From catch-up to first run: European BVoD services are evolving
European broadcasters are no longer playing catch-up when it comes to first-run VoD content. While the UK remains by far the largest commissioner of new content among the European “Big 5,” it was French and German commissioners who ordered the largest number of shows straight to on-demand platforms over the past 12 months.
67% of French and German VoD commissions made between Q2 2019 and Q1 2020 came from the public broadcasters. Keen to capture the younger demographic which has been at the forefront of viewers’ migration away from linear, organisations such as European free-to-air channel ARTE and its collaborators France Télévisions, ZDF, and ARD are making concerted efforts to cultivate online platforms that can entice 18 to 34-year-olds, particularly when it comes to short-form content. Indeed, 86% of upcoming VoD commissions destined for arte.tv are short-form web series. Meanwhile, 42% of France Télévisions’ upcoming VoD commissions are short-form shows destined for platforms such as youth-skewing service France.tv Slash, and children’s content app Okoo which launched in Q4 2019.
If we view content ordered direct to VoD between Q2 2019 and Q1 2020 as a percentage of these countries’ overall first-run commissions, it is the Spanish networks who are ahead of the curve. 18% of all first-run show commissions made in the country between Q2 2019 and Q1 2020 were set to premiere on VoD platforms. Spanish public broadcaster RTVE’s youth-skewing platform Playz commissioned 4 new Unscripted shows in Q1 2020—all featuring YouTubers or social media personalities accustomed to the kind of self-shot production which has become the norm during the COVID-19 lockdown. And with lockdown accelerating the trend towards on-demand viewing, the newer Spanish OTT platforms belonging to the major network groups also look poised to benefit. Atresmedia’s Atresplayer Premium gained 110,000 subscribers in Q1 2020 following the release of high-profile originals such as La valla and Veneno. Meanwhile, Mediaset España announced that it was launching its Mitele Plus service internationally in May 2020.