Total European TV Production Dips For Soaps, High-End Output Rises

Production of European TV scripted content dropped by more than 600 hours in 2020, which is 4% of total, mainly due to less soaps being made. Conversely, production of high-end shows increased.

These are among the main takeaways of a new report issued by the EU’s European Audiovisual Observatory on Tuesday during the MipTV market in Cannes.

The report lists the BBC as the top commissioner of high-end TV shows in 2020 with between two-to-13 episodes, followed by Netflix, German state broadcasters ARD and ZDF and French pubcaster France Télévisions.

Germany leads the way as the top TV scripted content production country in Europe in terms of number of overall seasons and TV movies produced. But the U.K. has the crown as leading producer of shows and miniseries in the report’s two-to-13 episode category.

The numbers also attest the ongoing production boom in Spain, which spawned more than 60 seasons of high-end dramas between 2015 and 2020, and in the Nordics, which churned out more than 80 during the same period.

Interestingly, in 2020 European public broadcasters accounted for 57% of commissioned scripted dramas while private broadcasters accounted for a 61% share. The report noted that Europe’s pubcasters tend to focus proportionally more on TV movies and short series, while private broadcasters churn out most of the soaps, production of which was halted due to COVID-19 especially in Portugal, Poland, Hungary and the Czech Republic that are Europe’s major soaps producers.

In a market constrained by COVID-19, global streamers increased their European output, releasing 71 original European series in 2020, versus 49 in 2019. Almost 70% of the European shows were commissioned by Netflix, the report said. It noted that U.S. companies also contribute to European drama production through their Europe subsidiaries such as Comcast, which owns pan-European pay-TV service Sky, and also through Discovery, now merging with HBO Max.

On the production side, France’s Mediawan/Leonine, pan-European conglomerate Banijay and Germany’s RTL group are Europe’s three main producers of independent TV drama content.

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