Artear-El Trece this year has overtaken former perennial frontrunner Telefe even as its main rival finds success with a miniseries directed by an Oscar-winning filmmaker.
Artear launched the drive for first in 2006 by signing Marcelo Tinelli and his variety program “ShowMatch,” a popular draw since its 1989 debut on Telefe and now a weeknight dance contest.
“There’s a lot of attraction on ‘ShowMatch’ this year: nudity, famous participants and a squabbling jury,” says Mariano Colly, editor-in-chief of entertainment zine Primiciasya.com
Artear also is faring well with weekly political drama “El Puntero,” secret-agent comedy “Los Unicos” and winery-set telenovela “Herederos de una venganza,” all produced by Pol-ka, which is run by the net’s chief programmer Adrian Suar.
Telefe is fighting back with “El hombre de vida” (The Man of Your Dreams), written and directed by Juan Jose Campanella of Oscar-winner “The Secret in Their Eyes.” The tale of a single father who lands a job as a matchmaker is the hottest Sunday draw.
“This is not a year of big novelties, but production is steady,” says Hugo Di Guglielmo, a media consultant.
He said producers are betting on fiction for tape and format export potential, while local entertainments lag as studios resort to foreign formats like “Minute to Win It” on Telefe.
This year could mark the rise of state-backed fiction, a government initiative. If the series play well, Di Guglielmo said this could widen a production industry now concentrated in a few players like Ideas del Sur and Pol-ka.
Strengths: Brisk output of series scoring high ratings.
Weaknesses: Top indie producers with network output deals are crowding out smaller producers.
Showcase show: “ShowMatch”
– Charles Newbery
While it’s local programming that has been doing well Down Under, there are also a host of new digital channels that are hungry for content.
All three free webs — Seven, Nine and Ten — have two additional channels, ranging from youth-skewed webs to sports.
Seven Network’s Angus Ross might be with the winning web in terms of ratings, but he faces challenges similar to the other networks. He says he will be shopping for the right targeted content across all his channels.
“I think there’s a lot more product at the market that perhaps in the past for the main channel wouldn’t have piqued our interest, but it does now with our very targeted digital channels,” he says. “I can go to Mipcom for (male-skewed channel) Seven Mate looking at stuff for men 18-49 that in the past I might have thought too narrow for the main channel. I come in and sweep it up.”
Local dramas like Nine’s “Underbelly: Razor” and Seven’s “Wild Boys” have pulled is some boffo auds, but there are always gaps on the main channels too.
“There’s a lot from independent product that is useful for picking up for the main channel as well,” says Ross, citing “Mighty Ships” and ATN’s “World’s Most Extreme Airports” as hits this year.
Strengths: New digital channels have produced an overall 14% rise in auds this year.
Weaknesses: A continuing soft ad market.
Showcase show: Still “MasterChef Australia.”
– By Paul Chai
In the most important development in the local pay-TV industry in years, the Brazilian Senate passed in August a new regulatory landmark fully opening the sector to international players, including telcos, and creating quotas for local shows and nets.
The Brazilian cinema (Ancine) and telco (Anatel) agencies are currently drafting the new regulation’s complementary rules, which will be implemented gradually.
The new regulation is expected to further streamline the local pay-TV sector, whose total subs base is already growing fast, at an annual average of 19% for the past five years. Deep-pocketed telcos with Brazilian-based branches, such as Telefonica from Spain, Telmex from Mexico and local Oi, are expected to massively increase the offer of triple-play services (television, telephony and broadband access).
The new rules establish that every pay-TV net must have 3 1/2 hours of Brazilian content per week during primetime (6 p.m. to 10 p.m.), and every pay-TV package must have one-third Brazilian nets. Traditionally relegated to a secondary role, because local broadcasters make the bulk of their programming in-house, local indie producers are celebrating.
In the meantime, the prosperous local free-to-air TV sector is enjoy another good year, as the Brazilian economy has so far not been hit by the world recession. On top of an outstanding 2010, the TV sector’s total ad spending grew 5.2% to 6.7 billion reais (US$4.2 billion) in the initial five months of this year, in relation to the same period last year.
TV Globo continues to pocket the bulk of the spending, as it has managed to hold onto its 40-year-long aud leadership. But competition is expected to heat up as No. 2 net TV Record holds the exclusive rights for the Pan American Games in Guadalajara, Mexico (Oct. 14-30) and the 2012 London Summer Olympics.
Strengths: An increasingly larger and wealthier middle class with consumption power, which is boosting ad spending and pay-TV subscription sales.
