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01.06.2003
Originally featured on BroadcastEngineering.com
U.S. produced TV shows losing audience appeal in foreign markets

Television dramas and sitcoms made in America are losing their prime-time appeal on foreign networks, the New York Times reported. Instead, a growing number of shows produced by local broadcasters are on-the-air at the best time periods from Singapore to Sicily.

“Whereas American TV shows used to occupy primetime slots, they are now more typically on cable, or airing in late-night or weekend slots,” said Michael Grindon, president of Sony Pictures Television International, in an interview with the Times.

The shift, the newspaper reported, counters a longstanding assumption that TV shows produced in the United States would continue to overshadow locally produced shows in a wide range of foreign markets. The changes are coming at a time when the influence of the United States on international affairs has chafed friends and foes alike, and some people are expressing relief that at least on television American culture is no longer quite the force it once was, the Times said.

“There has always been a concern that the image of the world would be shaped too much by American culture,” Dr. Jo Groebel, director general of the European Institute for the Media, a nonprofit group, told the Times.

The American studios priced themselves out of the market just as competition began to heat up abroad from newly privatized commercial broadcasters and upstart cable and satellite networks, industry executives said. Given the choice, they added, foreign viewers often prefer homegrown shows that better reflect local tastes, cultures and historical events. A recent example is “The Tunnel,” a miniseries about escapees from East to West Germany, which was the eighth most popular show in Germany last year.

For more information visit www.nytimes.com and search: “U.S. TV Shows Losing Potency Around World” by Suzanne Kapner.

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