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Series Mania 2022 – Series Mania Forum

Industry Report: Series

The Series Mania Forum explores key trends in the pan-European audiovisual landscape

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Various confirmations and a few surprise developments were revealed by the European Audiovisual Observatory within the world of TV, film, video and on-demand audiovisual services

The Series Mania Forum explores key trends in the pan-European audiovisual landscape
European Commissioner Margrethe Vestager at the Lille Dialogues

Europe was at the heart of the Lille Dialogues held on Thursday 24 March, within the Series Mania Festival’s professional sidebar, and it was Denmark’s Margrethe Vestager (Competition Commissioner and Executive VP for a Europe fit for the digital age at the European Commission) who kicked off the day by emphasising the need for an open but fair (and therefore regulated) audiovisual market in this golden age of content; in other words, not allowing "gatekeepers" too much freedom (across many areas, whether from algorithms to revenue sharing with creators, or from additional services to greater data transparency, etc.) and providing European actors with the resources they need to compete with the American giants.

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Next, it was the turn of the European Audiovisual Observatory to take to the floor, unveiling its 2021/2022 Key Trends Annual pertaining to a pan-European landscape encompassing TV, film, video and on-demand audiovisual services. This quantified data notably raises question marks over a variety of assumptions. Firstly, the idea that SVoDs might have benefited from the pandemic isn’t as clear cut as all that. In reality, the increase in SVoD subscriptions in 2020 (+46 % on 2019) was markedly similar to that seen in 2019 (+45 % on 2018). In this sense, the health crisis might have helped maintain momentum, but it certainly didn’t create it. Moreover, this growth wasn’t to the detriment of other types of chargeable services, namely pay-TV whose subscribers rose by 1.9 % in 2020.

The second surprise was that global streaming platforms were only responsible for 10% of series produced in European in 2020, 50% of these having been commissioned by European public broadcasters and 40% by their private counterparts. In this sense, the reality of the new Eldorado of European series (a 30% rise in production since 2015 and only a very slight slowdown brought about by the pandemic) isn’t quite what the streamers’ media hype would have us believe (for now, even if Netflix became one of the main commissioners of broadcast TV series in 2020, second only to the BBC).

On the other hand, whilst the claim that American actors are taking over the European audiovisual industry is definitely an exaggeration, it is nonetheless corroborated by various indices. American contributions to European audiovisual services rose from 27% in 1996 to 31% in 2020. And if we exclude public European operators, this figure jumps up to 44%, two thirds of which courtesy of four main actors: Sky, Netflix, Amazon and Dazn. The weight of American-owned groups - indisputable when it comes to SVoD (reeling in roughly 80% of total subscriber numbers) - is also apparent when it comes to audiences (11 %) thanks to their wide array of thematic channels (19% of all TV licenses in Europe are awarded to American-owned services).

Whether you’re interested in an advertising market in transition, the rapid developments experienced by broadcasters playing catch-up (who no longer limit themselves to replaying their recently broadcast programmes, but also add numerous other programmes to their agenda), the matter of critical size (13 rather eclectic European groups are among the top 50 audiovisual players in the world), the wave of mergers and acquisitions fuelled by the SVoD race and the COVID-19 crisis, or the circulation of European works, the European Audiovisual Observatory’s report has everything you need to know.

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(Translated from French)

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