Weaknesses: VOD is finally arriving in Brazil with the deployment of players, such as Netflix. Will it impact established nets?
Showcase show: “Fina Estampa.” TV Globo’s primetime telenovela continues to be the program with the highest ratings in Brazil
— Marcelo Cajueiro
The fall TV season in Canada launched with a new look — at least behind the scenes.
It’s the first season to kick off since Bell Canada completed the takeover of leading network CTV, the final act in a major makeover of the Canuck TV landscape over the past couple of years.
For the first time this season, all three main nets are controlled by top distributors.
Bell owns the country’s biggest telecom company and also operates a leading satellite distributor, Bell TV. Shaw Communications, one of the country’s largest cable operators, took over CanWest Global last year, thereby assuming control of the rival Global NetworkThe third player is Rogers Media, Canada’s No. 1 cable operator and a top telecom company, which owns the five Citytv stations.
Now all three networks are run by well-financed, vertically integrated conglomerates and are well-positioned to grow their nets and take that content on to other platforms, notably mobile and Web platforms.
As for what’s onscreen, the top 20 in Canada continues to be handily dominated by American network series, though there are a number of homegrown hits, including “Combat Hospital” and “Rookie Blue” on Global, “Flashpoint” on CTV and “Hockey Night in Canada” and “Dragon’s Den” on pubcaster CBC (the only net to air almost 100% Canadian-made fare).
In French Canada, the top 20 remains almost entirely homegrown, as Franco-Canadians turn their back on Hollywood and celebrate locally produced drama, comedy and reality fare.
Strengths: Owners of main networks financially sound and vertically integrated, and growing number of international co-productions.
Weaknesses: Networks have to compete head-to-head with U.S. networks that are all available in Canada, while many top Canadian actors migrate to Hollywood.
Showcase show: “Combat Hospital”
– By Brendan Kelly
China will be strongly represented with drama series and documentaries at this year’s Mipcom, and some local regional players are also dipping their toes in the water to see if they can push their local animation business.
Qiao, deputy head of overseas distribution at China Intl. Television Corp., says CITC has around 10 TV drama series and between 10 and 15 documentaries going to Mipcom.
“In total, it will be over a thousand hours, and they are all new productions from 2011,” Wang says. “Some of the works have not been released in the domestic market. We got very good feedback after the last time, and they went down well with overseas buyers, so we’re optimistic — but we don’t know yet because the European economy has experienced a bitter period. We will see.”
One local China player that is going to Mipcom is the local government from Jiangsu province. Zheng Xiaohong, head of Jiangsu province’s trade office, says the focus was animation.
“We want to promote Jiangsu’s animation industry and its international competitiveness in the international market,” says Zheng. “This will bring more opportunity to local animation companies to extend to the European market and be known around the world.”
So far, about 15 companies have registered from Jiangsu, with the animation studio, production companies and other related technical companies.
Strengths: Cheap production facilities, strong local network.
Weaknesses: Thorny regulatory environment, shows often too “domestic” for overseas audience.
Showcase show: “Chinese New Year Gala.” Always the most popular show in China, if not the world.
– Clifford Coonan
Czech television auds are still clamoring for reality skeins, while demanding more locally created content than ever.
The six-year history of “Rose Garden Medical,” launched simultaneously with another TV Nova hit, “The Street,” marks out a solid preference among viewers for familiar characters and storylines with adored local thesps.
These helped pull net revenues up 2% in the first six months of 2011, according to investor reports from TV Nova owner Central European Media Enterprises (CME), to $142.2 million.
While CME sees the future in creating, owning and reusing content, digiization presents different challenges. As recently appointed TV Nova program director Alex Ruzek points out, in 2006 it was only technically possible to broadcast four television channels. Today, it’s fragmented, with 11 channels broadcasting free-to-air digitally.
“The new startups have not been very successful here so far,” she says, “because the market is too small, and it is difficult to attract advertisers’ attention if you only have a small percentage of the audience share.”
Nova, meanwhile, continues to eclipse the other major players, Prima and pubcaster Czech TV, with such fare as Prague-shot soaper “Rose Garden Medical 2,” which tops the charts with a 49.4 share, drawing in some 2 million viewers every Tuesday and Thursday in primetime. Not bad for a nation of 10.2 million.
Nova also has gold in its No. 2 serial “Comeback,” about two brothers’ struggle to keep a rock ‘n ‘roll record store afloat, with a 36.8 aud share.
Strengths: Local production means more control and returns.
