Nordics say ‘come on, get happy’

Scandinavia

STOCKHOLM — Major sports events and news aside, locally produced series and entertainment formats still lead overall in the Scandi territories. Program directors are all talking about the demise of cynical reality shows like “Big Brother” in favor of more humanistic or optimistic programming.

“We’ve left the reality genre behind us,” says outgoing Swedish Kanal 5 program director Johan Westman (who will be replaced by Lars Beckung).

Westman sees a trend toward the “real people in real places” material found in straightforward documentary series, such as filmmakers following staff at a hospital.

Indeed, there’s an onslaught of series in Sweden with names like “The Hospital” (TV3), “Farmer Seeking Wife” (TV4) and “Fighter Pilots” (Kanal 5).

Drama series are also thriving, though not necessarily in the traditional hour-a-week dosage U.S. viewers would be familiar with. In Sweden, SVT’s program director Annie Wegelius is introducing big venture “Andra avenyn” (Second Avenue) with half-hour episodes three days a week. The series is said to have a modern, young appeal.

In Finland, drama series “Tahdon asia” (A Question of Will) has shined at YLE, while Danish series “Forbrydelsen” is a huge success at DR and working well for Norwegian NRK. The show also will air at Icelandic RUV.

“The drama series are our most expensive content,” DR media director Lars Grarup says, “but it is worth all the money when it comes to branding and image.”

Most watched among American series have been “CSI,” “The Sopranos,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “House.” The first episode of “Heroes” debuted in Sweden recently, along with “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.”

Overall, the big Scandinavian channels are losing audience share to the smaller ones. In Sweden, niche channels are popping up like mushrooms — there are now around 230 smaller channels in addition to the big pubcasters.

Even though SVT still has the most popular shows, its share of the market dropped 13% this summer compared with the same period last year. Similar trends have been reported by program directors in Norway and Finland.

TOP 3

1. Pa sparet (SVT)

2. Kroniken (DR)

3. Nytt pa nytt (NRK)

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