CBS tops Europe’s drama league

Studio's shows fill 4,861 hours in primetime

LONDON — CBS overtook Warner Bros. to become Europe’s No. 1 distributor of U.S. drama series in 2011, thanks to fare like the “CSI” franchise.

CBS drama programs filled 4,861 hours in primetime across 119 channels in 21 territories, according to a new report, “Imported Drama Series in Europe.”

Warner Bros. came in second with 3,891 hours. Disney and NBCU were in third and fourth place respectively, with 3,327 and 2,901 hours.

Jonathan Bailey, the report’s co-author, said: “The number of hours screened by each major distributor is driven by a small number of highly successful programs — 2011 saw very strong usage of ‘CSI’ and ‘NCIS’ in primetime widely across Europe.”

He added that 81% of imported drama hours were transmitted outside primetime.

U.K. niche web E4, owned by pubcaster Channel 4, screened the most imported drama in Europe, defined by number of hours, said the research.

Also in the U.K., ITV3 and ITV4 saw substantial growth in the amount of acquired shows aired. But BBC1, BBC2 and ITV1 transmitted less than an hour a day of imported drama series during 2011.