Value of drama imports into Europe crashes by US$1bn

The value of drama series imported into Europe has fallen by US$1 billion in recent years, according to research published today.

The cumulative value of scripted series bought by Europe’s free-to-air broadcasters fell 16% in the 2008 – 2012 period, a study from ETS, Madigan Cluff and Digital TV Research says.

The total dipped below US$6 billion in 2009 and declined again in 2009 before leveling off in 2011 when overall programme import revenue was US$5.8 billion. However, there was a US$378 million year-on-year decline last year with the 2012 total US$5.4 billion.

Report author Michael Cluff said the sharp decline last year can be attributed to cost cutting as the TV advertising market suffered and by channels moving drama imports to their secondary services.

“Two-thirds of the fall can be explained by lower income generated by advertising and state grants/license fees,” Cluff said. “The reminder of the drop seems to come from a combination of cash strapped channels cutting the easiest external costs and the longer term gradual movement of hours out of the high share channels and into secondary channels.”

There is a smaller change in the number of hours of imported drama series on air in Europe, with the 2008-2012 total down just 2%, underlining the fact these shows are commanding smaller license fees as they get shifted to smaller, digital channels.

Last year Italy was the top country by value created from imported drama series in 2012, closely followed by Germany. France was third and the top three generated 55% of all imported drama revenue.

The Imported Drama Series in Europe study measured 119 channels across 21 territories and analysed 1,600 series. The value is calculated from advertising revenues received when screening these programs or a proportion of funding to public broadcasters.

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