Europe leads unscripted format commissions boom | Media Analysis | Business | News | Rapid TV News
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Research from Ampere Analysis has shown that Western European commissioners are driving a new surge in format production fuelling a huge uptick in commissioning of formatted shows in the past year.
Ampere formats 26Oct2020
The analyst reported that European format commissioning activity reached a high in July 2020 with 30 unscripted remakes announced in a single month. While Covid-19 has added fuel to the format fire, growing demand for shows based on successful formats began before the virus hit. From September 2019 to September 2020, Western European commissioners ordered 194 new shows based on formats.

While format activity is still largely driven by linear broadcasters, Ampere found that streamers were also increasingly turning to formats for new original production. The research showed that over the past year, linear channels globally have commissioned 263 shows based on formats, with streamers adding a further 36. Indeed the survey found that over recent years SVOD services have begun to ramp up their investment in unscripted formats, a trend which has only been accelerated by Covid-19 scripted production delays.

Ampere’s analysis showed SVOD leader Netflix to have been beefing up its unscripted slate by replicating formats across multiple territories, exploiting its expanding presence in localised production in order to target international markets with its original unscripted formats on a larger scale.

The research also showed that scripted content continued to be a motivating factor for SVOD consumers and that whilst a growth area for SVOD services, unscripted shows and formats remained a relatively small part of the overall streaming content mix. Four out of the top five favourite genres among SVOD subscribers in Q3 2020 were scripted.

Amid the Covid-19 production shutdowns, SVOD providers’ focus on unscripted content had an adverse impact on the volume of popular content ordered – Netflix commissioned an unusually low number of popular titles, with just five original series hailing from the five most popular genres. Ampere observed that Even though Apple+ launched in 2019 with a slate of originals from popular genres, it now shows evidence of building a more varied catalogue, with an increase in commissions from other genres. Just 35% of Apple original series commissioned in Q1 and Q2 2020 were from the five most popular genres compared with 57% of its current originals catalogue.

“Our recent research has shown that Netflix is beginning to invest in its original unscripted formats on an industrial scale. It’s now leveraging what is essentially a global studio infrastructure, which means they can push out carbon copies of its originals localised to different territories, while keeping costs down,” remarked Alice Thorpe, analyst at Ampere Analysis. “As Netflix is still a relatively new entrant into the unscripted formats market, it will take some time for it to see its investments pay off – however it has already seen some reward, particularly when new formats are coupled with a change in release strategy…It’s likely we’ll see increased experimentation with Netflix’s release strategy of its unscripted formats in the future.”

Ampere concluded by noting that SVOD players faced a delicate balancing act if they want to continue producing high volumes of original programming, while meeting subscriber appetites for high-quality scripted content.