Appetite for reality, films wanes, study says

CANNES — While fiction programming is on the rise around the globe, the appetite for feature films is waning, according to audience and market research group Eurodata TV Worldwide.

The org’s analysis of 2004’s global TV viewing habits and trends, presented at Mip on Monday and based on data from 73 territories, shows a resurgence of scripted content vs. reality fare. Around the world, fiction accounted for 46% of top 10 programs, followed by entertainment, 36%, and news, 18%.

Within the fiction category, series dominated with 46% compared with movies, which made up only 25% of the pie.

In the U.S., the series finale of “Friends,” and the seasonal wraps of “CSI” and “ER” lead the pack, followed by reality skeins “Survivor: All-Stars,” “American Idol” and “The Apprentice.” It was a reversal from 2003, when “Joe Millionaire,” “American Idol” and “Survivor: Pearl Islands” beat the same scripted series.

U.S. features remain at the top of international TV charts. “Shrek” and “Titanic” stood out as the blockbusters with the biggest TV auds from Latin America to Eastern Europe.

Hollywood series, however, are low in the European rankings. Only “Friends” remains among the top programs in Italian-speaking Switzerland.

In Latin America, fiction accounts for 65% of top 10 programming, well above the world average. Telenovelas take the lion’s share, with a third of the best overall viewer numbers in the territory.

Top novelas that dazzled Latin American auds include Colombia’s “Pasion de Gavilanes,” Venezuela’s “Mi gorda bella” and Mexico’s “Mariana de la noche.”

International adaptations are on the rise: Colombian telenovela “Betty la fea” was turned into hit German skein “Verliebt in Berlin,” Spain’s “Aqui no hay quien viva” became France’s “Faites comme chez vous” and U.K. comedy “The Office” was adapted Stateside.

The entertainment genre, meanwhile, sustained a 15% drop in viewership last year and the number of new formats in the world’s top 10 is on the decline.

Of the 36% worldwide share held by entertainment, special event shows account for 13% while reality makes up 9%.

At the presentation, Michael Katz, VP of programming and production at AETN, said: “There’s no denying the resurgence in drama. But the fact of the matter is unscripted programming is firmly embedded in the worldwide lexicon, whether its reality, docu-soaps, voyeurtainment or real-life programming. And it’s influencing other genres.”

Katz added, however, that eating bugs, kicking rivals off islands and shagging under the surveillance of TV cameras was giving way to more aspirational formats such as personal makeover shows and addiction-beating skeins like A&E’s “Intervention.”

Looking at worldwide TV consumption, Eurodata’s report showed an increase in the average time viewers spend in front of the tube on all the continents except Asia, where the average daily time per person remained stable at three hours and seven minutes.

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