French TV Exec Explains the New TV Biz Paradigm

It’s interesting – and sad – watching how everyone else is catching on to how TV works now while American networks and studios just snarl and sue their audiences. For example:

Matthieu Viala, CEO of French drama producer Makever - and kind of a hottie,  no?
Matthieu Viala, CEO of French drama producer Makever – and kind of a hottie, no?

by Matthieu Viala

Writing is the heart of our industry and continues to be the cornerstone of the TV world, despite the rapid and profound changes occurring.

These changes, however, have raised new issues: does writing have to adapt to new consumptions, or do viewers have to adapt to what writers want to tell?

70 years ago, right at the onset of TV, formats were created in order to fit with the available model: A one-hour TV show was to tell a longer dramatic story and a series of half an hour episodes, was aimed at making viewers laugh. For many years since, broadcasters and producers have followed this pattern and offered content, based on these preset formats.

Since the beginning of the 21st century, things have evolved. Nowadays, the willingness of writers to tell longer stories matches with the need of the broadcasters to air addictive long running shows; and this new concern induces new models.

Pay TV has the revenue to be innovative by spending money on building the best creative teams (often a great writer and producer) in order to always offer the best programmes to their subscribers. On free TV, obviously the stakes are slightly different.

The way viewers are choosing and watching their content is changing too. Viewers are more than happy to reach for the TV remote and flick between channels if they are not grabbed instantly. It only takes a matter of seconds before they decide if they want to invest in a programme, therefore almost every scene has to be engaging. All the European countries are following this course, and the pace is accelerating.

Nowadays, there are unlimited ways to tell stories. The most important concern is what the creator wants to say, and what the best format for them to tell it is.

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