Soap still sells, says study

Fiction is still the king.

That‘s the verdict of a French study that indicates that of the 1117 new shows launched between September 2001 and May 2002 in eight key television markets, over 40 per cent belonged to the popular genre of fiction.

According to data released by French audience measurement and survey company Mediametrie, Eurodata TV and IMCA, the eight countries covered (UK, the Netherlands, France, Germany, Italy, Australia, the US and Spain) had 13 per cent of all new shows in the reality soap and game show genre. While the broadcast rate of new reality TV programmes remained at the same level as the previous season, the distribution by country remained uneven.

UK‘s Pop Idol was one of the few winners in the reality genre

The survey has been done by New On The Air (NOTA), an offspring of Eurodata TV and IMCA and is a system for continually detecting and monitoring the launch of new fiction, entertainment and factual television programmes. In Germany, none of the six new reality shows launched this

season appear on the list of 15 best new shows of the year, while ZDF‘s Die Affaire Semmeling turned in the new blockbuster soap of the season. In the US too, the big losers in the autumn stir were the new reality TV programmes like Love Cruise, Lost and No Boundaries. CBS‘ Big Brother and Fox‘s American Idol however continued their duel for the top spot in the States, even as fiction remained the dominant genre accounting for 76.1 per cent of new programmes. ABC‘s Dinotopia stayed at the top of the heap among fiction shows.

Spain‘s Yo Soy Betty La Fea was one of the big winners

Spain too is fond of its soaps. The Columbian soap opera Yo Soy Betty La Fea was the best show on Antena 3 for the period, while Operacion Triunfo on TVE1 and the third season of Gran Hermano on Tele5 were trumps this year.

UK experimented with the largest number of new factual programmes (48.3 per cent) including BBC‘s Blue Planet and Walking with Beasts and reality type historical re-enactments like The Edwardian Country House and The Trench. ITV was instrumental in raising the number of soaps on radio networks to nine with the launch of Night and Day. UK however showed a high degree of tolerance for the reality genre making a success of shows like Pop Idol, Soapstars, Fat Club and the third season of Big Brother.

Fact more popular than fiction - BBC‘s Blue Planet held its own against soaps

Making a qualitative analysis of the kind of heroes portrayed in the shows, NOTA observes that whether it be a hero, anti hero, lawyer, police officer or neighbour, it is the human element that comes through most shows.

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