Serbia TV market from within
Today we decided to stay at one of the most promising in terms of the development of the television industry of Balkan countries – Serbia. According to AGB Nielsen Research, conducted in 2015, the Serbs spend watching TV an average of 5 hours per day, which is the highest rate in Europe. In order to more accurately and reliably display information about the development of the Serbian TV industry, the latest trends and the main preferences of the domestic audience as well as the problems and prospects of the Serbian TV market, we turned to Rastislav Durman – Producer, Content Development Coordinator at Radio Television of Vojvodina.
Which content is the highest rated (viewed) in Serbia?
Absolutely the most favorite TV content in Serbia is fiction series in domestic language and with recognizable domestic culture code. Speaking about language, similarity with Croatian and Bosnian makes series made in Croatia or Bosnia very popular in Serbia. Speaking about culture code TV audience in Serbia loves original works, but high ratings also can make scripted format if localization of scenario was made in good way – nowadays very popular in Serbia (and also Croatia) is series “Pavle i Andjelka”, domestic version of Canadian “Un gars, une fille“. How much audience in Serbia is in love with domestic series content testifies fact that series in second, fourth or even „teen“ reperition make great shares („White Boat“ 25.9%; „Village in flames…“26,4%; „Military Academy“ 20.7%).
What percentage of your channel’s grid is taken by your own products? And what content is purchased from foreign companies?
According to “Low about Electronic Media” each broadcaster should have minimum 25% of its own production in the air. Also, at least 50% of aired content should be from Europe and 10% should be purchased by independent production companies. Public media services (RTS as national and RTV Vovojvodine as regional) are buying almost all genres abroad; commercial stations are focused in movies and series. Formats (scripted and non-scripted) are usually bought by production companies which produce format and sell to broadcasters.
What are the key values/expectations of Serbian audience? In your opinion, what interests them in the first place?
Serbian TV audience could be divided in a few categories according to education, life style and social status – everybody likes domestic fiction, but “the second best choice” depends on category – sometimes it is reality, sometimes entertainment (mostly music shows) and sometimes foreign fiction content. It should be told that in the last few years percentage of viewership of national wide TV broadcasters is falling down and that people more and more spend time watching other linear broadcasters, mostly cable thematic channels (approximately 35% share in Belgrade and Central Serbia and 40% in Vojvodina).
What ways does your channel (or Serbian channels in general) use in order to make money? If not taking in consideration advertising. For instance, book publishing, product placement, product branding, etc.
The TV channels’ income besides advertising (and subscription fee and support from state budget for public media services) could be estimated as poor. Book publishing, selling content abroad, renting facilities and similar activities exist, but not in percentage which will mean significant contribution to budgets. New Advertisement Law was launched a month ago and we should wait for a while to see how product placement will work according to new rules. World TV brands are present in Serbia (on-going is “Frozen” mania) but it is business run by specialized companies.
Could you tell me how professionals of TV-industry are raised in Serbia? In your opinion, what TV professionals are lacking now?
Serbia has very strong TV industry for a few decades. Production staff is mostly educated at Academies of Arts in Belgrade and Novi Sad, also as some private high schools. Some younger professionals – especially specialized in animation and effects – work for Western productions almost on daily bases. That what TV professionals in Serbia are lacking now is growing media market – economic crises which is present almost ten years significantly reduced the level of production.
Rastislav Durman, Content Development Coordinator in Radio Television of Vojvodina
Could you describe in your words what are the technical/technological tendencies in Serbia? (I mean channels, or online-platforms; where is the main audience)
After ASO in June 2015 the number of households that exclusively follow terrestrial TV is almost halved, but the number of users of cable, IPTV and DTH increased by approximately the same number. Pickbox streaming platform with localized content is available from 2015, while Netflix since the beginning of 2016. Unfortunately, for now there is no estimate on the number of users streaming services. Young people primarily use wireless and mobile networks to access media content on the Internet.
Siniša Isakov, Associate professor of AV Technology at Academy of Arts, University of Novi Sad