ORF-Enterprise & the Draw of European Drama

Armin Luttenberger, head of content sales international at ORF-Enterprise, talks to TV Drama about how European dramas with original stories, authentic characters and high production values are continuing to find success around the world.

Austrian-based ORF-Enterprise, together with its co-production partners, is offering these well-produced titles in its own territory and internationally. “It is interesting to observe that there is obviously room for so many different types of programs on the market, driven by global, nonlinear players that have been a door-opener for new program types from different cultures,” says Luttenberger.

Though long-running shows remain in demand, Luttenberger finds that “there has been a craving for creative approaches to storytelling, with a format fully committed to the story itself and fresh faces on the screens.” He adds, “There are always seasonal high-performers—true-crime, etc.—but in the long run, it is always a pleasure seeing high-quality content performing so well, not only in our home market but also internationally.”

Luttenberger also notes that while English-language content has historically dominated the landscape, titles in other languages—including those that feature multiple languages—are finding their footing on the global stage.

Demand for drama—across its many sub-genres and languages—has persisted amid Covid-19, which impacted production schedules and affected logistics and costs with the necessary introduction of guidelines for the safety and security of everyone on set and involved in production. But the “joint commitment of the industry led to the successful completion of the productions with only little effect on the schedule,” says Luttenberger. “ORF and its co-production partners have been working hard to keep up the output despite the difficult situation, and we are proud to offer new seasons, new movies and even new series to the market.”

Among the drama titles on ORF-Enterprise’s slate are a pair of movies from its Tatort strand, which have been licensed to Denmark (TV2), Italy (Discovery) and Croatia (HRT), and a new season of Fast Forward, which is heading into its seventh season. “Broadcasters and platforms from all over the world have been picking Austrian crime dramas [over] the past few years, and they received great ratings and audience feedback on their channels and services,” says Luttenberger.

There’s also the Alps-set Soko Kitzbühel, which will air its series finale later this year, and its forthcoming spin-off series Soko Linz, which is set to debut in 2022. Soko Kitzbühel has sold into Germany (Sky), Italy (Viacom), France (Canal+), Switzerland (SRF, RTS, RSI), Hungary (Media Vivantis), the Czech Republic (FTV Prima) and Latvia (LRT).

“The success of our strong TV movies and series in various European countries is motivating us to roll out our products in markets like the Americas and Asia,” says Luttenberger.