In the second quarter of this year, commissions by the leading free-to-air groups in Western Europe’s largest TV markets were up 64 percent on the same period in 2019, according to Ampere Analysis.
Ampere explored commissioning activity among the leading public and commercial free-to-air broadcasters in the U.K., France, Germany, Spain and Italy. It found that there were almost 600 brand-new first-run TV shows commissioned for their channels and on-demand services, 23 percent higher than pandemic-stricken 2020.
Gains were seen in both scripted and unscripted commissions, Ampere reports. The number of new scripted project commissions nearly doubled from Q2 2020, and were almost 25 percent higher than the same period in 2019. Unscripted shows (mainly documentary, reality and light entertainment) accounted for 80 percent of all commissions in the first half of 2021.
Richard Broughton, research director at Ampere Analysis, noted, “This ramp-up of activity is as much out of necessity for some groups as it is a strategic choice. Many of Europe’s commercial broadcasters have historically relied on licensed content to fill linear channel schedules, with U.S. imports a key source of high-quality content. But as U.S. media giants increasingly turn their attention to their own platforms, buyers have needed to find alternative options to bolster their slates for both linear and VOD to compensate for an increasingly siloed market.”
Broadcasters are increasingly emphasizing their on-demand slates, with commissions for VOD-first titles representing 16 percent of all new commissions from Western Europe’s biggest players in Q2. “In the same period pre-pandemic in 2019, VOD commissions represented 11 percent of broadcaster-led projects,” Broughton said. “Progress to accelerate the number of on-demand debuts is slow, with broadcasters having to manage their VOD ambitions alongside the competing demands of meeting the needs of broadcast audiences (and advertisers) and managing squeezed finances. But the major European broadcasters should not underestimate the important role that VOD-specific commissions play in driving adoption of their own streaming products.”