MIA 2023: Italy invested €1.8 billion in original productions in 2022

The last day of the Roman event took place the 5th Report of the APA about the investment and growth of the audiovisual industry, highlighting the strong place of the entertainment and the increment of documentaries and kids content.


Platforms and Italian broadcasters' executives


On the last day of MIA | Mercato Internazionale Audiovisivo, the President of the Italian Audiovisual Producers Association (APA), Chiara Sbarigia, presented the 5th Report on Italian Audiovisual Production. The Report showed that the total value of investments in original Italian productions (of all genres) is €1,800 million and that investments on linear platforms (free and pay) were about €1 billion in 2022. Sbarigia said, "The steady growth of the online component is now worth almost a third of the TV component. Films and series for TV and fiction VOD constitute the main genre in terms of investments (55%), but we have seen significant growth in documentaries and animation, mainly in the VOD segment."

As for entertainment, the 2022/2023 season saw an increase in hours, with 16,855 hours of first run offerings on linear networks, a figure that signals a recovery of +7% compared to the previous season. Data from OTT services were also positive, showing an increase, compared to the previous season, in both hours (+5%) and titles (+9%), rewarding in particular the independent production model (+24% in titles and +30% in hours). Adaptations from international formats grew both in terms of titles (+11%) and in terms of hours (+39%), thanks in particular to the Talent, Reality, Dating, and Factual genres. While remaining marginal, the presence of domestic products sold abroad as formats also marks a slight improvement over previous seasons, with two more titles among Made in Italy formats.

On the Documentary sector, President Sbarigia states, “growth can be noted in terms of hours (555, +4%) against a slight decrease in titles (231, -1%). There is a slight decrease in the number of contents broadcast by linear networks (183, -9%), but an increase in the number of hours in the programming schedule (442, +5%). While the increase in docu-titles for OTT platforms is significant (48, +41%), which however focus on shorter formats, with a substantial holding of hours (93, -2%)." In relation to Kids TV, the report shows that animation accounts for three-quarters of the offer, but the genre that grows the most is scripted (films and TV series). Productions or co-productions with a significant role in national production companies account for 15% of the kids' offer.

In the Scripted offering, seriality prevails with 56 titles (48%) and 548 hours (79%), which remains stable and favors the ‘short series’ format, which is more widespread among OTT. From a genre perspective, Drama is growing slightly (+4 titles, +3% hours) and prevails over Comedy (-3 titles, -10% hours vs 2021/2022). Among sub-genres, there is a boom in Teen & Coming of Age content (+11 titles, +62% hours), which is more prevalent in drama and predominant in OTT catalogs. "As for employment figures," she concluded, "almost 117,000 workers are involved in audiovisual activities. Compared to 2021 figures, there is an overall dynamic of +4.7%. The self-employed component is the item that registers the highest result (+9.8%), followed by employees outside the perimeter (+8.6%), directors (+2.4%), and employees (+0.6%), while entrepreneurs are substantially stationary.

Lucia Borgonzoni, Undersecretary of State to the Ministry of Culture; Tinny Andreatta, Vice President Italian Originals, Netflix; Antonella d’Errico, Executive Vice President Content di Sky Italia; Antonella Dominici, Senior Vice President Streaming South Europe Middle East & Africa, Paramount+ and Pluto TV; Giampaolo, Rossi, General Manager, RAI and Gina Nieri, Executive Director Mediaset discussed about the current audiovisual landscape in Italy and their main challenges. "Italy is certainly one of the most interesting countries for Netflix," remarked Tinny Andreatta who also added that the streamer has made important investments in the country during the past, but since Netflix opened an office in Rome, "the management is an Italian, and we have constructed a slate for the future. The diversity of contents and the importance of local content with respect to the offer are a key for us," she said. She spoke about the diversification of the content with, for example, "Il Gattopardo", but also productions at lower costs that have an element of strong originality and serve a different audience. "They are very important for us," she commented. Andreatta also referred to the relevance of the original films to Netflix, like "'Il treno dei bambini', adapted from Viola Ardone's novel and directed by Cristina Comencini, and also the docuseries like "Wanna". "The docuseries of Netflix are not only factual, but also opens up questions that the audience must fill on their own, and therefore also challenging it in some way," she admitted. Lastly, Andreatta mentioned the investment in non-scripted like "Rhythm + Flow Italia" and young adult animation with "Zerocalcare." Another concept developed by Andreatta was market saturation, thanks to the competition and the large amount of content.  She expressed that the competition is very healthy and leads to creativity and faster development of things but, on the other hand, can be problematic. "Clearly, it has created a disordered growth and a lack of human capital, talent, and team. It is very important to have a common project of growth that looks at the quality of the content rather than the quantity, and therefore that allows a healthy growth, and that strengthens the sharing as much as possible," she affirmed.