Weaknesses: Plethora of digital stations perplex advertisers.
Showcase show: “Rose Garden Medical 2”
– Will Tizard
Once an even playing field for independent companies, the French DTT market is now consolidating at a rapid pace in anticipation of the arrival of digital operators such as Netflix and Apple.
Vivendi-owned pay TV giant Canal Plus Group has just announced the acquisition of 60% of Bollore Media’s two free-to-air DTT channels, Direct 8 and Direct Star. If approved by the French antitrust authorities, the move will allow Canal Plus’ original programming to reach broader audiences.
More importantly, it will give the paybox access to ads broadcast on free-to-air channels owned by commercial nets TF1 and M6.
Canal Plus already ranks as Gaul’s leading pay TV provider with a robust slate of higher-bracket English-language skeins, such as Tom Fontana’s “Borgia,” and innovative Gallic drama, notably Olivier Marchal’s “Braquo.” Following Canal Plus’ steps, TF1 has recently inked a pact with EuropaCorp Televisions to commission high-profile, mainstream English-language series.
The Gallic TV production landscape has also contracted with the emergence of deep-pocketed players, such as Lagardere Entertainment’s Atlantique Prods and Luc Besson’s EuropaCorp TV. Another French minimajor, Gaumont, has just launched Gaumont Intl. Television, an L.A.-based independent production and distribution outfit led by two U.S. TV vets, Katie O’Connell and Richard Frankie.
Meanwhile, “the progression of digital services that offer attractive ad rates may damage France’s mature ad market — particularly the terrestrial broadcasters, such as TF1 and M6,” says Francois Godard of Enders Analysis.
Strengths: Gaul’s TV channels have to invest a percentage of their advertising revenues in French and European productions.
Weaknesses: Out of Europe’s big five, Gaul remains the only territory where U.S. skeins get higher ratings than local fare.
Showcase show: “Clem,” TF1’s miniseries about a teen mom.
– Elsa Keslassy
Germany’s television market has long been characterized by duopoly, with leading pubcasters ARD and ZDF on the one side and commercial webs RTL, Sat.1 and ProSieben on the other.
When it comes to hit series, both pubcasters and commercial webs have chart-topping shows favored by very different demographics.
Pubcasters ARD and ZDF, which generally attract older auds, dominate overall in terms of numbers. ARD boasts the three most-watched series: the long-running weekly crime-drama skein “Tatort,” which regularly reaches more than 8 million total viewers on average; “Um himmels willen,” about a feisty nun who does what she can to protect her small-town abbey from the mayor’s urban development plans; and medical drama “In aller freundschaft,” which revolves around the staff of a Leipzig hospital.
With their focus on the key 14-49 demo, commercial webs RTL, Sat.1 and ProSieben offer a mix of locally produced and hit U.S. licensed series. RTL tops the charts among target auds with its hit Autobahn cop actioner “Alarm for Cobra 11” and U.S. shows “CSI: Miami,” “Bones” and “House.”
More recently, RTL has enjoyed excellent ratings with “Royal Pains” and is banking on similar success with the premiere of another USA Network hit, “White Collar,” in September. The web is scheduling the Matt Bomer series on Tuesdays following “CSI: Miami” (in its ninth season here) and “House” (in its seventh season), both of which have seen ratings decline in recent years.
Rival Sat.1 is attracting viewers with its locally produced hit cop show “Der letzte bulle” as well as Hollywood skeins like “NCIS” and “The Mentalist,” which air back-to-back on Sunday night.
“Criminal Minds” and the recently premiered “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior,” likewise airing Sundays, have also drawn strong auds. Unfortunately for Sat.1, CBS cancelled the latter show after only one season.
Strengths: Germany’s deep-pocketed pubcasters continue to score with a majority of viewers with hit dramas and crime shows, while commercial webs RTL and Sat.1 are attracting bigger auds with a strong mix of homegrown and licensed content.
Weaknesses: Pubcasters ARD and ZDF may lead in the ratings, but they are still struggling to attract younger viewers. With the average age of their viewers at about 60, the pubcasters are in danger of losing their relevance to the next generation.
Showcase show: ARD’s “Tatort” has been dazzling auds since its premiere in 1970. It has not only managed to evolve and remain relevant with ever timely storylines, it has also gained cult status across generations: The Sunday-night mainstay is just as likely to attract loyal follow
ers at a retirement home in rural Bavaria as it is in a trendy bar in Berlin.
