EAO Reports More European Scripted Series, Shorter Episode Counts


A new report from the European Audiovisual Observatory (EAO) has found that there are more high-end scripted series being produced in Europe, but with fewer episodes.

The findings show, on average, over 1,100 titles, 22,000 episodes and 14,000 hours of fiction are produced each year in Europe (though the 2020-21 Covid-19 crisis halted growth).

Daily telenovelas and soaps account for 61 percent of hours produced. With large volumes of telenovelas/soaps produced each year, Germany, Poland and Greece are the leaders in the volume of hours produced. Hungary and Portugal are also driven by series with more than 52 episodes per season.

More than half of all scripted titles produced in Europe are 13-or-fewer-episodes-per-season series. In 2019, the average number of episodes per season was 7.9, with an average duration of 42.5 minutes. In 2020, it was an average of 7.6 episodes per season and 42.1 minutes. In 2021, it was 7.5 episodes and 40.2 minutes.

After a peak in 2018, there have been fewer international co-productions. International co-pros account for 8 percent of all fiction titles and are mostly limited to TV movies and series of two to three episodes per season. The majority of international co-productions used to be between two neighboring countries sharing the same language, but non-linguistic co-productions have gradually increased and represented close to 60 percent of all co-pros. From 2015 to 2021, there were 410 European “linguistic” co-productions and 207 that were European countries but excluded linguistics. In the same period, there were 131 co-pros between Europe and the U.S./Canada. European co-productions with countries outside of Europe or North America stood at 34.

In terms of commissioning, public broadcasters commissioned 55 percent of titles and private broadcasters 59 percent of hours. In 2021, the BBC, Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery were the three principal commissioners of 13-or-fewer-episode-per-season series.

Nearly 1,400 production companies/groups produced at least one fiction title between 2015 and 2021, but only 6 percent of them produced at least one title in each of the last seven years. This significant turnover can be attributed to the renewal of TV series: on average, between 2015 and 2021, first seasons accounted for 51 percent of all seasons produced each year.

The Audiovisual fiction production in Europe – 2021 figures report has been published by the European Audiovisual Observatory, part of the Council of Europe in Strasbourg. It analyzes the volume of TV/SVOD fiction films and series produced in Europe and of European origin according to main acting roles, the main commissioners and producers, and the crews of screenwriters and directors involved in their creation.