PARIS – The BBC was the world’s leading producer of content in 2016, with more than 340 new programs produced, including “The Night Manager” and “The Hunt,” according to a survey unveiled by Eurodata TV Worldwide.
The BBC was followed by Endemol Shine, which produced, among other shows, “Masterchef” and “Black Mirror” for Netflix, while Zodiak/Banijay and Warner came third. ITV ranked fifth, according to Eurodata.
While the U.K. remained the second biggest (behind the U.S.) distributor of content worldwide last year, France ranked third thanks to popular shows like “Le bureau des legendes” and “Versailles.” Germany ranked fourth with formats such as “The Brain” or “Nation’s Brightest.” Germany is also producing more and more quality fiction drama such as ZDF’s “Rebel with a cause.”
Looking at trends in format sales, Eurodata identified North America, Scandinavia, the Middle East and Western Europe as hot spots accounting for 42% to 54% of exports in their respective neighboring countries.
However, the organization also noted that Middle Eastern audiences, for instance, have an increasing interest in Asian formats, while Latin American audiences are watching more content from the Middle East and Eastern Europe. Scandinavian content is also luring viewers in Oceania.
Eurodata pointed out three emerging markets where exports surged in 2016: United Arab Emirates, Ukraine and Brazil.
Original content was still well-represented in 2016, accounting fore mor than half of productions across all genre, on par with last year. “As many as 8,350 new TV and SVOD shows were launched in 50 countries,” said Sahar Baghery, the content director of international TV formats and contents.
In South Korea, Israel and Turkey, the demand for original shows was particularly high. The top three channels in each territory pulled half of their ratings from local programming.
In terms of 2016’s recurring themes, empowerment came first across the globe. “The topic of empowerment appeared in content dealing with the role of women in a men’s world, as well as giving visibility to diverse communities, including those on the margins,” said Baghery.
Baghery observed the impact of the U.S. election on the debate over women’s empowerment which found an echo in various shows, such as “Pitch,” about a woman starting a career as a professional baseball player. In the U.K, Eurodata cited “Fleabag,” produced by Amazon and created by Phoebe Waller-Bridge, and in Australia, the organization mentioned “Wham Bam Thank you Ma’am.”
As far as shows about the empowerment of communities on the margins, Eurodata gave the example of Britain’s Channel 4, which commissioned the program “Kids on the Edge,” about children with mental health problems. In the Netherlands, RTL4 ordered “The Amsterdam Project,” which shines a light on the struggle of homeless people living in Amsterdam. And in the U.S., ABC aired Dustin Lance Black’s docudrama miniseries “When We Rise,” which is directed by Gus van Sant and chronicles the achievements of the gay rights movement in the U.S., starting with the Stonewall riots in 1969.
Meanwhile, the international expansion of Netflix and Amazon have bolstered the emergence of a global content market. “Netflix launched 26% more original programs between 2015 and 2016, compared with the previous year,” said Baghery.
To address this upward trend of global content, broadcasters forged more alliances with international partners, even between pay and free-to-air channels, as well as VOD services, to produce premium content, said Eurodata.
In France, for instance, TF1 is partnering with NBC, Universal and RTL on original productions. In Italy, Rai has been aiming to raise its profile with the production of internationally-driven shows, notably Frank Spotnitz and Nicholas Meyer’s series “Medici: Masters of Florence,” with Dustin Hoffman. Produced by Italy’s Lux Vid, U.K. outfit Big Light Productions, Rai Fiction and France’s Wild Bunch TV, “Medici” drew record ratings on Rai 1.
Another ongoing trend is the mobile consumption of short-format content. In the U.K., especially, mobile viewership skyrocketed 50% in one year. “As much as 58% of users who watch content on their mobiles across 24 countries watch at least one video per day,” explained Baghery.
This trend has led to the emerging of new platforms dedicated to mobile-native series. In France, a pioneering market for such platforms, Vivendi launched Studio Plus last April while a rival service, Blackpills was launched shortly after. Among the high-profile mobile-native series being produced for Blackpills is Luc Besson’s “Killer’s School.”