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4th Feb 2023

Reality shows biggest EU TV export

  • In 2007, made-in-Europe programmes represented 74 percent of EU citizens’ viewing time (Photo: EUobserver)

Reality shows are the most successfully exported European television programmes, notably to the United States, a new study showed on Thursday (28 May).

The independent study carried out on behalf of the European Commission found that the traditional "significant deficit in the balance of trade for programming between Europe and the rest of the world" is still present.

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"Almost all European broadcasters have acquired popular US programming, both TV series and Hollywood movies," it noted while an increasing number of imports are coming from Asia.

But it also found that in the last few years, "the European programming export market has strengthened with a number of programmes being traded both intra-Europe and elsewhere."

"A number of European formats (mainly from the UK and The Netherlands) have been exported to the US, where a high proportion of them have been recommissioned for second series," it said.

Programmes such as Survivor - produced by British-Swedish company Planet 24 and which has contestants competing in the wilderness for cash and other prizes, Big Brother of the Netherlands' Endemol – where a group of people live together in a house isolated from the outside world while constantly watched by cameras, and British 19 Television's Pop Idol - a show for music star wannabes, have become massively popular with American viewers.

Other popular programme exports include The Office - a BBC mockumentary series about the everyday lives of office employees, and Dancing with the Stars - a show that pairs celebrities with professional dancers for weekly dancing competitions.

Europeans watch more European programmes

The study also found that programmes and films made in Europe are increasingly attractive to a European audience.

"I welcome viewers' interest in European works. This demonstrates that European diversity ... is a value shared by the vast majority of Europeans," stated commission vice-president EU Jacques Barrot.

In 2007, programmes made in Europe represented 74 percent of EU citizens' viewing time, with that figure even higher (75.5%) in the most-watched hours, between 6:00 and 11:00 p.m.

Additionally, Europeans spent 33.4 percent of their viewing time watching independent European productions, the study found.

Under EU rules, the majority of the European channels' programming must be devoted to European works, with at least 10 percent of that time or of their programming budgets to independent European productions.

Currently, certain channels in eight EU member states – Belgium, Estonia, Ireland, Italy, Poland, Romania, Sweden and the UK – still do not comply with these requirements however, and European productions account for less than 50 percent of their programming.

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