Imported and co-produced scripted series make headway in the national primetime rankings
In the 2018-2019 season, imported and co-produced shows were especially numerous among the best performing scripted series. Acquisitions from English-speaking countries, both old and new, were particularly successful. Meanwhile, coproductions soared as producers European countries successfully collaborated beyond traditional ties and American studios found inspiration in Europe.
In the 13 markets studied in the Scripted Series Report 2019*, the best performing scripted series are mostly locally-produced. Still, the 2018-2019 season was quite favourable to international cooperation. The growth of original content slowed, and more imported and co-produced series reached the national rankings of primetime scripted series.
Imported series from the US and the UK rise in Continental Europe
21 imported series ranked among one of the studied countries’ top 15 scripted series in the 2018-2019 season; this is four more than last season. Imports ranked in the same 8 countries, and Sweden’s ranking was the one where their number increased the most.
This growth was mainly driven by imports from the UK and USA, which were proportionally more heavily featured than in the 2017-2018 season. Indeed, apart from traditional regional specificities (a Ukrainian programme ranking in Russia and Nordic programmes performing well in other Nordic countries), the only programme that was neither from the USA or the UK is the established hit Vikings on History, a Canadian-Irish production.
These imports were a mix of new launches and established hits. 6 were new launches, which, for the most part, travelled quickly: Manifest, which ranked in France and Spain, Manhunt in Sweden and A Wedding, A Funeral and A Christening in Denmark, were all launched in these countries in the same season as in their home countries (the USA, the UK and Sweden, respectively).
Among the older imported series that ranked, a clear divide emerged between Northern and Southern Europe. Classic UK hits such as Victoria, Call the Midwife and Endeavour ranked in Denmark, Sweden and the Netherlands, while the imports that ranked in France, Italy and Spain rather came from the previous season’s US network TV launches: The Good Doctor, S.W.A.T.
European and American co-productions reach the top spots
Co-produced scripted series were also increasingly successful. The volume of co-produced series broadcast increased by 17% (excluding US-Mexican co-productions, which account for a sizable share but significantly declined in 2018-2019). Furthermore, 18 co-productions reached one of the studied countries’ national ranking, compared with only 12 last season. More than half were new launches.
This is all the more impressive considering that co-productions are only 4% of the main channels’ scripted programming. Co-productions are perhaps more likely to succeed as they are often high-profile projects whose budget is substantially increased by the participation of several companies, and which benefit from the added visibility of an international rollout.
Among them, European co-productions especially increased, and not only between countries which already have a long-standing culture of collaboration due to linguistic or geographical ties (German- or French-speaking countries, the Nordics). The volume of co-productions going beyond these historic ties nearly doubled. Some projects that ranked high were The Name of the Rose (Italy/Germany/France), The Crimson Rivers (Germany/France) and Sisters 1968 (Sweden/Poland).
Also growing were collaborations between American and European producers: this season’s crop, My Brilliant Friend and The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair, made with Italy and France respectively, both stemmed from a literary source. Teaming up with producers from these countries was a way for HBO and MGM to ensure an authentic feel for viewers in the countries where the book first achieved success.
*Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands, Russia, Spain, Sweden, Turkey, the UK, the US Networks and the US Cable market.