Programming trends in 10 key global markets

MIPTV territory reports

Australia

The number of free-to-air channels in Australia has tripled in just over a year, with 15 digital terrestrial channels now on air here. As each new channel targets a specific demographic, audiences are fragmenting quickly and broadcasters are looking for big event franchises to follow the success of "MasterChef Australia" in drawing mass audiences to their main channels. Pay TV executives say its incumbent on them to sell the superior technology benefits and find more exclusive programming to their customers, as pay TV subscriptions plateau at 33% penetration in the face of the new competition. -- Pip Bulbeck

Canada

The new battleground in Canadian primetime is comedy, but it's no laughing matter. Top-rated network CTV has piggy-backed on CBS' new Thursday comedy block with the geek-friendly "The Big Bang Theory" at 8 p.m., followed in October by the William Shatner comedy "$#*! My Dad Says," going up against rival Citytv's NBC comedy lineup of "Community" and "30 Rock." Elsewhere, rival Global Television is offering the comedic one-two punch of NBC's "The Office" at 9 p.m. followed by rookie sitcom "Outsourced" at 9:30 p.m. CTV's secondary A Channel network has also embraced CBS' Monday comedy lineup, with "Two and a Half Men" at 9 p.m., followed by "Mike & Molly." Canucks like their yucks, evidently. -- Etan Vlessing

China

A senior Hollywood executive says China's television sector "has potential to dwarf theatrical," despite an 80% rise in first-half box office receipts and co-productions ramping up to meet a March WTO deadline saying Beijing must open to more overseas participation. Still, there's a film import cap and China's cinemas earn just one-tenth U.S. theaters' take. Meanwhile, on China's small screens, Hunan and Jiangsu TV lead entertainment format innovation and statecaster CCTV is the first to license an imported format with "Hole in the Wall" from Freemantle. Small-screen content is reaching 375 million households in some cases, leading to a 16% rise in 2010 ad spending, compared with a 6.6% worldwide drop. -- Jonathan Landreth

France

France's TV landscape has seen constant change this year in the wake of the global financial crisis and a restructuring of state-run networks France Television, complete with a ban on commercials. Remy Pflimlin took over Patrick De Carolis' post as CEO of France Televisions in August and immediately set up his own hand-picked team of general directors for the group's channels and ousted FTV's then-general director, Patrice Duhamel. The small-screen scene in Gaul may see an even greater shift if rival pay TV groups Canal Plus and Orange follow through on their tentative plans to merge their film channels and create a monopoly in that market. -- Rebecca Leffler

India


Despite the dominance of domestic content, niche English entertainment programming could expand here. CBS recently announced its India foray with Big CBS, an equal joint venture with Reliance Broadcast Network, which plans to launch three English channels this year taking on veteran players like News Corp.'s Star World and Sony TV's AXN, among others. English channels compete for a minuscule ad revenue pie estimated at $20 million compared with the estimated $666 million commanded by mainstream Hindi channels. Overall, the TV business is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 12.9% during the next five years, from an estimated $5.9 billion in 2009 to $10.8 billion by 2014 according to Pricewaterhouse­Coopers. -- Nyay Bhushan

Italy

In a country where six of the seven main TV networks are directly or indirectly controlled by Italy's PM Silvio Berlusconi, television news does not always appear to be independent. When Berlusconi's alleged sex scandals hit the front pages of many newspapers, Italy's main news program TG1 paid almost no attention to it. But now Enrico Mentana, who had been on Berlusconi's payroll for more than 11 years, has moved on to La7, promising to cover equally troublesome news for both government and opposition. And looking at the ratings which boosted TGLa7 from last year's 2.3% to 10.1% this year, it seems like Italians have been waiting for this moment a long time. -- Martina Riva

Japan


Ad spending is recovering after last year's brutal market though many of the big networks are forecasting losses for this year. On the programming side, Korean dramas are making a comeback as nets shift toward lower-cost content. As the July digital switchover nears and nets are looking forward to further cost savings from being able to end the current double broadcasting in analog and digital. Meanwhile, Fuji TV, which has enjoyed success with big-screen spin-offs from some of its popular dramas, is planning to move into the growing Chinese market through licensing the rights to drama series and investing in local movies. -- Gavin Blair

Singapore

In a move that underlines the significance of Singapore's MediaCorp. in the broadcasting market, its NewsAsia website has taken the No. 1 spot in the entertainment television category. In all, 17 MediaCorp. sites won awards in the Hitwise top 10 ranking. The awards are given out twice a year to the 10 most-popular sites across 160 categories. The awards are based on popularity according to the market share of user visits to sites in their respective category. The latest pride and joy in MediaCorp's Web offering, xinmsn.com, has also shown strong results since its debut in April. The key highlight for the xinmsn VOD is Catch-Up TV, where fans who missed their favorite TV shows can catch up online. -- Michael Mackey

Spain


Spain completed its transition to digital terrestrial television in April, two years ahead of most other European territories. The resulting boom in channels and DTT uptake -- 78.8% of the audience share in August -- is bolstering the Spanish TV sector. Elsewhere, the industry is also seeing big media players like Mediaset and Prisa join forces to squeeze the most out of the shrinking advertising pie. While soccer regularly tops the ratings, Spanish fiction, like "Red Eagle" or "Aida," continues to be successful in primetime. Pubcaster Television Espanola leads in audience share (15.6%), followed by Telecinco (13.5%) and Antena 3 (10.6%). -- Pamela Rolfe

United Kingdom


How do you schedule against the biggest show in town? It's a question the BBC and Channel 4 can expect to have to ask every Saturday night from now until Christmas -- or at least as long ITV's "The X Factor" continues its winning streak. Scheduling Saturday nights between 7:30 and 9:45 against the Simon Cowell-fronted juggernaut is a task that must have rivals emitting something like a Munchian scream. BBC2 has one-off specials like "The Last Night of the Proms," while the main channel, BBC1, is putting its money on drama, banking on family fantasy adventure series "Merlin" and medical drama "Casualty" to lessen the sting. Channel 4 has opted to woo the audience with a new lineup of movies aimed at the reality-shy. But the truth is that no one has really cracked it. With the unique ability to draw in new youthful demographics without alienating ITV's key audience, "X Factor" has proved itself over and over again. Now all ITV has to worry about is the possibility that Cowell won't be around next year. -- Mimi Turner
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