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Broadcasters tap emotions

News, 16 January 2015

BRUSSELS: Broadcasters around the world are looking to gain the attention of viewers by seeking an emotional response rather than innovating, a new study has said.

Proven genres are being brought up-to-date or enhanced with the use of new technologies "in a context of moderate risk-taking", according to a review of international television trends produced by Eurodata TV Worldwide.

"Cult programmes, family challenges, anxiety-provoking atmospheres, or, on the contrary, stunning atmospheres – all the ingredients are there to bring television viewers together around the small screen for a great show," it said.

Animal and nature documentaries in particular have benefited from new image technology such as ultra-high definition "which reinforces the viewer's sensation of immersion in the image".

Technological innovations have also helped give a makeover to some tired entertainment programs, along with new game rules and new hosts.

The Scandinavian version of reality show Big Brother, for example, attracted a large number of new young viewers with a developed multi-screen system which prolonged the experience when not broadcasting.

Spin-offs remain a tried and tested option that "offer viewers new universes whilst also creating or reinforcing their brand identity".

In the US, police procedural NCIS is being rolled out from city to city, while in Turkey the hugely successful Muhteşem Yüzyıl series (the Magnificent Century, based on the life and relationships of Suleiman the Magnificent) has spawned Kösem Sultan, the story of one of the most powerful women in Ottoman history.

Family and relationships are also at the heart of many more contemporary programs, albeit with a twist: in England, 50 ways to Kill your Mammy has the host's 71-year old mother testing her courage and strength around the world, while in the US, Tied to Mom is a literal title with adult offspring fastened to their mother with a rope for three days.

The use of dark and worrying atmospheres, sometimes inspired by true events, is another way of attracting audiences back. An Irish crime thriller, An Bronntanas, more than doubled the average scores for the slot.

The report noted that the real dynamism in the TV market was coming from three very different regions. Programmes from South Korea and Latin America are being adapted for the US market, while Africa is producing more local content rather than buying it in from abroad.

Data sourced from Médiametrie; additional content by Warc staff