Benoît Danard, head of research and statistics at France’s National Film Board (CNC), hosted a brief presentation at the Series Mania festival in Lille on Tuesday, where he outlined international TV commissioning trends according to a recent Ampere Analysis study.
For the study, Ampere tracked all commissioned TV shows for both linear broadcasters and VOD platforms from Aug. 2020 to July 2021 in more than 80 markets worldwide.
Starting with France, Daranrd noted that in 2021 foreign online platforms will invest €97 million ($114 million) in local production. That figure is up a staggering €60 million ($70.78 million) from 2020’s total of €37 million ($43.65 million), which was stunted by the COVID-19 pandemic and didn’t even reach 2019’s total of €39 million ($46 million). The Q2 drop in production was reflected globally, as lockdowns made filming exceedingly difficult, if not impossible.
“As you know, the European Union Audiovisual Media Services Directive has been integrated into French law, and the new legislation makes streamers directly reinvest a percentage of their revenue in local production,” Danard pointed out as the primary cause of the explosive growth. “These new conditions are having a significant impact on the market and are accelerating already existing trends. Streamers tend to spend more on local production.”
More generally, he explained that since 2018 the number of commissioned series from streamers has grown significantly. In 2018, streamers accounted for around 20% of all titles. That figure has grown to around 30% today.
According to the data, China and the U.S. were far and away the two largest commissioners of fiction series in the world over the last 12 months, each surpassing 600 orders. Despite its size, Japan (264) landed at third with India (230) and Russia (182) more predictably rounding out the top five.
The U.K. was Europe’s most prolific commissioning country over the past year with 180 shows ordered. Germany (121), France (101), Turkey (101), Ukraine (81), Spain (74) and Italy (50) followed. Globally, South Korea at 148 series commissioned, Canada with 49 and Mexico with 41 stood out.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Ampere data indicates that global streaming platforms were the biggest individual commissioners of fiction series, with Disney at 206 series and Netflix 188. While all of Netflix’s commissions are explicitly for its streaming platform, Benoit noted that interestingly, “more than half of Disney’s commissions were made for its streaming services Disney Plus and Hulu,” rather than the company’s linear channels.
Far behind the two giants were ViacomCBS (121), WarnerMedia (113) and Comcast (108) in the U.S. Amazon, one of only three entirely digital companies in the top 15 with Netflix and iQiyi, ordered 99. Top European commissioners were the BBC (85), ZDF (54) and France TV (36), the only European countries in the top 15.
In Asia, China’s iQiyi and Japan’s Nikkei commissioned 57 and 52 shows respectively, while Zee in India and Gazprom OJSC in Russia each ordered 42.
Unsurprisingly, English was the most common language for new commissions over the past year, with more than 900 new fiction TV series ordered in the language. Mandarin came in a distant second at just over 650 before an even more precipitous drop off to Japanese (263), Russian (193), Spanish (162) and Hindi (156).
Danard pointed out that not only is Spanish high on the list because of the number of speakers in the world, but because of a recent boom in production in Spanish-language territories and the international popularity of several major Spanish titles.
Benoit’s favorite slide of the day, or at least the one he claimed was the most interesting, broke down the most popular genres for new commissions over the past year. “More than half the commissions of the past year were either dramas or crime shows,” he explained.
“As you can see, linear broadcasters rely on drama, whereas genres such as comedy or sci-fi are much better represented in the commissions of new players,” he pointed out, showing two colorful bar graphs labeled Linear and VoD, the latter divided into far more even blocks than the former. He noted that streamers are more than twice as likely to commission a science fiction series as a linear broadcaster, with the opposite being true for drama series.
Geographically, France stands out as one of the countries with the highest percentage of commissions of crime and thriller shows, but apparently lacked a sense of humor, resulting in the lowest percentage of comedy commissions. Conversely, in Germany and the U.K. comedy programs made up almost a third of all commissions.
The U.S. and South Korea are the countries most dedicated to science fiction, with 18% of their commissions coming from the genre. Romantics might be most comfortable in Japan, South Korea, Turkey and Mexico, where romance series account for a significant portion of commissions. Not coincidentally, series from those four countries frequently do well in the other territories, particularly soap operas or novellas.