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The Top 10 Show Tracker Stories of 2021


Jack Thomas Manager

2021 in many ways continued to be just as disruptive to the world of scripted TV distribution as the year before it. Disney enhanced its service with Star and with it did a hard pivot to almost ubiquitous levels of vertical integration, other US Studios enhanced their strategies setting many markets up for Direct-to-Consumer to become the norm. Big acquisitions made the news, with both US Studios and UK Distributors being bought up by larger companies. All of this along with the continuing effect of COVID-19 on the industry.

We take a look back at this year’s most read stories from the Show Tracker team to see what insights resonated most with industry executives over the past twelve months.

No. 10 - German Buyers Market

While the majority of US TV series sales occur within six months of their original broadcast, Germany has continued to severely buck this trend. ProSieben has long been neck and neck with Sky in terms of volume for first window US premieres, almost entirely relying entirely on older shows that had a delayed debut in the market. Such a strategy helps strengthen their wide service portfolio which includes Free TV, Pay TV and SVOD services.

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No. 9 - HBO Volume Deals

2021 saw the US Studios ramp up the international rollout of their SVOD services, but longstanding volume deals for HBO content have prevented HBO Max from launching in many markets. We took a look at these long-serving homes of HBO content to map out some of the buyers most affected by WarnerMedia’s likely decision not to renew these agreements in the years to come.

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No. 8 - COVID-19 Impact

It wouldn’t be 2021 without COVID-19 in the news. We had a look at how the COVID-19 pandemic inevitably affected the number of new commissions to premiere last season due to production delays but also revealed the effect this had on distribution, with less of the latest content bought up across Show Tracker markets than ever before. Like Germany, many markets opted instead to acquire older TV shows at potentially cheaper prices.

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No. 7 - China Market Opening Up

A lot of trade uncertainty has prevented the rollout of US and UK TV series in an already challenging market for many years. In 2021 however we started to see an increase of activity in China, with local SVOD services willing to waive exclusivity for many acquisitions. Distributors have managed to maximise their revenue in the country thanks to non-exclusive deals with up to four services at once taking a TV show on.

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No. 6 - Free TV Fights Back

As streaming superpowers such as Paramount+ and Disney+ began their first major push internationally we examined how traditional broadcast television hopes to compete in a rapidly changing landscape. For many years broadcasters have been quietly enhancing their digital adjacent catch-up services, with some increasing the number of new titles they are releasing as boxsets while others are clubbing together with former competitors to launch SVODs of their own.

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No. 5 - Amazon Buying More than Netflix

Netflix has continued to prioritise Digital Original production over acquisitions, leaving Amazon to step in as one of the globe’s most prominent third party buyers. In markets like Latin America where vertical integration is heavily on the rise, Amazon Prime is one of the region’s only third party buyers outside of local companies like Brazil’s Globo.

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No. 4 - Netflix's Lead in Originals

Netflix continues to produce a huge amount of Originals, both English language and foreign, with the breakout Korean hit Squid Game a long time coming. While Netflix still produces a huge amount of English language Originals compared to its relatively newer competitors, its once giant lead that saw it premiering more TV shows than all other US SVODs combined has started to slip with Disney surpassing Amazon to sneak into second place.

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No. 3 - SkyShowtime

With so many SVODs launching this year from both US Studios and broadcasters, streaming services are likely to struggle as consumers hit their limit on the number of services they are willing to subscribe to. NBCUniversal and ViacomCBS aim to get out ahead of this by combining forces as SkyShowtime to launch in a number of European markets, rather than separately rolling out their own two services, Peacock and Paramount+.

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No. 2 - Factual Content

The Show Tracker team is able to take the same methodology we use to bring the latest activity in the scripted TV market and apply it to all sorts of areas in the distribution industry. Examining the market for Factual TV revealed Netflix also dominates in this space when it comes to commissions, but also how the Warner Discovery merger would likely unseat them from this position.

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No. 1 - Amazon's Takeover of MGM

Our most viewed story came hot on the heels of the announcement that Amazon was set to acquire MGM. We examined their past relationship, both in the acquisition space and their longstanding association through Amazon channels, to determine what might be next on the cards for the studio under new ownership.

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All of these stories were powered by Show Tracker, with the latest data released monthly for subscribers to interrogate directly or through our Online Tool. This data not only drives all the insights we have brought to you this year but also helps our clients draw their own every day, informing and enhancing their distribution or acquisition strategies.


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