Antonella D’Errico commented that Sky is celebrating its 20th anniversary, and Italy remains a central country for the Comcast group and for Sky. "In the last 10 years, Sky has invested in content, productions, purchases, and rights, about 15 billion euros, of which 75% in Italy, so more than 11.5 billion euros," she detailed. D’Errico also spoke about the double business of Sky, the programming and linear channels, and the on-demand part. Two years ago, Sky launched four new thematic channels, Sky Documentaries, Sky Nature, Sky Series, and Sky Investigations, and now, in November, it will launch Sky Crime. "There will be a large investment on original productions in Italy," she affirmed. Talking about the global travel of the Italian original productions, D’Errico asserted that what has certainly proven to be very successful for the Italian creative industry is, on the one hand, quality and on the other, the ability to focus on Italian themes that can be very interesting abroad. "Some examples of that are the film 'L’ultima notte di Amore' an Italian crime thriller film written and directed by Andrea Di Stefano, or 'Adagio', a film from Stefano Sollima, which has great potential abroad," she illustrated.

Paramount+ arrived in Italy last year and "being the last one have the pros and cons of streaming," affirmed Antonella Dominici, Senior Vice President of Streaming South Europe, Middle East & Africa, Paramount+, and Pluto TV. "The cons are that you are in a hurry, and you have to try to recover the land that others have already gained in previous years. The pros are that you enter a market, but you see the experience of others before you, so you have lessons that you can use from others," she explained. The executive said Paramount + ambition is to entertain the entire family, so "the goal is to offer a consolidate catalog that comes from the United States, with very strong IPs, serial content, and very well -known unscripted and integrate it with local productions," she said. One of the Italian original productions of Paramount is "Circeo", a co-production with Cattleya and Rai Fiction. "It was a beautiful opportunity to see an Italian story told in a way totally linked to the legal development of that story, the opportunity to influence civil society in general, starting from an unfortunate case, but it has become an opportunity to reflect on a much broader phenomenon, which was that of violence against women," she said. Paramount also launched "Corpo Libero," another co-production with a crime story behind it, special programs like "Francesco il Cantico" with Roberto Benigni, and films like "Ti mangio il cuore" or the recently announced "Miss Fallaci," about writer and journalist Oriana Fallaci. "These stories enrich us because they try to tell Italy is very varied," she said.

The executives from broadcasters who participated in the panel were less optimistic about the current audiovisual landscape and exposed their current problems and challenges. "The audiovisual market, after the extremely positive rebound that followed the COVID season, is in a waiting phase. The operators, the producers, but also the institutional and regulatory dynamics, they want to understand how they have to move to enhance the Italian audiovisual market," asserted Giampaolo Rossi, General Manager, Rai.He also remarked RAI continues to be central in the audiovisual market due to its public series' function. "RAI has always played this role and continues to play it with great effort, especially with the reduction of the economic resources," said Rossi. "Today, Rai invests about 180-190 million in fiction, 140 in cinema, 6-7 million in documentary," he added. Another topic analysed by Rossi was the collaboration with the digital platforms. "It is true that we have entered into a competition mechanism where platforms are an element of disintermediation compared to linear television, but this element can also have a positive outcome". On the other hand, Rosse outlined that global players invest in national markets but can sometimes be cyclical. "The public service of a country invests in a stable way to meet the need for that market to develop, to build and to maintain in time, so on this institutional stakeholders have to help us by modifying some aspects of the regulations, and giving the public service sufficient resources," he concluded.

