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A post-lockdown trend, unscripted commissioning has shot up from 32% of global commissions in fourth quarter 2019 to match scripted with 52% in 2022 Q4, according to Ampere Analysis.

The spike in Spain is even stronger: 2022 Q3 saw 166 unscripted titles announced, compared to 40 scripted, 1Q 2023 96 vs. 23.

As elsewhere, with fiction production costs soaring, unscripted has found a bigger demand among Spanish streamers and broadcasters, looking for less budget-heavy fare.

“Probably the pandemic oversized fiction. Now audiences are looking for a good time, opting for entertainment formats with less dense narratives,” argues Daniel Domenjó at Mediacrest, producer of TVE’s hit daily game show “El cazador” and new reality format “El pueblo.”

“Interest in non-fiction content has increased due to operators’ need to vary their offer,” argues Atresmedia Sales’ José Antonio Salso.

Scripted and unscripted contents today straddle free-to-air and streaming TV.

While linear TV operators back realities, talent and game shows and magazines, platforms push docu-series, especially sport-related productions, led by Prime Video.

For public broadcaster TVE, Shine Iberia-produced culinary show “Masterchef,” now in its 11th season, is a robust weekly primetime mainstay.

Further TVE unscripted takes in music talent shows “Duos Increíbles” and “Cover Night.” It is also adapting long-term Basque reality TV hit “El conquistador,” produced by The Mediapro Studios’ Hostoil.

Meanwhile private free-to-air broadcasters Atresmedia and Mediaset have recently strengthened links with Fremantle to continue securing big primetime formats.

After eight editions of “Got Talent,” Mediaset has signed with Fremantle a strategic deal which sees the production of spin-off, “Got Talent: All-Stars.”

Atresmedia, with consolidated primetime bets such as “El hormiguero,” “Tu cara me suena,” “The Voice” and “Masked Singer,” is teaming with Fremantle on a new “Password” redo, previously aired on Mediaset’s Cuatro.  

In Spain’s OTT universe, Fremantle boasts a prominent presence, with four formats produced – 30 hours –, including Movistar Plus+ TV show “Martínez y Hermanos” and Netflix reality-dating contest “Amor con fianza,” according to a Geca study.

“Unscripted allows platforms to diversify content for and create an attractive offer for advertisers in new ad-supported subscription models,” notes Geca’s Gloria Saló.

Over the years, Telefonica’s Movistar Plus+ has grown unscripted. In 2022, the paybox topped non-fiction rankings among OTTs, with 83 hours, led by culinary show “Cinco tenedores” and documentary “Raphaelismo.”

A pioneering reality show on Spain’s streaming landscape, Banijay Iberia’s Zeppelin-produced “El puente” (“The Bridge”), broadcast since 2017 by Movistar Plus+, is attracting heat, adapted by France’s M6, U.K.’s Channel 4., Brazil’s HBO Max and Paramount+ in Australia.

Netflix is betting on Made in Spain reality TV, launching five shows last year. 60% of Spanish subscribers watched a local reality show in 2022, the streamer says.

HBO, whose first original production in Spain was non-fiction series “El pionero,” has in true-crime “Arny la historia de una infamia” one of its recent standout titles.

Jose Velasco, iZen founder and producer of “Big Brother” and “Insiders,” Netflix’s first Spanish original reality, puts down unscripted foreseeable growth to “efficiency and profitability, production speed and an immediacy in satisfying trends.”

Its contribution to a “varied menu” is especially telling if live programming begins to be an important part of a streamer’s offer, he adds.

Non-fiction often reaches global audiences via streamers. Local formats are increasingly traveling abroad via super-indies.

The Mediapro Studio, which tapped Amparo Castellano to drive non-fiction production worldwide, is rapidly becoming a leading player in exporting and adapting Spanish and international content.

Eying Spain and Latin America, Belgium shows “The Musical of Your Life” and “The Big Job Switch,” are being developed by TMS after inking a deal with Be-Entertainment.

The Village Courtesy of Mediacrest