PAMPLONA, Spain — One issue dominated “Fiction Series, the Tsunami Continues,” a Conecta Fiction presentation by Madrid-based consultancy Gabinete de Estudios de la Comunicación Audiovisual: the impact of streaming services on scripted series, their production and consumption.
In an analysis of the main markets in Europe and Latin America which drew on multiple studies and occasionally took in the U.S., GECA deputy director general Luis de Zubiaurre Wagner returned time and again to the theme at a presentation on June 18:
*In the U.S., OTT platforms for the first time released more series in 2018 (160) than basic cable (144), free to air TV (146) and premium cable (45), according to an FX study.
*The biggest sub-genre of U.S. releases, and the one which showed the biggest growth last year, was fantasy/sci-fi, with a total 119 new series bowing in 2018. That reflects these shows’ popularity on streaming platforms, and is one reason why directors from all over the world are gravitating towards such genre.
*In Mexico, after production levels, calculated by new series releases, near doubled in 2017 to 34, compared to 18 in 2015, production tapered to 24 series bows, the same number as in 2016. Telenovela production near collapsed, however, down to just six new tootles, compared to 12 in 2014, 13 in 2015, 2016’s 8 and 15 in 2017. “The new production levels of these platforms is imposing change of taste and production standards. High-end series are getting made in Mexico which are equal to those in the U.K. or U.S,” Zubiarre Wagner said at Conecta Fiction.
*In Argentina, drama production levels plunged last year to six, half 2017’s figure. That can be put down to flood of Turkish novel imports, and scheduled releases being pushed back to this year, said Zubiarre Wagner.
*In Chile as well, the number of national telenovela productions has plunged, from 11 in 2014 to five last year. Chilean drama releases, just one in 2016 and 2017, were up to three in 2018.
*Germany, Spain and now France have seen an extraordinary increase in the number of scripted series produced, a reflection of and a reaction to the disruption of global platforms. 35 in 2014, the number of German fiction series released increased to 70 last year. In Spain, those levels jumped from 19 to 27, thanks to pay TV bows, said Zubiaurre Wagner. Just five in 2017, French drama releases leapt to 19 in 2018, thanks to an extraordinary increase in suspense titles, from two in 2017 to 11 last year.
“France, traditionally has a large presence of U.S. fiction in primetime. Now, however, we’ve seen an increase in local fiction and a clear trend towards drama, with the number of thrillers up to 11 last year,” Zubiaurre Wagner commented. The production of series along the lines, very broadly, of “Stranger Things,” is one of the most important trends that have marked the build of global platforms, he added.
*If this is a golden age of scripted series production, that means, almost by definition, that competition is bitter. The results can be clearly seen. Homing in on Spain, the Geca presentation, which went on to consider changing consumer habits, suggested that this season only one scripted series in Spain, “The Good Doctor,” has averaged more than 3 million viewers. One reason: Many viewers are now catching scripted series, such as Movistar +’s “Arde Madrid,” among the most popular, via SVOD. Over the 2015/16, 2016/17 and 2017/18 seasons, the umber of successful new fiction series in Spain, punching more than their channel averages, was 55%, 50% and 62%. Over the 2018/19 season, at least to date, that figure has plunged to 31%