In this week’s International TV Newswire, Variety recaps Discovery U.K.’s best-ever year, a new Netflix stop motion series from Nexus Studios, Annecy’s growth, DCD’s pre-sales and NATPE lineup and another plaudit for “Friends” creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman.

2019 Marks Biggest Year Yet for Discovery U.K.

Discovery U.K. enjoyed a banner year in 2019, with total audience growth of 7%, outpacing the TV market at large which declined by 4%. Other benchmarks achieved by the network include male viewership of Quest rising by 13%, the creation of a new Food Network channel, and a 46% growth in women viewers. In digital, Discovery’s portfolio hit 1.9 billion views on YouTube. The company’s portfolio increased by an average share of 4.2% (A16+), an 11% increase over 12 months. Additionally, Discovery hosted its largest-ever one-day share of 5.4% on Aug. 12. The network’s pay TV channels also boasted record numbers of VOD requests, surpassing 60m, a 26% increase from the previous year. Channels including Quest, DMAX – which replaced Travel Channel at the beginning of the year – Food Network, Quest Red, Discovery Channel, TLC and Eurosport were major contributors to the company’s 2019 numbers.

Netflix Orders New Series from BAFTA-Winning Nexus Studios

Oscar, Emmy and BAFTA-nominated Nexus Studios will produce “The House,” a new adult-aimed stop motion dark comedy commissioned by Netflix’s Mike Moon, head of adult animation at the platform.  The project will be headed by renowned directors Niki Lindroth von Bahr, director of Annecy and Toronto winner “The Burden”; Emma De Swaef and Marc James Roles, co-directors of the Annie-nominated Cannes Directors’ Fortnight and Toronto player “This Magnificent Cake”; and actress-animator Paloma Baeza, director of the BAFTA and Annie-winning “Poles Apart.” Turning on a house and the surreal stories of three generations of families who have lived in it, the series’ three episodes will be split up between the artists. According to Nexus co-founder and producer Charlotte Bavasso, the series is “witty, inquisitive, warm and yet packed with offbeat humor.”

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Annecy Answers Overcrowding Concerns with Extra Screenings, More Venues

One major concern has marred Annecy Intl. Animated Film Festival’s continued growth: Overcrowding. Last year, a record 12,300 badge holders attended – indeed, the event and MIFA market has been punching year-on-year growth for over a decade  – and while the quality of content, participation of major producers and networks and influence of MIFA have all trended upwards, badge holders have complained about long lines to get into popular screenings. In response, Annecy has announced a 26% increase in the number of seats for screenings at this year’s event, as well as new venues and 10 additional screenings per day, including new morning screenings intended as an alternative for professionals who spend large portions of their days in meetings or at the MIFA market. Two new theaters have been added to the festival map and going forward badge holders will be granted exclusive and privileged admission to the Bonlieu, the central hub for major screenings.

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DCD Announces Presales and Natpe Debuts

Ahead of Miami’s NATPE, U.K. distribution company DCD Rights has announced pre-sales on its new factual entertainment series “Disasters Engineered” to Discovery in the U.K. and Eire and DR in Denmark, and “Aussie Bull Catchers” to Viasat World for Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and CIS. Produced by SWR Media, Intermission Film and DCD Rights in association with Dash Pictures for Discovery U.K., “Disasters Engineered” – in some markets “Deadly Engineering0 – ” chronicles history’s greatest engineering disasters such as Chernobyl and the Hindenburg while “Aussie Bull Catchers” documents wildlife wranglers who seek out feral bulls and buffalo in the Australian wilderness. Other titles DCD Rights will debut at NATPE include FirstLookTV and DCD’s “The Lady Killers,” Forces TV’s “The Real Prince Philip: A Royal Officer,” Blue Marlin Television’s “James Martin’s Islands & Highlands” and Tern TV Productions “The Bone Detectives.”

“Friends” Co-Creators to be Honored at NATPE’s Parrot Analytics Awards

“Friends” co-creators David Crane and Marta Kauffman will be honored at the Global Iconic Demand Award at Parrot Analytics Global TV Demand Awards held under the auspices of Natpe: Miami on Jan. 21. Awards will be handed out to the most in-demand shows of 2019, with “Friends” leading the pack 25 years after it first hit NBC’s airwaves. Parrot Analytics’ uses social media engagement, video streaming and peer-to-peer protocols, photo sharing, blogging and research platforms to determine the popularity of series, new and old. The ceremony will be hosted by TV personality/style guru/author, and member of the original “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy,” Fab Five Carson Kressley, as announced by Variety in December.

(Pictured: (left to right) Niki Lindroth von Bahr, Login Emma de Swaef, Marc James Roels and Paloma Baeza; Annecy Festival; (left to right) David Crane and Marta Kauffman)

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