Carlos Hertel, director of international sales at Bavaria Media International, talks to TV Drama about the change both in the supply of and demand for drama series over the last year.
With the production halts and reschedules of the last year, Bavaria Media International has been witnessing a change both in the supply of and demand for drama series. Where demand is concerned, escapist topics are currently trending, according to Hertel. “But also, classically, crime and suspense have remained the most sought-after genres for us.”
“On the other hand, our customers were affected by serious restrictions on the supply side,” he continues. “There were and are still budget-related changes in demand due to reschedules in programming, especially in the linear market. More specifically, this means that demand is becoming increasingly disparate in the various segments because budgets also have shifted significantly. These changes need to be countered quickly.”
Hertel also cites the lack of personal exchange at in-person markets as one of the largest shakeups. “In 2020, we had a great need to adapt from physical interaction to digital distribution and marketing. This will certainly continue shaping the market and propelling new distribution models. We are not going to return to the physical global markets like we know them from the pre-pandemic times so quickly. Too much has happened for that—also good things, by the way.
“Nevertheless, one has to wait and see how the increase in digital communication can be efficiently integrated into all processes and, above all, how increasing virtualization affects creative processes—both in production and in sales. We will have to reinvent ourselves and not only offer digital extensions to the physical office.”
German drama, he says, is in constant and increasing demand. Bavaria Media International’s catalog boasts more than 25,000 programming hours and includes classics such as Berlin Alexanderplatz, The Manns and Das Boot. “With cancellations and halts of the last year, we have been able to deliver an extensive library of shows in different formats and genres,” Hertel says.
Long-running hits such as Storm of Love and Zoo Doctor from the company’s catalog “feed the audiences’ need for escapism and provide a certain stability to our clients,” says Hertel.
Storm of Love has maintained its international appeal for 15 years despite facing competition from telenovelas and is still going strong. “Its exceptional stories have launched long-lasting fixed broadcasts in Western and Eastern European countries such as Italy, Finland, Belgium and Latvia,” Hertel says.
Crime procedurals such as Crimescapes—Scales of Justice and Imagining Murder have also been in demand.
At MIPTV, Bavaria Media International launched the TV movie Exit, which is a part of ARD’s “near-future” movie collection. “This impressively tightly-wound futuristic thriller offers a long list of virtual and digital ingredients, hitting the nerve of our times in which we are forced to rely on digital elements more than ever,” says Hertel.
Bavaria Media International actively acquires award-winning programs from diverse genres. Titles such as Merkel—Anatomy of a Crisis by Stephan Wagner have generated international buzz.
“Apart from escapist topics and subjects dealing with the increased digitalization and virtualization of our lives, we can definitely identify diversity, women empowerment and changing social and gender roles as the most-recent trends in drama,” Hertel says.
The movie cycle Men in Charge, launched 2019, is back with two new episodes telling the stories of fathers in action Timo and Andreas. “The movies reflect these topics by giving an unusually close look at men who slip into the female skin and the role they play in raising children,” he notes. The movie cycle Toni, the Midwife centers on a man who works in the titular profession traditionally associated with women “and delivers another entertaining view on reversed gender stereotypes.”
Hertel also highlights the miniseries Dr. Dog, which follows an innovative psychologist and his canine assistant as they take on the tough cases even the patient has given up on. “The psychological effect of the pandemic has not yet been addressed properly and exactly this element makes this series a timely choice. It caters toward people wanting to be heard and wanting to address a phenomenon that has sadly been neglected in the past.”
Bavaria Media International’s brand-new lineup offers several AI dramas, among them the futuristic crime dramas Hal and Maleficius—A.I. Will End You. The heartwarming drama Lothar—Wake Me Up, When I’m Dead is the antithesis to the ‘brave new world’ of AI, Hertel points out.
In line with the trend of stories based on true events, Bavaria Media International has two new investigative dramas in its catalog: Freedom to Killand After the Bomb.
The company is also highlighting the returning legal drama Falk: Compulsive, Savant, Flair featuring the charismatic anti-hero Falk, who stars as an anti-lawyer in a genre mashup more about broken dreams and unconventional solutions than particular legal storylines. “The series’ sophisticated look and clever twists keep up with international viewers’ expectations and fascination with legal drama,” says Hertel. “As an unpredictable and insightful take on the midlife-crisis-burnout topic, this visual gem entertains broad audiences.”
He adds, “In light of an ongoing fragmentation of society and audiences driven by the proliferation of digital content consumption, Bavaria feels very well positioned. Thanks to our large stock of rights and to our solid ties to the creative community, we’ve been lucky to navigate Covid-19 times together successfully. Now, looking to the future, we have been reinforcing these ties, especially by expanding and strengthening our position in acquisitions and development. Traditionally, production and sales go hand in hand at Bavaria Film Group. We are going to reinforce our content distribution slate by now joining the new projects even at an earlier stage. This mostly implies the co-development and co-financing models, where sales is going to be a part of the production process from the very beginning.”