EBU members eye Nordic 12 expansion & highlight ‘pre-buy network’ as streamers face squeeze

Conecta Fiction in Toledo

European Broadcasting Union (EBU) members have urged producers to consider the organisation’s ‘pre-buy network’ when looking for drama funding, particularly with the financial squeeze affecting streamers.

The EBU-backed scheme allows producers to pitch their shows to members of the organisation, which represents 112 organisations in 54 countries, allowing them to then use their collective budgets to get shows off the ground.

Elly Vervloet

“As smaller buyers, we understand that producers might not want to give up rights to one smaller country and jeopardise a broader global deal with a streamer,” said Elly Vervloet, international drama exec at Belgium’s VRT & EBU coordinator.

“If we join forces, however, we can do it together and that can make a big difference,” added the exec, who was speaking at Conecta Fiction in Toledo.

Vervloet pointed to the success of the European collective Nordic 12, which was launched in 2018 by Denmark’s DR, NRK in Norway, Sweden’s SVT, RÚV in Iceland and YLE in Finland. They aim to order 12 premium scripted series across drama and comedy annually.

“Such regional partnerships are really leading the way and it is great to see that when they come to the pre-buy network, they are also acquiring as a whole. That is a strong force and it’s something we are looking to explore to see if we can work more closely together.”

‘Shifting market’ & thrilling demands

Vervloet made a call for “to other broadcasters and producers to come onboard,” adding that the initative made increasing sense at a time when US-based streamers have been cutting back on spending.

“We can really make a difference and for broadcasters, it makes it easier again now particularly with the market shifting so quickly. The US market has a problem, there is a saturation and they have economic issues, they are selling shows but that might change next year, but we have a great model here.”


Marek Solon-Lipinski, director of international relations for TVP in Poland, added that the Nordic 12 proved such schemes could work while also outlining requirements for his organisation.

Period dramas around the 19th and 20th Century remain key, he said, with José Fragoso, programme director for RTP in Portugal, outlining similar demands, along with thrillers.

Fragoso said RTP commissions 12 scripted shows per year, each with 8-10 episodes, but said authentic voices were the focus.

“We must make sure we construct European fiction and not American. We have so much diversity here, we have the Nordics, Iberia, CEE and we must make sure we keep that diversity that Europe offers.”

VRT, Vervloet added, requires first window in Belgium – even if a streamer wants to join the show – and said it would also retain co-exclusive rights to a show so it could remain on both VRT’s on demand service and the OTT service. VRT’s recent output has ranged from Lost Luggage and Two Summers to Under Fire and Arcadia.

“And we also really try to keep our branding in our own territory,” she add, “we really want to have the VRT ident when the show is in our own country.”

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