– Ed Meza
Growth is the mantra in the Indian TV industry, which is expanding at an annual rate of 14.5% and will reach a market size of $13.4 billion in 2015 from its current size of $6.8 billion, according to a PricewaterhouseCoopers report.
The hectic growth has included 42 channel launches, including the CBS-Reliance team’s Big-CBS channels; a raft of Fox, Discovery and National Geographic channels; and food networks Food Food (from the Astro Group) and Khana Khazana (Zee).
The biggest success has been that of the Times Media Group’s English-language HD movie channel Movies Now. Though featuring older films compared with its well-entrenched rivals HBO, Star Movies and Sony’s Pix, Movies Now was packaged attractively and promoted aggressively, catching the imagination of Indian viewers enough to take it to pole position within weeks of its launch. Approximately 250 more channels are expected next year.
This year also saw the number of pay TV viewers crack the 100 million mark and the overall number of television households rise to 130 million. As in past years, Indian-language general
ntertainment channels took the lion’s share of viewership, rivaled only by cricket broadcasts that saw a sharp spike thanks to the World Cup being staged in and won by India this year.
Strengths: Inward investment leading to double digit-growth; rapid digitization.
Weaknesses: Penetration a low 61% compared to 95% in the U.S. and U.K.’s 93%
Showcase show: “Saathiya Saath Nibhana” (Star Plus)
– By Naman Ramachandran
While local skeins continue to command the best ratings in Italy, expect to see more imports, especially from Hollywood, as the country’s two main terestrial broadcasters, RAI and Mediaset, both slash production budgets due to the economic crisis.
The country’s top-rated show is anti-Mafia crimer “Squadra antimafia — Palermo oggi,” which pulls more than a 20 average share on Mediaset’s Canale 5. But “Antimafia” and other high-profile homegrown shows cost more per episode than Italo rights to, say, “CSI,” which airs to lesser ratings on Mediaset, or “NCIS,” which runs on RAI.
So Italy’s strength, the superior pull of its homegrown shows, is also its current weakness. To make matters worse, the government has not extended to TV production its recent generous incentives for film.
As for the Italo TV landscape, competition in the pay TV field between Rupert Murdoch’s Sky Italia satcaster and Mediaset’s Mediaset Premium digital paybox is fiercer than ever. This should mean more good news for U.S. sellers. Yank shows such as “Glee” have been going strong on Sky’s Fox Intl. Channels, while Mediaset Premium has been scoring with “United States of Tara,” among others.
In the Italo terrestrial market, smaller player La7, owned by Telecom Italia, has doubled its audience share this year to roughly 4%. But the uptick is mostly due to its revamped news operation.
Weaknesses: Broadcasters are slashing budgets. Terrestrial playing field still dominated by RAI/Mediaset duopoly.
Showcase show: “Squadra Antimafia – Palermo Oggi.”
– Nick Vivarelli
The Japanese TV biz is struggling with a slow meltdown as its core young aud spends more time with game consoles and smartphones, and less time with the tube.
According to data compiled by pubcaster NHK, teen males were watching TV an average of three hours and 34 minutes daily in 1995, but by 2010 this figure slipped to 90 minutes. In the same period, the number of Japanese who don’t watch TV at all rose from 8% to 11%.
Even shows once considered invincible have been falling in the ratings — or fading out altogether. NHK’s “Red-and-White Song Contest,” a New Year’s staple for decades, recorded ratings of 35.7 for its first part and 37.1 for its second. In the 1990s, this show regularly scored over 50.
Also, following the March 11 earthquake, tsunami and reactor breakdowns, advertisers exited the airwaves en masse for weeks, following the local custom of “jishuku” (self-restraint) in the wake of a national disaster. They have since returned, but stations across the country took multimillion-dollar hits to their bottom lines.
Japan’s five commercial networks and pubcaster NHK have tried various strategies to stanch the bleeding, from cutting costs to investing more coin in pic production and Internet services. The latter ploy has paid off handsomely for such leading players as Fuji TV, TBS and NTV, whose pics have dominated the domestic side of the box office for the past decade.
But the networks’ best days at the B.O. may be ending. This summer, none of their live-action titles topped the $25 million mark. In summer 2010, five passed this milestone.
The networks are also looking at stiffer competition from the satellite sector. By March, the number of broadcast satellite channels — using frequencies freed by the end of analog broadcasts last July — will grow from the present 12 to 31. The new services will be operated by such local satellite biz powerhouses as Wowow, Star Channel and Sky Perfect Entertainment, as well as Fox and Disney.
Strengths: Despite its various woes, the TV biz still sits atop Japan’s entertainment world food chain, with ad revenues totaling $22.5 billion in 2010.
