Hannah Walsh, Siméon Mirzayantz, Jack Davison, and Alex Cameron
Just a week after Natpe Budapest, C21 kicked off the first edition of Content Budapest. The market aims to boost new programming relationships across Central and Eastern Europe and connect fresh creativity with international partners. The event officially started with a panel of leading industry analysts who dissected the latest data from Central Eastern Europe, highlighting defining shows, trends, and genres and looking ahead to the key drivers for change for the local and broader business over the next 12 months and beyond.
Hannah Walsh, Research manager of Ampere Analysis, kicked off her presentation by mentioning that content spending is set to see the lowest growth in over a decade in 2023, but "Central and Eastern Europe will see the second-highest growth in spend across the globe driven by global streaming services that invest in original local content," she asserted. Central and Easter Europe follow the global trends, and linear and VoD commissions show contrasting scripted programming strategies for now. "Linear commissions produced in CEE are 67% unscripted and 33% scripted, while VoD commissions produced in CEE are Scripted 79% and Unscripted 21%. On the other hand, commissions produced by platforms represent 21%," she explained. Regarding content trends and genres in the CEE region, Walsh expressed a high demand for dramas in linear channels, among romantic, crime, contemporary, and comedy genres. In the VoD sector, crime dramas are the top-demanded content, followed by comedy, romantic and modern dramas. "Due to their appeal among local and international audiences, 100 CEE-produced scripted TV shows were streamed or broadcasted internationally in April 2023. 25 % were crime dramas, 21% romantic drama; comedy-drama and romantic comedy took the 12%; the contemporary drama the 7% and the rest of the content the 24%," she detailed.
Siméon Mirzayantz, Regional business manager for CEEMEA & Southern Europe of Glance – Médiamétrie, stated that the linear TV television in the CEE region is still alive, with SVOD growth slowing down and AVOD opportunities emerging. "European viewing remains one of the highest, and the time-shifted increases but remains limited," he said. In the CEE region, TV remains dominant "despite dynamic streaming growth in the Americas," he added. Mirzayantz also showed the FAST channels as a current trend. "They are still emerging," he said. "There is an increasing platform number like Tubi, Pluto, Xumo, Freeve, Roku, itvX, RokutenTV, and they are so popular because they are free, easy to use, they are related to well-known brands and starting to invest in content," he said. The Glance executive also affirmed that the key takes away for Easter Europe in the future is sustainable growth through optimum windowing. "The region is open to foreign content; the success of this content peaked at 20% of the top 10 best audiences in 2021," he explained. "To maximize the revenue, we have to consider further windows from current and canceled shows, co-windowing, and multiple windows between streaming and linear TV," he affirmed. "The foreign acquisitions represent 57% of all launches in the Czech Republic, Poland, Romania, and Ukraine," he detailed. Lastly, Mirzayantz talked about the new product opportunities and mentioned the Japan-Polish production "Cyberpunk: Edgerunners" based on a videogame and available on Netflix, the American-Polish production "The Thaw" available on HBO Max, and the HBO Max Original "Bring Back Alice." "The launch of Central and Eastern shows in the streaming platforms is very strong," he said. "The variety shows, the reality competition, and the game shows are also prevalent," Mirzayantz noted. He listed "Deal or no Deal,"; "Beat the Chasers," and "Who Knew?" as the more famous.
Jack Davison, EVP from 3Vision, affirmed that US TV series distribution has significantly evolved over the last five years, with 86% for SVOD platforms, 3% for Free TV, and 10% for Pay TV in 2022/2023. "The distribution of US shows in CEE is changing like the rest of the world," he said. As an example, Davison mentioned that 78% of US shows premiering in Poland in 2023 were on Studio owned services," he noted. On the other hand, "Studio TV series distribution shifted from 2020 with the D2C revolution and the Studios slowed in 2022 and despite the returning to third party sales still pipeline," he mentioned. For Davison, the key to follow is how the flows adjust throughout 2023 and beyond. "The competition is intense, and there isn't one global blueprint," he said.
