Unscripted shows and formats remain a relatively small part of the overall streaming content mix, but they are a growth area for SVOD services. New research from Ampere Analysis shows that four out of the top five favourite genres among SVOD subscribers in Q3 2020 were scripted, but companies like Netflix have been ramping up investment in unscripted formats (which traditionally are one of the differentiators for ‘local’ broadcasters) in recent years. That trend was accelerated by Covid-19 when scripted productions were delayed.
“Streamers are increasingly turning to formats for new original production,” declares Ampere Analysis. “Over the past year, linear channels globally have commissioned 263 shows based on formats, with streamers adding a further 36.”
Netflix has been beefing up its unscripted slate by replicating formats across multiple territories, the research firm reports. The company says the streaming giant has been exploiting its expanding presence in localised production in order to target international markets with its original unscripted formats on a larger scale.
“The new talent contest, Sing On, has three localised versions – in Spain, Germany, and the US – but they were all filmed on the same set in the UK. Each version has been produced with local contestants and hosted by a well-known personality from the particular country,” Ampere observes.
Alice Thorpe, Analyst at Ampere Analysis adds: “Our recent research has shown that Netflix is beginning to invest in its original unscripted formats on an industrial scale. It is now leveraging what is essentially a global studio infrastructure, which means they can push out carbon copies of their Originals localised to different territories, while keeping costs down.
“As Netflix is still a relatively new entrant into the unscripted formats market, it will take some time for its investments to pay off – however, it has already seen some reward, particularly when new formats are coupled with a change in release strategy.”
Ampere says the past year has seen a huge uptick in orders for formatted shows by West European commissioners. From September 2019 to September 2020, Western European commissioners ordered 194 new shows based on formats. The upward trend was apparent before the pandemic, but “Covid-19 has added fuel to the format fire”.
European format commissioning activity reached a high in July 2020, with 30 unscripted remakes announced in a single month (Ampere Analysis figures).