Weaknesses: The networks are overly reliant on a few major talents for boosting the ratings of their primetime shows. This became glaringly apparent when gang ties forced comedian Shinsuke Shimada to quit show business Aug. 26, leaving his six regular network shows without a host and scrambling desperately for replacements.
Showcase show: The biggest hit on Japanese TV is “Ohisama,” a heartwarming drama on pubcaster NHK that follows its plucky heroine (Mao Inoue) from girlhood to adulthood in the tumultuous 1930s and 1940s. The Aug. 28 episode drew a 20.8 rating, the highest of any regularly skedded show.
– Mark Schilling
As with its economy at large, Spain’s TV market faces an uncertain future.
Overall, TV advertising plunged 8% in the first half of the year, and industry consolidation continues.
After Mediaset Espana acquired channel Cuatro from Prisa in late 2009, DeAPlaneta’s Antena 3 and the Imagina/Televisa-owned LaSexta have resumed merger conversations.
Sexta CEO Jose Miguel Contreras says a merger “today is necessary — in a year, if we wait, it will be essential.”
Audience fragmentation is also ongoing. In August, Telecinco led Spanish free-to-air TV for the third month in a row with a 14.3 aud share — the lowest ever for a top-rated broadcaster. Meanwhile several dedicated DTT channels — Antena 3’s Neox (3.3), Mediaset Espana’s FDF (3) and LaSexta3 (1.9) — scored their highest aud shares ever.
Other free-to-air TV services continue to suffer. Newscaster CNN Plus, a long-term Prisa-Turner joint venture, closed in December.
Publishing group Unidad Editorial, owner of Veo TV, inked with Discovery Networks Intl. to launch a factual entertainment free-to-air TV channel, replacing Veo.
Local TV fiction still rocks at times: Globomedia-produced swashbuckler “Red Eagle” has averaged a successful 26.7 share since it returned in September. Antena 3 skein “The Boat” nabbed 19.8, the best perf for a rookie TV series.
And TV gameshows are making a strong comeback.
“They attract wide-ranging audiences and are cost-effective programming,” says TV expert Eduardo Garcia Matilla.
Strengths: TV market better than national economy; pay TV’s entry into scripted production.
Weaknesses: Ad investment plunge.
Showcase show: “The Boat”
– Emiliano de Pablos
These are tough times for the BBC, which is finalizing cuts of up to 25% following last fall’s license-fee freeze.
In such exacting economic circumstances, a commercial web would almost certainly reduce its spend on homegrown fare and beef up the acquisitions budget. That option is not open to the world’s best-known pubcaster.
The BBC needs to constantly broadcast high-end domestically produced shows across all genres in order to satisfy its license-fee payers and keep pols on its side. But, paradoxically, the Corp continues to blaze a trail in the market for imported shows.
This year, the crime saga made by Danish pubcaster DR, “The Killing,” aired by BBC4 in the U.K., made history by becoming the critics’ favorite import to air on any British channel.
The show’s second season will bow on BBC4 this month, and it is understood the Corp has tied up series three.
“My role is to find the next big thing,” says the BBC’s soft-spoken head of program acquisitions Sue Deeks, “rather than to acquire shows that are already hits.”
Cynics might suggest that given the state of the Corp’s coffers, Deeks has little choice other than to seek out high-quality shows that the BBC can then nurture, not least by cross-promoting them across its various networks and platforms, rather than buying proven successes. One disadvantage of this strategy is the ever-present risk that rival webs, especially those who fork out more coin on acquisitions, end up taking some of these shows away from the Beeb just as their popularity peaks.
Such was the case with “Mad Men” and “Nurse Jackie” — BSkyB paid top dollar for both skeins.
“Of course it’s disappointing to lose a show like “Mad Men,” but we had ‘The Killing’ to replace it,” says Deeks.
Recently, she snapped up exclusive U.K. rights to “The Slap,” the Antipodian drama of modern mores based on the international best selling novel.
It remains to be seen if “The Slap” can repeat the success of “The Killing,” but given Deeks’ track record, the fates might be on her side.
As the U.K. TV market evolves, with Channel 5 apparently back in profit and ITV regaining confidence by the week, Mipcom sellers should be aware of the BBC’s appetite for shows that punch above their weight and which more often than not hail from outside the main U.S. studios.
Strengths: Creative dynamism in both scripted and non-scripted.
Weaknesses: Short runs of shows.
Showcase show: “Downton Abbey”
– Steve Clark
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