TV Markets In COVID Reality. How the world and the content have changed, and what to do about all this

Published Tue, 26 October, 10:54

 It was two years ago that we last saw the largest TV content market the way it had been existing for decades: 13,000-15,000 participants from around the world, the largest industry, international cooperation, a rich program of conferences, lectures and panel discussions.

 This was followed by two long years of online meetings and events. We have learned to interact in the new reality, negotiate effectively, sell, buy and agree on content production.

 I expected a lot from the first offline event held in a long time. It was the desire to meet our partners in person and interest in the announced program of series and conferences, the opportunity to finally hear first-hand what is happening with television and platforms, which saw significant growth among viewers in different parts of the world during the pandemic.

 The reality has made significant adjustments to the event. There are no exact data, but, in my opinion, there were half as many participants as usual. Key players such as Warner Bros., NBC Universal, Disney major companies and others ignored the event. Representatives of several countries did not attend the event due to restrictions, while some may have feared large crowds of people. As a result, the partners were mainly from European countries, some were from North America and Asia. Ukraine was traditionally represented by most media groups and content producers.

 One would think that given such conditions little can impress and inspire. But in fact, this market has turned out to be a breath of fresh air in terms of meanings and formats, ideas and directions for cooperation and development.

 The COVID era made us work even harder, be more creative. Among the things I saw and heard were suggestions that many new ideas and original stories would emerge later. Market experts agree on one thing: the pandemic is the kick that everyone needs.

 Back in times of the MIPCOM market, the attention of consumers worldwide was focused on events that offered new ideas for series, documentaries, large and entertaining shows.

 The top 5 formats in terms of the number of adaptations worldwide come from Asia, such as I Can See Your Voice and The King of Masked Singer shows. The latter was successfully adapted on the TV channel “Ukraine” as The Masked Singer Ukraine.

 The project has long ceased to be just a new successful prime show. It gave rise to a whole line of entertainment formats tentatively called Masked Entertainment. Several companies have developed and continue to create new variations on this theme: Masked dances, celebrities’ families singing in masks, digitally created avatars of real heroes who stand on the stage with their prototypes, sing, dance, cry and laugh.

 All sorts of dating show variations, and dating is at the peak of popularity. At least 10 new shows. Among them, there is a project involving 12 unmarried women and a bachelor, but only half of them are interested in meeting their love, while the rest want to win a cash prize. Love triangles, dating arranged for odd people and even finding the perfect man in the past and through the centuries — all in the project. And Swedish public TV has gone even further: the project playfully named The Sexy Hands tells the story of a girl and three hearing-impaired men. She chooses them by their hands that stick out of the wall during various competitions. Well, that’s original. The popularity of dating shows tends to grow for a clear reason: lack of love, good and pleasant emotions. The pandemic has exacerbated this problem.

 Series did not add anything revolutionary or new. There are lots of stories about the difficult fate of women, domestic violence and another variation on the theme “why women kill”. There again, according to experts, it is all due to the prolonged home staying and deteriorating family relationship. Most likely, these topics will continue to concern society and, consequently, will come up again and again in various ways.

 The almost complete absence of original projects in terms of plot and freshness makes costume dramas and comedy projects stand out. The Turkish multi-series telenovela about Barbarossa — the famous pirate that lived back in the times of Suleiman the Magnificent — made an impression. Colourful fairy-tale sets drew attention to this project against the background of gloomy and hopeless stories.

 Any project that is genre-wise and stylistically different from even high-quality and high-budget ones has a better chance of success. Not to mention the high-profile South Korean series titled the Squid Game, which has set a record of being viewed on Netflix since the existence of the service. The idea is not new: survival games have always excited the audience. At the same time, the authentic Korean reality (which is interspersed with a hypertrophied bright picture with children's games, where your life is at stake) against the background of a simple and clear story of the protagonist made the project incredibly popular among subscribers worldwide.

 To sum up, I’d like to say a few words about the Ukrainian TV market, which produces thousands of hours of content every year. Lots of things are in line with global trends. I’m glad to stress that both original developments and international formats adaptations are made with due consideration of national features and the reality we live in. It seems to me that the creation of content without being dependant on international potential will be a new level. The bet on originality and national features as well as simple and clear characters and their values is the key to the success of any projects in the years to come.

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