Netflix already outranks HBO ($2.0 billion) and Turner $3.8 billion, and is coming up on CBS ($5.7 billion). Combined, Netflix and Amazon spent as much on programming as Germany ($7.3 billion) in 2015, according to World TV Production Report 2016, which examines how production companies are adapting to the era of Internet TV.
“The levels of investment we are seeing from Netflix and Amazon are only topped by Disney ($11.84 billion) and NBC ($10.27 billion),” said Tim Westcott, senior principal analyst at IHS Technology.
He added: “However, it’s premature to declare that the era linear TV is already over, and Netflix and Amazon have come hard on the heels of a boom in production of original drama and comedy by the likes of AMC and FX in the US.
148 new scripted shows were are by basic cable networks in the U.S., up from 138 in 2014 and 96 the year before. “These investments are vital to cable networks to justify higher ad rates and carriage fees,” said Westcott.
Online platform investment surged from 41 new series in 2015, double the 20 launched in 2014 and the 13 in 2013. “Whatever Netflix says about the era of linear TV coming to an end, most of the buyers of new scripted content are linear TV services,” said Westcott.
Yet there some signs that some of this linear TV production in the U.S. is dropping off, he noted. U.S. linear TV and basic cable drama production currently registers 78 new U.S. network TV scripted shows vs. 115 in 2015, with U.S. basic cable scripted shows at 113 this year, vs. 148 in 2015. In contrast, in 2016, 31 U.S. premium cable series numbers have launched to date vs. 29 for the whole of 2015. Online platforms have already chalked up 57 series quadrupling the 13 in 2013, according to the IHS Technology report.
Worldwide TV programming expenditure edged down to $129.8 billion in 2015, compared to $128.7 billion the year before. IHS Technology notes, however, that a strong U.S. dollar was mostly to blame for this decline: In local currency terms, 29 of the 40 countries covered in the report recorded year-on-year growth in programming spend in 2015.
One sign of the recent vibrancy of Europe’s TV sector, especially in the U.K., is the large number of mergers and acquisitions at its biggest production-sales companies, 18 at ITV, FremantleMedia and Red Arrow from 2010 to first half 2016, as sectoral leaders attempted to ensure access to talent in an increasingly competitive business.
“The primacy of the U.S. in the worldwide programming market is clear,” Westcott said. “We estimate that in 2015, the U.S. represented 33 percent of worldwide expenditure on TV programming, with $43 billion invested across free-to-air, pay TV and online.”
He added that Amazon and Netflix, though they are U.S. companies, are now commissioning for multiple territories, so were treated as global platforms.
Western Europe invested $38,6 billion in programming. its biggest markets being the U.K. with $10.7 billion, Germany ($7.3 billion), France ($6.6 billion) and Italy ($4.6 billion). Spain spent $2.8 billion.
Accounting for a $28.6 billion spend, Asia and the Pacific’s biggest market was Japan ($9.8 billion) but China is not far behind ($8.4 billion).
Leading markets in Latin America, with a total $4.0 billion spend, are Mexico ($1.5 billion) and Brazil ($1.4 million). Canada invested $3.4 billion last year. Russia and Turkey came in around the $900 million mark.