Three-fifths of scripted releases at risk of delay through coronavirus | Media Analysis | Business
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In what it calls the Covid commissioning hangover, Ampere Analysis reveals that audiences and the industry can expect disruption to the supply and release of new content for over a year as a result of production delays caused by the pandemic.
Ampere covid production 19May2020
The analysis indicates that as well as up to 60% of scripted projects facing a delay, a further 5%-10% of 2020’s scripted schedule may be lost entirely. In addition, even though the unscripted market should more easily weather the current pandemic thanks to the production of non-location-based, and Covid-related, content, Ampere cautions that the delay of summer blockbusters like The Bachelorette and Love Island will have a negative impact on even the unscripted sector.

Indeed Ampere calculates that over half of scripted titles which would normally have released in the second half of 2020 are at risk of delays in release schedules due to the current production hiatus. Titles scheduled for release from June to August are likely to largely be in post-production, and Ampere expects delays to be more limited for this period. The analyst predicts that the scripted sector will take a far bigger hit: even if production is able to restart in June, underlying effects of the shutdown will be felt in the scripted TV market for the remainder of 2020, and well into 2021.

In its research, Ampere said that the proportion of scripted releases unaffected by the shutdown will only rises above 40% by March 2021.

Comparing to 2019, only 51% of scripted projects ordered during March-May 2019 have been released to date. With commissioning of scripted content down by 40% in the equivalent period of 2020, Ampere predicts the current lack of commissions will impact the supply of content well into 2021. By contrast, While a number of unscripted commissions expected over Q2 and Q3 2020 will be delayed, Ampere predicts release schedules will begin to return to normal by the Autumn, with the percentage of titles unaffected rising to 71% by October 2020.

Striking another word of caution, Ampere said that a large proportion of unscripted titles have been Covid-19-specific commissions. If this content is excluded, unscripted commissions have been down 27% since the beginning of March.

Moreover it observed that commissioners are currently creating a large number of extra unscripted projects which can be used to cover gaps in the schedule left by delayed titles or the missed scripted commissions. This number of extra commissions will it said begin to wane as the shutdown ends, with audience appetite for Covid-19-specific content already showing signs of falling. 

“There is one certainty among the current uncertainty – that the Covid-19 pandemic will change the TV production industry far beyond the end of the lockdown,” said Ampere Analysis senior analyst Fred Black. “Initially, we expect delays to cause gaps in scripted TV release schedules, which broadcasters and streaming players will have to fill with other content. However, as delayed productions begin to fill out content gaps in later months, these gaps will begin to close. But this has further ramifications. The knock-on effect of delayed releases is a likely depression of the number of new commissions for some time after the shutdown ends, as commissioners look to fill schedules with delayed projects they have already invested in before signing off new ones.”