Europe, South America Overtake North America in Global TV Consumption

Last year proved transformational for television, and one of the most surprising outcomes is that North America is no longer the largest region globally for daily TV consumption.

According to a Glance (Global Audience & Content Evolution) presentation at MipTV, both Europe and South America have now overtaken North America in this regard.

“Globally you see that TV consumption remains very stable since 1982. The difference comes from the different regions,” explained Glance VP Frédéric Vaulpré. “What is striking is to see that now, the number one region in terms of TV consumption is Europe, followed by South America.”

Average global daily TV consumption last year stood at the two hours and 54 minutes mark, per Glance’s research, which represents a six-minute increase on the 2019 average. Of particular interest is the fact that the young adult demographic was up two minutes versus the prior year, perhaps a surprise given YA viewing habits. However, it remains to be seen whether that increase will be sustained once lockdowns are eased and co-viewing potentially becomes less of a factor.

Looking at where that global increase came from, the Glance presentation pointed to Europe as the region with the largest increase (an average of 15 minutes per day), while North America saw a decline in daily TV consumption last year (down eight minutes on average). However, the U.S. did register a 10% TV viewing bump in April 2020, coinciding with the earliest enforcement of social distancing measures across the country.

Switching to the SVOD track, the Glance presentation (citing a Nielsen study) showed the U.S. as being up roughly 10% in SVOD minutes viewed from the previous year. Meanwhile France almost doubled the number of viewed minutes on Netflix in 2020.

“The Queen’s Gambit” was clearly a key piece in driving the rise in European SVOD usage. Anya-Taylor Joy’s wildly popular chess drama was the most-viewed Netflix series in Q4 in four of the continent’s largest markets (the U.K., Spain, Germany and Italy). Meanwhile “The Crown” claimed the Netflix throne in France, where “Queen’s Gambit” came third (just behind “How to Get Away With Murder,” which didn’t feature in any other top 5). “Emily in Paris” made the Q4 top 5 in Spain, Germany and Italy, but didn’t quite make the cut in the U.K. or France.

The second half of the Glance presentation zeroed in on last year’s strongest series launches and what trends can be gleaned from them.

Acquired series fared better than local originals in a good deal of markets, according to Avril Blondelot, Glance’s insight director. Whereas the top local launches across 32 of the largest global territories were down around 18% in average rating, the launch ratings for top acquired series in virtually the same territories were up 97% compared with the previous year.

Blondelot pointed to cop series (like Sweden’s “Bäckström”), political dramas (like the U.K.’s “The Salisbury Poisonings”), and escapist dramas (such as Italy’s “Live and Let Live”) as three of the TV genres which traveled best in 2020.

On the unscripted front, the strongest format around the world last year wasn’t very difficult to un-mask.

“‘The Masked Singer’ continues to roll out across countries with very strong success,” said Blondelot. “It’s appearing as the top launch in three countries, and in 12 countries it was one of the best five format launches of the year.”

Casting a glance forward, Blondelot pointed to the fact that 40% of the top launches in 2020 premiered in Q1, meaning that a good deal of the biggest hits for 2021 have already reached our screens.

If that’s the case, then darkly complex cop stories and cold case dramas could be de rigueur in 2021, given the large audiences delivered by “The Promise” in France and “The Pembrokeshire Murders” in the U.K.

The intersection of game shows and social media could be a lucrative, if unlikely area for networks to explore going forward, given the success of “Hot Songs vs New Songs,” the top launch of 2021 so far in China. The show pits TikTok creators who are already popular on the platform against newcomers to see who can create the biggest hit song.

“With this show, you have the best of two worlds: You have the emotions, you have everything you can find in a reality competition, and you have TikTok creators coming in with their fanbases,” Blondelot said. “You have everything that is both made for TV and is organic, true to the digital world.”



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