Analysis by Verónica Gómez-Jordana, Director of Teleformat and Gloria Saló, Director of Production and Content Consulting at GECA.
From adult animation to thriller, drama and dramedies, drama production globally has continued to struggle to maintain fine form and pace of production in a complex audiovisual market marked by the effects of the pandemic, as producers strive to strike the perfect balance between an increase in demand for content and production process timings, according to the latest report published by international observatory TELEFORMAT, a department of GECA specializing in global trends.
While the United States boasts a record-breaking volume of premieres immersed in the world of superheroes, Europe continues looking to police drama and suspense, while the Latin American market banks on genre diversification with Brazil and Mexico as the region’s principal producers.
As for the broadcast of drama, one striking fact is how Europe’s principal destination continues to be linear channels, with the exception of Spain, which produces mainly for OTT platforms, as is the case in the United States and several of the main markets in Latin America, such as Argentina and Mexico.
The United States, world leader in drama
The United States broke new records for releases in 2021 with animation registering the genre with the highest number of premiered productions – 70% more than in 2020, with titles such as Arcane, the adaptation of the Netflix video game, – followed by drama, with productions like Mare of Easttown, HBO, and Kate Winslet like we’ve never seen her before. The figures for dramedy and sitcom productions doubled in 2021, while interestingly, comedy productions have declined.
Drama dominates in Europe
Dram productions skyrocketed in Germany and now represent the principal driving force of German broadcast fiction (52% of the total produced in 2021). Police and crime/legal dramas continue to triumph, such as The Allegation from RTL+, while the volume of new releases in comedy and dramedy hold fast compared with the previous year.
The United Kingdom, one of the main driving forces in European drama production, shows a decrease in production in all genres, which in general represents a drop in new releases of around 20%. The main genre continues to be drama, which has triumphed with productions such as Channel 4’s It’s a Sin and police drama Vigil from BBC One.
Despite major growth in Spain in 2020, drama series productions register a decline in 2021 with less variety in terms of genre. However, drama remains the favored genre with premieres such as Atresplayer Premium’s Cardo and with an increase in dramedy productions with titles such as TNT’s Queer Your Are, while the data from streaming platforms shows an increase in drama productions, now accounting for two thirds of the whole, painting a picture increasingly more similar to the US market and contrasting with the rest of the main European markets, according to the report published by Teleformat.
2021 also saw an increase in series production in France, with greater diversity in terms of genre when it comes to storytelling, from detective and suspense dramas like the Netflix original Lupin, to comedies, miniseries and dramedies, like the successful HPI from TF1.
The number of Italian fiction productions has been increasing in the last two years with a greater presence of drama, which is highly successful with literary adaptations such as Blanca by Rai Uno, followed in 2021 by miniseries Màkari also by Rai Uno and other comedies.
2021 saw the greatest volume of drama productions in The Netherlands in the last four years, although the Dutch rank last in Europe in terms of number of productions. Drama is on the decrease, giving way to comedy series like NPO3’s Deep Shit, miniseries and especially multimedia youth-themed dramedies like AVROTROS’s Sas heeft een SOA.
Diversification is the key in Latin American markets
Brazil has seen a marked drop off in fiction production in 2021, especially in drama, despite remaining the preferred genre for networks, with telenovela production on the rise with titles such as Um Lugar ao Sol by Globo, while miniseries remain constant.
Drama production in Mexico increased slightly in 2021, with telenovelas registering the greatest volume of premieres and with the success of the adaptation of Korean series ¿Qué le pasa a mi familia? from Las Estrellas, followed closely by drama. Comedy declines as dramedy makes timid advances, while other genres such as miniseries and anthologies discreetly crash the party with titles like No fue mi culpa by Star+.
Drama is the genre with the greatest presence in Argentina, with the Netflix original El Reino series with political overtones stands out, followed by a rise in dramedy productions with premieres such as Prime Video’s Pequeñas victorias, a spin-off of the Telefe hit Victoria Small, while soap opera productions remain stable.
Dram production in Colombia experienced a considerable drop in 2021 and the decrease would be 100% if we were to focus exclusively on linear TV, since all the dramas released this year bear the hallmark of one digital platform or another. The production of telenovelas has returned to linear television with the new version of The Scent of Passion on RCN, as well as drama with the prequel The Cartel on Netflix.
Of Franco-Spanish nationality, Verónica studied Audiovisual Communication at the Universidad Complutense in Madrid and the Université Saint Denis in Paris, going on to work as an international television analyst in GECA’s Teleformat department, specializing in French and Italian audiovisual markets. Verónica is currently managing the GECA Teleformat department, which analyzes both audiovisual fiction and entertainment trends and new releases across the principal global markets.
(Director of Production and Content Consultants at GECA)
Director of Production and Content Consultants at GECA, Gloria is an expert in International Formats and Markets, Creativity and Executive Production, having initiated her career in the audiovisual sector at Telecinco. Gloria has held executive positions with several channels and production companies including Director of International Markets and Communication, Head of Programming, Head of New Projects, Director of Content and Drama Production Coordinator. Since publishing her book ¿Qué es eso del formato? she has also begun lecturing and writing and is a Doctor cum laude in Audiovisual Communication from the Universidad Complutense, lecturing at the Universidad Francisco de Vitoria and Universidad Carlos III in Madrid and Director of the Postgraduate degree in Fiction Showrunner at CEU Valencia-Madrid.