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International Co-Production is Back on the Road to Recovery - White Paper

The lockdowns of 2020 and continuing restrictions of 2021 had a severe impact on productions all around the world, delaying commissioning decisions, freezing budgets, adding to the cost of shooting, and disrupting travel. But as the international TV industry heads to this year's MIPCOM, most of the obstacles have been lifted, and the business is making up for lost time.

The continuing growth of streaming, which was one of the few areas of the entertainment industry to gain momentum through the months of lockdown, is continuing to fuel production of original content around the world. This year, Omdia forecasts that Netflix will spend $15 billion on content. Last year, we found that Netflix commissioned productions from 37 countries outside the US.

Competitors in the streaming space are also starting to diversify their sources of programming supply as they roll out around the world. Walt Disney has announced a wave of original commissions in Europe, Asia and Latin America. Amazon, having completed its acquisition of Hollywood major MGM in March 2022, is also stepping up its originations, with Apple, Paramount+, HBO Max and Peacock also joining the fray.

The rise of streaming has forced a response from linear players. European public broadcasters from France, Germany and Italy formed a co-production pact in 2018 in order to pool their resources against deep-pocketed SVOD companies. The alliance is still going strong, with one of its first fruits, the Lux Vide/Beta Film  Leonardo, airing on The CW in the US this year as well as many other networks. Beta Film also struck a multi-year co-distribution deal with Telefonica at MIPTV in 2019, and other key pacts include Sky and HBO (a multi-year deal running through to 2025), Nordic streamer Viaplay with Sony and MGM, and Netflix with South Korea’s Dragon Studios, part of the expansive CJ E&M group.

On the supply side, TV and online production is still dominated by Hollywood. According to Omdia’s analysis of company reports, the five leading groups by 2021 revenues were US studios. Walt Disney Co was ranked at the top of the pile, with revenues from SVOD and TV licensing coming to combined $10.8 billion. This was a little less than the total for 2020, with Disney forgoing third party licensing revenue to channel exclusive content to its in-house streaming platforms. Paramount, Warner Bros, NBC Universal and Sony (the only one of the majors still licensing content to Netflix) all reporting increased revenues. France’s Banijay Group powered into sixth place thanks to its acquisition of Endemol Shine and other groups, with a total of $3.3 billion in 2021 revenues.

There are some signs that the flood of new investment by the streamers may be starting to slacken. HBO Max, under new cost-conscious management after the merger of Warner Media and Discovery, has cut back on its investments in original content, while Paramount and NBC Universal have formed a pact with Sky to join forces in launching streaming services in parts of Europe where Sky is not operating. Omdia’s research projects continued growth for online subscription services, but at a slower rate over the next five years.