In 2018, average daily viewing time for television stood at 2 hours and 55 minutes in the 94 countries studied by Eurodata TV Worldwide for the One TV Year in the World report. That figure was one minute shorter than in 2017.
This overall stability did conceal some disparities between the different regions of the world: e.g. in North America, viewing times were significantly down (-9 mins); this decrease was more restrained in Europe and South America, two continents which remained broadly above the global average, with individual daily viewing times of 3 hours and 45 minutes and 3 hours and 40 minutes respectively. Nevertheless, some growth was recorded in other regions that tend to watch less TV, such as Asia (2 hours and 28 minutes, +3 mins).
Frédéric Vaulpré, Eurodata TV Worldwide Director explained: “Interestingly, if we put this into perspective by looking at how these figures change over the long term, in the most recent years, viewing times around the world are down slightly, but are still at a comparable level to the early 2000s. The American continent and Europe have broadly exceeded the global average since the beginning of the 1990s. Over the last 25 years, daily viewing time has been stable in North America and has even increased in South America and in Europe. TV is in good health and is also benefitting from new consumer practices.”
In 2018, television viewers were watching TV programmes on internet screens, catch-up services and even before the traditional live broadcast. These practices, which emerged during the 2000s, are constantly increasing as broadcasters innovate and younger generations continue to adopt them.
Catch-up accounted for 8.3% of global TV viewing time, however, that proportion was much higher in some individual countries: 18% in Switzerland; and even 23% of the TV viewing time among young adults in Portugal.
Finally, internet screens are following a similar pattern which enables channels to attract additional viewers and offers more and more viewers additional opportunities to watch their TV content.
The newest arrival is pre-broadcasting, and whilst it still only involves a few programmes, it has swiftly become established: in the UK, it accounted for 21% of the total audience for content offering this broadcast option.
Among more than 10,000 new series launched in 2018 around the world, 43% were factual, 41% fiction and 16% entertainment genres.
In terms of audience figures, fictions dominated: new scripted series topped the annual charts in three quarters of the countries studied***. It should be noted that 80% of them were local productions.
2018 marked comedy’s successful chart comeback: five such programmes monopolised the top spot, including: Welcome to the Family in Spain and Young Sheldon in Australia, compared to just one in 2016.
Avril Blondelot, Head of Content Insight at Eurodata TV added: “In 2018, many of the most successful launches reflected local particularities: in Eastern Europe for example, viewers are partial to historical drama series, as evidenced by the success of Marie Terezie in the Czech Republic, Godunov in Russia and Korona Królów in Poland, all three of which debuted at the top of their respective national charts among novelties. A local prism also exists in Asia where four series based around the family rose to the top of the national new series charts: this is the case of Mampuku in Japan and Nayagi in India. Globally speaking, diversity is another key trend for 2018, and it will be probably the same in 2019”
From the entertainment genre, Danish game show All Against One stood out this year: launched in Denmark in 2016, this game show climbed to the top of the charts in Norway when its adaptation launched there. More generally, entertainment formats that proved instant hits were well-known franchises, such as: Big Brother, back on the air on Israel’s Reshet 13 channel and due for a relaunch in Finland. Elsewhere, Who Wants to Marry my Son led the field in Romania.
According to Eurodata TV, one clear trend is emerging in 2019: the portrayal of medical operations and health-related interventions, based around the concept of provoking contradictory emotions amongst viewers – part admiration and part astonishment. One such show is 113, which aired on NK1 in Norway and follows the work of the emergency services. The first episode boosted the audience for the slot by 55%. Operation Live, which as the name suggests invites TV viewers into the operating theatre, was a hit for Channel 5 in the United Kingdom and also for Australian channel Seven, gaining an additional 31% of the 18-34 year old audience for the two episodes aired.
In the fiction genre, political drama series are on a roll. In the United States, Project Blue Book tells the secret history of the CIA’s investigations into the UFO phenomenon in the 1950s; thanks to this series, the History Channel tripled the audience figures on the slot in the first four episodes. In the same vein, Years & Years (distributed by StudioCanal), will soon be airing in the United Kingdom. This drama puts TV viewers in the shoes of a family gripped by the politics of a near-future dominated by economic uncertainty.
Although local productions had a monopoly on the top rankings, the success of a few programmes around the world turned them into international hits.
For example, The Masked Singer is a South Korean music talent show that has been successfully adapted in the United States. Finally, co-productions are sure to put their stamp on TV in 2019. Going forward, they will generate encounters between very diverse countries, as seen in the latest collaborations between the Nordic countries and Spanish-speaking countries: e.g. Invisible Heroes, a fictional co-production that will soon be aired on YLE TV1 (Finland) and Chilevision (Chile).
Finally, according to Paul Youngbluth, Director of Tape Consultancy: “Audiences are as much driven by their instincts as their interest in specific topics that are currently in the public domain – they are also forever curious and hungry for new ideas or new ways to access familiar spaces. TV has but one challenge – to keep up with them!”