The scale of the COVID-19 commissioning hangover has been laid bare in a new report.
Up to 60% of scripted titles around the world that were set to air later this year are set to be delayed with up to 10% of planned dramas and comedies likely to be scrapped entirely, according to a report from Ampere Analysis.
The company has predicted that the underlying effects of the coronavirus shutdown will be felt well into 2021 but unscripted programming is set to bounce back by the end of the year.
In the second half of 2020, Ampere expects that broadcasters will release between 5%-10% fewer new scripted titles on a monthly basis than previously predicted. Over half of scripted titles which would normally have released in the second half of 2020 are at risk of delay.
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A further 5%-10% of scripted titles which we would expect to have been released during the Autumn months are likely be lost entirely due to the current production shutdown.
Compared to 2019, only 51% of scripted projects ordered during March-May 2019 have so far aired. With commissioning of scripted content down by 40% in the equivalent period of 2020, Ampere predicts falling number of commissions will impact the supply of content well into 2021. The proportion of scripted releases unaffected by the shutdown only rises above 40% in March 2021.
Fred Black, Senior Analyst, Ampere Analysis, said, “There is one certainty among the current uncertainty – that the COVID-19 pandemic will change the TV production industry far beyond the end of the lockdown. Initially, we expect delays to cause gaps in scripted TV release schedules, which broadcasters and streaming players will have to fill with other content. However, as delayed productions begin to fill out content gaps in later months, these gaps will begin to close. But this has further ramifications. The knock-on effect of delayed releases is a likely depression of the number of new commissions for some time after the shutdown ends, as commissioners look to fill schedules with delayed projects they have already invested in before signing off new ones.”
On the unscripted side, the report highlights that entertainment and reality commissions over the second and third quarters of 2020 will be delayed but that the percentage of titles unaffected rises to 71% by October.
While there are a number of big summer shows that are affected, such as the delay of ABC’s The Bachelorette and ITV’s decision to cancel the British version of Love Island, the number of unscripted commissions around the world has actually increased in comparison to the same period last year. However, this is largely due to a number of smaller COVID-proof shows, including a raft of remotely produced series. If these series are taken out, unscripted commissions have been down 27% since the beginning of March.
Black added, “Commissioners are currently creating a large number of extra unscripted projects which can be used to cover gaps in the schedule left by delayed titles or the missed scripted commissions. This number of extra commissions will begin to wane as the shutdown ends, with audience appetite for COVID-19-specific content already showing signs of falling.”
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