From Mediaset's point of view, Gina Nieri, Executive Director at the company said that the Italian State invests less than other countries in the audiovisual industry. "There is a problem of the amount of investment that our country dedicates to the national audiovisual, so, there is a pressure, certainly, on the type of resources, she expressed. Another problem exposed by Nieri was the competition, which has been very strong in recent years. "Now, in production, there are great multinationals that come with a very important firepower, so the competition has certainly increased, and we are the only country that, by the way, has both the obligation of programming of a certain percentage and the obligation of investing in independent producers. So, we have a fairly robust situation in terms of obligations," she explained. As a broadcaster, said Nieri, Mediaset has invested 20 billion in the last ten years in the production of content. "We have a competitive difficulty because the entry of the large platforms has disrupted the type of financing and market that comes to us. For the first time this year, the total advertising collected by traditional media is less than what comes from the platforms and the over-the-top. So, there is a big problem of financing in our sector," she affirmed.

To wrap up the panel, Lucia Borgonzoni, Undersecretary of State to the Italian Ministry of Culture, affirmed that they are working on a different tax credit system, as well as working on new norms. "I believe that this is a system capable of taking that small step back to make a big step forward altogether, and this is the moment when there is a great challenge," she said. She also admitted the funds for the TV system have to be raised but the entire Italian economy has slowed down.

The section Meet the Commissioner" has another episode. Giovanni Bossetti, Manager for Italy of the Non-Fiction area at Netflix, commented the audiovisual industry is living an unprecedented offer of content. "This context is, on the one hand, a positive element; on the other hand, it makes the scenario more complex; it becomes, every time, more crucial to find the right story, the kind of story that can engage and surprise the viewer," he reflected. Bossetti said that Netflix is looking for projects that have a strong link with Italy. "Our request is to focus on the Italian audience because we still felt the need to establish a relationship with our subscribers, so to speak directly to them," he asserted. "For sure, we are interested in Italian stories, Italian characters, that are known and recognizable by our subscribers," he added. In that line, the executive mentioned Netflix's unscripted projects that had and still have a great impact on the audience, such as "Vatican Girl," "SanPa,"; "El Principe," and one of the more recently, "Wanna." "What happened with these projects is a proof that the relationship with the public regarding the documentary offer has formed and is consolidating. That's the main satisfaction for us," he commented. Bossetti also said that crime will remain a great opportunity to tell stories, and music was a happy attempt that Netflix wanted to make and it managed to do with "Vasco Rossi - Il supervissuto", the documentary series about the Italian rock star. "Sport is another area that allows you to have an impact in the story, but in reality, it is the way in which we will tell these stories what makes the difference," he concluded.

The 9th edition of MIA | Mercato Internazionale Audiovisivo, directed by Gaia Tridente, had an attendance increase compared to the 2022 edition, with 2,600 participants from 66 countries around the world (+10% more countries than in 2022). MIA is also growing on social media, with a +14% increase in followers on Facebook and a nearly 30% increase on Linkedin. The accredited press also increased: 190 journalists (+19% compared to 2022), of which 27 were international, wrote over 800 articles published in major international and Italian outlets (+37% compared to 2022). The 7 rooms at Cinema Barberini were always full, as was Palazzo Barberini, where over 80 panels and events, 5 content showcases, 4 pitching forums, over 60 market screenings, and film presentations were held. Key industry players participating in MIA took part in international co-production market meetings where international distributors met with theatrical buyers on the two floors of Palazzo Barberini, which were completely sold out. Also, at Palazzo Barberini, MIA presented the new Tech Pavillion, a space dedicated to technological innovation with daily meetings and Virtual Production presentations in which the conferences of the MIA XR program were also held. Participants enjoyed fully immersive and Virtual Reality experiences in this space.

By Romina Rodriguez, from Rome

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