For a while, “Nordic noir” was the buzzword on everyone’s lips as audiences and networks alike flocked to dark, gritty TV thrillers from the Scandinavian regions such as The Killing (Denmark), The Bridge (Sweden) and Mammon (Norway). As with any cultural trend, the big question is how to sustain that popularity.
Scandinavia is – like most territories – in a time of major change. No matter what perspective you choose to have, it is clear that the market still has a long way to go to reach what might be considered as maturity or balance. Whatever the various parties say; there is a great uncertainty among many market players in terms of how to position their businesses when facing an uncertain future.
More and more people now talk about a need for an increased investment in local content.
Much of what characterises market and its trends, particularly in Sweden, can be traced to this uncertainty. The role of linear channels – how can they stay attractive in an increasingly on-demand-heavy universe? How will a possible rebranding of these broadcasters impact the local production companies and also foreign rights-holders? How well equipped are the production companies for the inevitable change in demand from traditional partners? How will the foreign power houses react to the expected loss of appetite for US series in the territory and to what extent will they explore the ability to exploit their own content?
More and more people now talk about a need for an increased investment in local content, rather than, say, in US series through output deals with the studios. This will most likely be vital for broadcasters and other services in order to remain attractive, and to continue to have an exclusive appeal for not only the young crowd.
Quotes like “the Gold of the VOD era is spelled exclusivity” or “an increase of Swedish local content is crucial” may not be newsflash-worthy, but can be heard more often in the discussion regarding how the television industry must change.
Scandinavian channels need to invest locally, across all genres, in the future.
However, while several upcoming projects – such as Fabrik Entertainment’s 100 Code, an international co-production with Scandinavia as its primary market – can be seen as an example of an increased activity, and a deeper desire to produce locally, it is still an exception rather than a true sign of a new trend. Despite increased global appetite for Scandinavian scripted formats, the local channels and operators are still extremely cautious when it comes to investing in original drama. And despite several new players present in the market, there are still no serious competitors out there, challenging the traditional commissioners.
One thing is clear, Scandinavian channels will need to invest locally, across all genres, in the future, but so far it is not really happening on the drama front. The question is: Who takes the lead?