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TV viewership up in European market, existing formats adapt to new normal

The crisis has influenced content production and release

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KOLKATA: With shelter-at-place directives in effect, TV consumption has gone up globally. Along with an uptick in the number of viewers, viewing time has also increased during the Covid2019 crisis.

During a presentation at Mipcom 2020, Glance VP Frédéric Vaulpré explained how the pandemic had an impact on TV audiences, and also influenced content production and release in 2020.

"All over the world, viewers have increased in number and have become more devoted to the programs that they watch," said Vaulpré.

He went on to illustrate how being made to stay indoors led to an increase in television viewing times. Five European Union countries – France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Finland – and the UK recorded a significant rise in viewing time. An increase of 7 minutes, 10 minutes, 12 minutes, 19 minutes, 23 minutes, 35 minutes was clocked in Finland, Germany, UK, Spain, France, Italy respectively in January-July 2020 compared to the corresponding period last year. People gradually being released from lockdowns did have a slight effect on TV viewing times.

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Glance head of content insight Avril Blondelot noted that 10 per cent of the productions launched in 2020 are linked, in one way or another, to the health crisis. International co-production, particularly in Europe, also witnessed an upward surge this year, nearly double compared to last year. However, there is less certainty regarding international co-production on new shows having held during the months of lockdown.

Many existing content formats had to be adapted to the new normal. With restaurants shut, chefs retreated into their homes and filmed cooking shows in their own kitchens. In France, Cyril Lignac’s Tous en Cuisine saw good uptake. Many fitness shows were also launched with in-home exercises. Non-scripted programming like reality shows also adapted to the current situation.

Among popular genres, thriller shows maintained their sheen during the pre- and post-Covid period. For instance, Netflix’s reality-bending thriller Dark (a wholly German production) was not just popular in Europe but made big waves in India too.

Despite production complications, a number of travel shows went on air and audiences, perhaps to make up for their own stymied holiday plans, eagerly tuned into these programmes. Due to international travel bans in place in many countries, travel shows turned to explore domestic locales. The Misadventures of Romesh Ranganathan, a popular travel show in the UK, was formatted to Misadventures from My Sofa. Game shows too retained their popularity.

What is a more interesting trend is that video games have emerged as a new source of inspiration for content creation. Streaming services, as well as linear TV channels, have launched shows inspired by popular gaming IPS. Netflix is ready to begin production on season 2 of its wildly popular live-action adaptation of The Witcher. Meanwhile, Amazon Prime Video and Showtime are adapting two of the most lucrative game franchises of all time – Fallout and Halo respectively.

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