'Two and a Half Men,' 'CSI' Helped Generate $6 Billion for European Broadcasters in 2010


Imported U.S. series such as "The Mentalist" and "Law and Order" also had big money "value" for commercial and public stations, according to a new international TV research report.

LONDON – Imported series are worth a healthy $6 billion to European broadcasters according to the latest report produced by a trio of international television research companies.

U.S. titles such as the CSI franchise, The Mentalist, Law and Order, Gray’s Anatomy and Without a Trace all proved their worth to broadcasters across Europe, according to the report.

The report, entitled Imported Drama Series in Europe, claims the  “value” of imported drama series for 120 European broadcasters across 21 territories reached $5.9 billion in 2010, similar to 2009’s tally.

For commercial broadcasters it's a measure of ad revenues during the shows and for public broadcasters it's a calculation based on the value compared to the portion of funding given to the channel in question from the licence fee.

But the report says the levels of worth last year are “well down on the $6.6 billion posted in 2008, on the back of the advertising recession which has had “a downward knock-on effect on the value of imported drama series for broadcasters since 2009.”

Warner Bros is the top dog distributor of primetime imported drama series by hours scheduled during 2010 in primetime, providing 17% of the total across territories including France, Italy, Spain and the U.K. Shows such as The Mentalist and Two and Half Men proved a winner for the European broadcasters.

CBS takes second place with 16%, with strong showings from the CSI franchise and the NCIS shows, while Disney is third on 14% across Europe with Desperate Housewives and Gray’s Anatomy successful content for broadcasters. NBC Universal's House and Law and Order, Fox's Lie To Me and Sony's The Tudors also scored wel, report co-author Simon Murray told The Hollywood Reporter.

Murray, who also is managing director of Digital TV Research added: “Values for leaders (of imported shows) Germany, Italy and France were all similar in 2010 at around $1 billion each. However, the U.K. and Spain recorded much lower figures, revealing less reliance on imported drama, especially during primetime on the main channels. The U.K .is a sizeable producer and exporter of drama series in its own right.”

Co-report author Michael Cluff said: “Governments are scrutinizing public broadcasters more closely than ever, which has put pressure on household license fee income and expenditure.”

Italian, French (and German) channels generated the highest value from imported drama series in 2010, according to the report.

France’s TF1 was by far the greatest beneficiary, generating $509 million from 2,178 hours of imported drama series screened. Murray said France's appetite for the U.S. studio shows was surprising.

At the other end of the scale, major broadcasters such as the U.K.’s ITV1 and Spain’s Antena 3 utilized little from imported drama series.

The total number of imported drama series hours in Europe was 163,576 -- 3.7 hours a day on average for the 120 channels covered in the report -- in 2010, comparable to both the previous year and 2008.

Jonathan Bailey, co-author and managing director at Essential Television Statistics, said: “The number of imported drama series hours has remained stable, but more of these imports are being used to fill non-primetime schedules, especially on secondary channels. Local versions of international formats have gained importance in recent years, with the genre taking a greater share of primetime output.”


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