'The Voice' and 'The X Factor': Strength and Weakness of Co-productions

Marta Jandova, Andrea Hola and Dara Rolins in Czechoslovak 'The Voice' finale

Save money by co-producing reality and talent shows? See pros and cons from two CEE markets.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

The co-production model has become more and more common in these post-crisis times. Not just seen in the movie industry but also in broadcasting - including reality and talent shows by helping lower expenses.

There is one significant example of the shows co-produced in the CEE region - between Czech Republic and Slovakia. It started back in 2009 with local Idols (Cesko Slovenska SuperStar) and still continues to this day.

I will dissect what the largest advantages and disadvantages of co-producing global show formats with these two recent examples:

'The Voice': Football, hockey and other obstacles

Channels owned by Central European Media Enterprises (CME) joined forces with 'The Voice' for a recent joint venture. Czech nr. 1 broadcaster Nova TV and Slovak nr. 1 Markiza came together and made local version 'Hlas Cesko Slovenska' this past spring. Here are the results:

Final show reached 25% market share in ad-relevant 15-54 target group on Czech Nova TV and 21.4% in 12-54 on Markiza. The whole season, except late evening results, showed an average of 25% on Nova and exactly 26.4% on Markiza. In Slovakia it gained 1.1 points compared to the channel's spring average, while in the Czech Republic it replicated or declined compared to channel's averages (Nova achieved 24.9% in May and 27.6% in April). In both cases the show got less viewers than first season in 2012.

The largest benefit of co-producing is a chance to share expenses. For example production costs are significantly lower due to confining expenses, with some cases being half the price (one director, one crew, one set, etc.). In this case the largest disadvantage is that programming is less flexible, with both channels airing the show at exact times every week. With a larger supporting issue of no planned breaks and channels not easily able to make decisions, as if it weren't their own project. For example having a final show air in direct competition with 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil match and an earlier show air in direct competition with 2014 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship. Another example was a local Slovakia team had a match as the same time as 'The Voice' leading to a 14.8% share decline. In response the broadcaster decided to air a rerun the following evening, with this being avoidable if there wasn’t a co-producer involved. A possible outcome would've been just skipping the week and giving the show a pause.

The show had two hosts (one Czech and one Slovak) plus 5-member jury (3 Czechs and 2 Slovaks) using one double seat. Market differences were also significant: Czech viewers are less keen on talent shows and prefer drama genre, in Slovakia big prime time competitions have better historical background. Also director/creative producer was Slovak.

'The Voice' aired from March, 5, to June, 18, 2014.

Market shares of 'The Voice' on Slovak Markiza (TG 12-54) and Czech Nova (TG 15-54)

'The X Factor': Good in one country, failing in other

MTG's Prima TV in the Czech Republic and locally owned TV Joj in Slovakia share expenses with co-production of 'The X Factor'; leading to their first collaboration.This is their first usage of FremantleMedia format but have past experience on shows like 'Test the Nation' by Eyeworks (failing in both markets, rescheduled to later time slots and terminated) or quite successful 'Got Talent'.

They pursued an unusual model for 'The X Factor' by incorporating just three live shows, unique and not very common.

In Slovakia local 'X Factor' achieved a 23.9% season share in the 12-54 target group, resulting in success for TV Joj, with a channel averages below 20% in the same season.

Czech viewers on the other hand didn't much like the show: averaging just 10% in Prima's ad-relevant target group 15+. This is far below the channel's usual numbers as Prima had 14.3% share in May and 13.9% in April. In younger 15-54 target group 'The X Factor' did slightly better: launching at 13% with end of season shows slipping quickly to single digit numbers and finale only achieving 10%. (Prima averaged 10.8% in May and 11.0% in April in 15-54).

Prima joined this project while the production phase was in progress: the entire team plus director/main producer were Slovak while also incorporating local judges. This costly project didn't bring sufficient numbers, meaning that an expectable forecast for Prima will be to prefer 'Got Talent' over 'The X Factor' in future productions.

'The X Factor' aired from March, 9, to May, 25, 2014.

Market shares of 'The X Factor' on Slovak Joj (TG 12-54) and Czech Prima (TG 15-54)

(Czech data - ATO/Mediaresearch, Slovak data - PMT/TNS. Sources: Strategie.sk, Mediaboom, Panacek v reality show, Mediaguru.cz