled and viewed during prime-time, drama has again imposed itself as the undisputed leader of the fictional genres in most of the countries studied. Only Israel prefers comedies.

Two genres are proving most popular. Crime series alone account for 41 per cent of the prime-time series offer (up three points vs. 2017-18) and human drama series (including medical series) come second with 19 per cent of the offer.

Although the vast majority of crime and human drama series watched are produced locally (81 per cent and 92 per cent respectively), three American medical series have travelled particularly well beyond their borders. The Good Doctor alone accounts for almost 1/3 of the consumption of imported human drama series*, followed by Grey’s Anatomy and the recent New Amsterdam.

Other dramas are successful both at home and around the world. This is the case of three new programmes that directly rank among the best in prime-time: the American Manifest, the Swedish A wedding, a funeral and a christening and the British Manhunt.

One sign of the times is that new historical series favouring a feminist approach to the past have appeared this year in the national charts of 8 of the 12 countries studied. This is particularly the case for the German fiction series Aenne Burda, which is about the life of an editor who launched her own fashion magazine in the 1950s, as well as Sisters 1968 in Sweden, which follows the lives of three friends in the late 1960s who decide to bring a bit of emancipation to their small, conservative Swedish community.

In terms of consumption, in France as in the UK, the online viewing of series (on tablet, smartphone and computer) boosts different titles from those present in the national top 15 charts. But genre disparities still exist: although French people mainly watch dramatic productions, like for example the series Clem broadcast by TF1, across the Channel comedies are more popular online, such as White Gold or Fleabag.

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