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CONTENT BUDAPEST NEWS: Linear TV still standing in Central & Eastern Europe

Siméon Mirzayantz takes to the podium on day one of Content Budapest

CONTENT BUDAPEST: Linear television remains strong in Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), with viewers in markets such as Hungary watching nearly twice as much scheduled TV as those elsewhere around the world, according to research firm Glance.

Speaking during a packed opening session of Content Budapest in the Hungarian capital today, Siméon Mirzayantz, Médiamétrie-owned Glance’s regional business manager for CEE, the Middle East, Africa and Southern Europe, highlighted the extent to which linear TV is continuing to perform well in CEE.

This is especially the case in Hungary, where the average viewer tunes in for nearly five hours a day, versus around two-and-a-half hours in the rest of the world, Mirzayantz said.

Overseas programmes also remain popular in the region, added Mirzayantz, citing Glance research showing these account for a significant proportion of the top 10 shows in 10 key CEE markets over the last six years, peaking in 2021 at 20%.

While US titles represent the lion’s share, programming from Turkey and the Czech Republic is proving particularly popular with neighbouring countries, while imports from Scandinavia, Africa and elsewhere highlight the diversity of CEE audience tastes.

The Glance numbers illustrated the declining impact of US shows over the past two years, however, while 3Vision executive VP Jack Davison detailed how the CEE landscape has changed as a result of US studios retaining originals for their own streaming services.

“US content still plays a huge role in the ecosystem,” said Davison, who also noted how vertical integration has seen studios increasingly selling first-run originals to themselves, though recent financial pressures have led some to change direction.

“This is all in the context of Netflix’s Q1 2022 results and subsequent impact on the studio businesses, which is that they’ve got to stop chasing global subscriber growth at all costs and they’ve got to think about P&L. That’s what the investors want and demand.”

Davison cited developments at Warner Bros Discovery as indicative of these changes – sharply felt in the CEE regions, where HBO Europe originals productions ceased, and series made under that initiative were licensed earlier this year to new Comcast-Paramount joint venture SkyShowtime, advertising for which is rife in Budapest right now.

Davison said of the latter: “They have great content but they’re late to market and they have to nail those distribution partnerships if they’re going to succeed, and all of the studios are facing those same challenges.”

Elsewhere in the Content Trends Report session, Parrot Analytics EMEA director Alex Cameron highlighted the growing strength of the CEE export market, identifying Star TV Turkish drama Golden Boy and Polish Max originals Bring Back Alice (Poland), Spy/Master (Romania) and The Informant (Hungary) as among the recent top sellers, as well as TV3 Hungary’s Ted Lasso-esque comedy Gólkirályság.

Ampere Analysis research manager Hannah Walsh, meanwhile, presented figures that showed CEE would be among the few regions set to experience growth in content spend this year and beyond.

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