American fiction still ‘dominates’ European TV screens


American fiction still “overwhelmingly dominates” European television screens, but the European productions are increasing their market share, found a new study published earlier this week.

While American programming is “on the decline” in Europe, European television productions and European films have increased their presence in TV schedules across the continent, according to the second volume of the European Audiovisual Observatory’s 2008 yearbook, ‘Trends in European television’. 

The survey covered TV series, TV films, feature films, short films and animated films broadcast by 124 channels across 13 European countries. 

It found that European fiction in all formats had a 39.1% share of EU schedules in 2007, the study’s reference year, up from 37.6% in 2006 and 36.1% in 2005. Meanwhile, non-European programmes’ market share fell to 60.9% (from 62.4% and 63.9% respectively). 

US works still dominant…

Nevertheless, US works continue to dominate the market, filling close to 60% of series and soap-opera schedules, 55.7% of feature films, 49.3% of TV films and 45.4% of animations. 

The figure for European fiction breaks down into exclusively national fiction (14.7%), non-national European fiction (10.4%), inter-European co-productions (4.3%) and European co-productions with third countries (9.7%).

…but Europe’s share is growing 

European films saw the most significant increases, but variations persisted according to format. Short films’ share of the market soared to 70.6% (from 56.9% in 2006), followed by animated films. European TV films and series also recorded minor increases. 

The study shows that exclusively national fiction is increasing its share “to the detriment of non-national European fiction,” while the proportion of European co-productions with third countries “grew significantly”. 

But there are huge variations from country to country within the EU. In France, for example, over half of the fiction works broadcast in 2007 were European (56.5%), while in Sweden and Denmark the figure was less than a third (29.3% and 19%). The share of exclusively national works is largest in France and the United Kingdom. 

Nevertheless, the survey found that “the circulation of European works outside their national markets has continued to improve,” with feature-length and short films circulating better than other formats. 

The second volume of the European Audiovisual Observatory's (EAO) 2008 yearbook, 'Trends in European television', was published on 24 March. 

Media services firm Infomedia analysed the origin of fiction programmes on the EAO's behalf, including TV series, TV films, feature films, short films and animated films broadcast by 124 channels across 13 European countries in 2007. 

Last summer, the European Commission announced it was exploring ways of increasing the share of European films in extra-EU markets to counter the dominance of Hollywood (EURACTIV 11/06/08), primarily through the 'Media International' initiative (EURACTIV 27/06/08) approved by MEPs in December. 

A previous EAO study had found that European co-productions are released in more EU countries and fare better at the box office than their entirely national counterparts (EURACTIV 16/09/08). 

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