The SVOD giants do generate the most ink when it comes to scripted deals, but the area driving new opportunities for many distributors is less about the global players and more about the regional services kicking into high gear.
Viaplay is on a tear, executing on ambitious expansion plans, but its approach to commissions is still very much rooted in partnerships. “We’re interested in the markets we’re in and even though they are increasing—we will be in at least 15 markets by the end of 2023—there is a lot of the world left,” Filippa Wallestam, executive VP and chief content officer at Nordic Entertainment Group (NENT Group), told me recently. “It leaves room for more collaborations and for the creators to get their shows financed but still have a significant upside in the back end.”
I heard a similar sentiment from Ryan Chanatry, general manager of North American streamer Topic, which has been acquiring signature productions like The Killing and Baron Noir. “There is so much support for incredible series, especially in Europe. If those are not globally available rights, services like ours are great partners for the Nordic broadcasters, the STUDIOCANALs, the ARTEs, the ZDFs and all of the other strong brands and filters that have started to [come into] their own in the last five to ten years. It becomes a different approach when you have multiple markets.”
As I heard from several distributors in my conversations for this edition’s feature on European drama, the expansion of the streaming universe combined with the ambitious needs of broadcasters has resulted in a raft of new kinds of partnerships that are driving what does feel like a renaissance in European drama. And it’s only going to get more competitive as everyone looks for new ways to drive viewership and subscriptions, reduce churn, keep advertisers happy and, most importantly, have audiences tuned in and clamoring for more.
This edition also spotlights the very hot remake market, as pandemic woes and rising budgets are leading producers and commissioners to find more cost-effective, less risky ways to get shows on screen. Interestingly, several distributors are now selling multiple versions of the same show. In this new age when subtitles don’t bother anyone, will viewers check into different takes on Doctor Foster or Liar or Fauda or any of the other great brands being remade across borders? I know I will.