CANNES — NRK’s “Skam” (Shame), an unprecedented Norwegian cult web-TV hit that attained the Holy Grail of broadcasting – a reconquering of teen auds – is now set for national remakes in five of Europe’s key TV territories: Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the Netherlands.
In a first European roll-out of the milestone blog-style web series, orchestrated by Norwegian pubcaster NRK and Beta Film, which handle international on “Shame,” Banijay Studios France is preparing screenplays in partnership with France Télévisions, aiming to go into production in 2017.
Bantry Bay and ZDF/Funk are preparing a German makeover, Telefonica’s Movistar + the Spanish retread, while NTR will produce a Dutch reversion for the Netherlands’ NRT/NPO; in Italy, Rome-based Cross Productions aims to go into production for Timvision, the VOD service of Italia Telecom, by the end of the year.
The presence of three public broadcasters and two telecoms among the European remake partners emphasizes the broad appeal of a series for both traditional TV networks that have seen their teen audiences slump worryingly and new telco entrants aiming to power up cord-cut SVOD services among a natural demography.
According to NRK and Beta executives, remake candidates’ were carefully vetted to ensure the authenticity of their makeovers.
“We would rather have a few really good remakes than a lot of mediocre ones,” Haakon Moslet, NRK’s head of youth TV, said at Cannes.
Premiering from September 2015 on a website on Norway’s NRK, “Shame” aired a new clip or social media post daily. Producer Julie Aden extensively researched her target audience. The result was a series which got far closer to how teens really live and experience there final time at high-school, their relationship heartbreaks, social inadequacies, experimentation with sex and fear about the future.
One commissioning criteria was for reversioning producers to “do a lot of research in their own countries’ target group before making the series, finding out what is unique about the dreams and dilemmas of teenagers, not just copying the original,” he added, saying there will be no specific attempt to simulcast the adaptations.
“We are very excited about the tremendous interest that Skam/Shame has generated outside of Norway,” said NRK CEO Thor Gjermund Eriksen.
He added: “The creators of Skam aimed to help 16-year-old-girls strengthen their self-esteem through dismantling taboos, making them aware of interpersonal mechanisms and showing them the benefits of confronting their fears. This is a vision we are proud to bring to other countries.”
“‘Shame’ is an absolutely unique, highly authentic program, which zigzags between web and traditional TV,” said Beta Film’s Justus Riesenkampff, adding that “its ability to connect to the young target group fascinates broadcasters and platforms all over the world.”
Riesenkampff added: “Whether commercial players or public services, TV operators all have the same hope and struggle to reach the 12-25 audience, and ‘Shame,’ whose core audience is 14-18, has proven a new way of reaching this audience.”
One NRK innovation was to release webisodes suddenly, without prior warning, relaying in apparent real time a key event affecting one of the teen characters. Boasting web-specific storytelling elements – texts, images – as well as live-action drama scenes – “Shame” also kicked off with pretty well nil marketing.
“The show was launched by mouth-to-mouth more or less, which allowed it to be discovered by a young teen audience that doesn’t want to be told what to watch but rather wants to discover that for themselves,” Riesenkampff commented.
Beta Film acquired sales rights to “Shame” as part of a distribution deal with NRK Super’s kids content. In 2016, Beta launched Dramacorp, a Stockholm-based joint production venture with French/Swedish producer Patrick Nebout.
“Scandinavia is a very competitive market. There’s a lot of big groups producing and distributing drama,” Riesenkampff said. “Nobody could have predicted that ‘Shame’ would be such a big hit, But it didn’t come out of nowhere. Web-shows like ‘Young Girls,’ also made for NRK Super, were also a big success in Norway.”