CBS Becomes Top TV Distributor of Imported Drama in Europe For 2011

Sonja Flemming/CBS

Warner Bros. beaten into second place despite ongoing popularity of “The Mentalist” and “Two And A Half Men” with European broadcast buyers.

LONDON – CBS is Europe’s top TV distributor of imported drama series in 2011 with hit shows NCIS and CSI proving popular with broadcasters across the continent, according to a report.

CBS snatched the top slot from Warner Bros. despite the continuing popularity of The Mentalist, Nip & Tuck and Two and a Half Men with continental broadcast acquisition executives.

The research, entitled Imported Drama Series in Europe, puts Disney in third spot on the back of Desperate Housewives, Scrubs and Criminal Minds while NBC Universal imported shows such as House and Law And Order take fourth spot.

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Rounding out the top five import kings in Europe is Fox with its shows The Sons of Anarchy, Modern Family and Glee continuing their march across the continent.

According to the report the hours by distributor read CBS with 4,861, Warner with 3,891, Disney on 3,327, NBC Universal shipping 2,901 and Fox pushing out 2,408.

The report shows that CBS drama programs filled 4,861 hours in primetime across 119 channels in 21 territories.

Jonathan Bailey, co-author and managing director at Essential Television Statistics, said: “The number of hours screened by each major distributor is driven by a small number of highly successful programs – 2011 saw very strong usage of CSI and NCIS in primetime widely across Europe.”

Primetime target market slots for U.S. sellers will likely include Ireland, a country that screened only 6.6 percent of its imported drama series hours in primetime in 2011, with Portugal (8 percent) and Sweden (8.7 percent) also low.

At the other end of the scale, the proportion was 39.7 percent in the Netherlands.

Simon Murray, co-author and managing director at Digital TV Research, added: “Despite IDS hours being relatively low in the U.K., [U.K. broadcaster Channel 4’s] E4 screened the highest number of IDS hours in Europe in 2011 while ITV3 and ITV4 saw very substantial growth in imported hours. Against this, each of the main three channels (BBC1, BBC2 and ITV1) transmitted less than an hour a day of imported drama series during 2011.”

The value of imported drama series for European broadcasters was $5.99 billion in 2011 for the 119 channels (nearly all of which are free-to-air) across 21 territories covered in this report, on a par with the totals for 2009 and 2010, but well down on the $6.6 billion posted in 2008.

Michael Cluff, co-author and director at Madigan Cluff, said: “Most countries experienced a pick up in advertising fortunes in 2011 with some markets such as Russia showing very strong growth, against this economic constraints in Southern and Eastern Europe, have reduced revenues. Advertising and other sources of income for channels will continue be pressured in 2012, both scheduling patterns and advertising income will see a rollercoaster of a ride with the London Olympics and the Euro 2012 soccer championships.”