TV 2’s Lars Erik Nielsen

Lars Erik Nielsen has been part of the acquisitions team at the government-owned TV 2 in Denmark since 2009. He works across a variety of genres for both TV 2’s linear channels, including TV 2 Charlie, and streaming service, TV 2 Play. Nielsen tells TV Drama Weekly about the types of scripted acquisitions that appeal to the TV 2 viewers.

TV DRAMA: How much of the TV 2 slate is acquired drama?
NIELSEN: We are a public-service media company owned by the state, but we act and broadcast on commercial terms. So, on our main channel, we have a broad range of different programming—from news to lifestyle ***Image***to documentaries, and we have a lot of locally produced dramas. [A small] percent of the broadcasting time on the main channel is drama and a small part of that is from the U.S. (it’s only Blue Bloods really). On TV 2 Charlie, which is the third most-watched channel in Denmark, we have a much bigger part as drama—70 percent of Charlie is drama. Of that, 97 percent is acquired drama and is primarily English-language, some German-language also. We don’t really acquire from the U.S., but we acquire a lot from the U.K. and some [from Germany].

TV DRAMA: What do you keep top of mind when you do acquire scripted?
NIELSEN: What I pick up is not that varied because most of our drama is picked up for TV 2 Charlie. It’s blue-sky drama and blue-sky crime primarily. I’m always looking for likable characters, heroes that you want to root for, and coherent storylines—not too complicated, maybe a more laid-back viewing of drama. When the crime has been solved, everything is back to the status quo, and you feel good about it. It’s easy to recognize what works and does not work.

Personally, I’m a big fan of dark drama, but I’m not picking it up for TV 2 Charlie because our viewers don’t really want that. I’m trying to push the envelope sometimes; we picked up SAS: Rogue Heroes. This is a risky [choice] for TV 2 Charlie viewers, but it’s great drama. But the channel is mostly blue-sky crime and episodic, not too serialized.

TV DRAMA: What are you currently on the lookout for concerning drama acquisitions?
NIELSEN: We are so privileged that our partnerships for TV 2 Play with SkyShowtime, C More and BritBox cover a lot of great content. So, my job is to find the right content for TV 2 Charlie, the linear channel. A fun fact is that nearly 49 percent of the time spent on our player is live viewing. People are watching live channels just via the player. So, I need to find something that works on TV 2 Charlie. I’m looking for more Death in Paradise and [the British series] The Diplomat. It’s more of this in the same vein and trying to push the envelope sometimes. I’m always open to suggestions that could broaden the scope of the content we are airing on TV 2 Charlie, but it has to be a nice watch.

TV DRAMA: When it comes to rights, what’s your stance on exclusivity?
NIELSEN: We are not a big player in the global sense, and we don’t have infinite funds, so we try to work with co-exclusivity. But, of course, if we pay a premium price for a drama, we want exclusivity in Denmark. I’m not afraid of second windowing because TV 2 Charlie, TV 2 and TV 2 Play are good homes for great dramas. So, even if it’s been on, maybe not Netflix, but on HBO Max or Prime Video, it hasn’t been widespread among our audience. So, it’ll find a new life on our services. The second window is an opportunity for me.