The panel was finalized with Alex Cameron, Director, EMEA at Parrot Analytics, who explored the current content trends and stood out the rising demand for local content. "A 5-year look at the global share of demand by genre illustrates a shift of genre preferences over time," he expressed. "There are increases in the share of demand since 2018 primarily from Animation (gains in Anime, losses in Animated Comedies), the Documentary and Children genres experience marginal gains, and Reality and Comedy are decreasing," he illustrated. At a regional level, Cameron said that Sci-Fi and Kids' content exhibits high demand levels, whereas Reality has hit saturation. Regarding the travel ability of the shows, the Parrot executive mentioned that content from Turkey and Israel shows both high local demand and high travel ability to other markets. Meanwhile, Romania and Czechia are showing potential room for growth and attracting international viewers. Cameron also highlighted that knowing a show's audience consumption affinities is critical to understanding its competitive and strategic value. He showed the revenue of Netflix shows 41 weeks after the season 1 premiere. Squid Game' is first on the list at $128, followed by 'Stranger Things at $106; 'Bridgerton' at $95; 'The Umbrella Academy' at $95; 'Money Heist' at $76; 'The Crown' at $43, and 'Ozark' at $40". "We can now assign a value to content and it can have a different value depending on the platform and the market," he detailed.
The event also offered a panel discussion dedicated to Ukraine Content Club, focusing on its documentary slate. Victoria Yarmoshchuk, CEO of FILM.UA Group, explained how Ukraine Content Club was created. "The main purpose of this union between FILM UA, 1+1 Media, Starlight Media, and Suspilne Ukraine is to find the best Ukraine projects with international appeal and international partners to develop them," she said. "We need to deliver to the world the message that there are great projects from our country, and we want just to be heard," she added.
The UCC documentary lineup includes "The Evil Empire," "Russian Warship F*ck You! Decisive Battle", "Risen from the Ashes," "The Imaginary Worlds of Stanislav Lem," "For Life," and "Wedding during the War." Yarmoshchuk presented "Risen From Ashes" (8x45'), a documentary series "very relevant to us today because it is about how to rebuild our country," she mentioned. "We are looking for partners, distributors, and people who want to join us," she added. FILM UA CEO also talked about "The Imaginary Worlds of Stanislav Lem," about the famous writer. "People from Ukraine and people living outside the country don't know much about him.," she admitted.
Ivan Bukreev, Head of Content Development 1+1 Media, featured Russian "Warship F*ck You! Decisive Battle", a two-part documentary that tells the stories of Ukrainian heroes, civilians, and militaries fighting in the war. The executive also pitched "The Evil Empire," a six-part documentary about the Russian and Soviet empires. Olena Sikan, Head of Sales and Acquisitions Suspilne, presented "For Life," a film showing the crossed lines between Ukraine and Europe, and "Wedding during the War." "In Ukraine are more weddings than before the war," she mentioned. During the session, three documentary projects were announced to be developed under the UCC umbrella. They were "Russian Warship F*ck You! Decisive Battle" from 1+1 Media, "Risen from the Ashes" from FILM UA, and "Wedding during the War" from Suspilne. "We will produce them next year and present them in the international markets," said Victoria Yarmoshchuk.
Content Budapest was the perfect scenario to present the new Latin American productions for the CEE region. Three of the largest content producers and distributors from the region, TelevisaUnivision (Mexico/USA), Globo (Brazil), and Caracol TV (Colombia), presented their top shows for Content Budapest. Claudia Sahab, Director of Europe from TelevisaUnivision, commented that they produce premium series content for their platform Vix. "They are totally different from our telenovelas," she affirmed. The executive introduced three of these premium series, "Montecristo" starring William Levy, "Travesuras de la niña mala" based on Mario Vargas Llosa's book, and "Mas allá de ti," a thriller with supernatural elements.
Paloma García Cuesta, International sales director of Europe and Africa at Caracol TV, affirmed that the company wants to explore all the needs and trends in the different territories in the CEE region. Caracol TV has already proven hits programs like "The White Slave," "Pablo Escobar," "Bolivar," "La Reina del Flow," and "Sin tetas no hay paraiso," among others, and in the panel, García Cuesta introduced the new ones, two new fictions "Romina Power," and "Ventino, the price of glory" alongside the entertainment format "La descarga" (The Download") that it was already optioned in Spain and Portugal. "We have another format, 'El Desafio,' that has strong success in Nova TV in Bulgary," .she added. On the other hand, she pointed out a collaboration with the Polish company Golden Media with Caracol Production Union to produce three realities in Colombia. "We don't only sell the best Colombian content worldwide, but also we are the perfect partner for those looking for production services," she highlighted.
Gabriel Doria, Content Distribution and partnerships manager-Europe Globo, stated that Globo stories are universal, with topics like love, betrayal, and revenge that relate to every person. He also mentioned Globo's recent coproduction deal with Disney to coproduce four feature films and the strategic agreement with TelevisaUnivision to expand Globoplay's content distribution with las estrellas and ViX+ Originals. Doria introduced the TV series "The Others," which premiered on the Globo platform, and the telenovela "Never Give Up."
By Romina Rodríguez from Budapest