The Anthology Format: Trends in Europe

Image: Black Mirror, Netflix

Imported from radio plays, one of the earliest successful formats in TV was the anthology drama, where the tone of the show stayed consistent, but the plot and characters changed either every season, or every episode.

This type format has had something of a resurgence recently with several high-profile anthology titles released, such as the sci-fi themed Black Mirror and the true crime dramatizations of American Crime Story; and most recently, Snapchat’s own crime series entry called True Crime/Uncovered. The series is in the format of six episodes of only 5 minutes each, produced exclusively by Condé Nast Entertainment for Snapchat.

Parrot Analytics has leveraged its global TV demand data spanning 100+ countries to discover the current trends in demand for anthology titles across Europe.
 

What anthology titles are Europeans watching in 2018?

By averaging the demand for all anthology series in the continent during January and February 2018, the most popular titles of this type are revealed:

By far the most popular anthology title in Europe so far in 2018 is Netflix’s dystopian sci-fi drama Black Mirror, known for completely changing the premise of the show each episode to examine a different facet of technology’s impact on modern society.

This is followed by American Horror Story, originally from the USA’s FX channel. This show takes the season anthology approach, where each season is a self-contained story that is set in different locations and time periods from those of another season. In a similar fashion, crime drama Fargo (also from FX) sets each of its seasons in a different year.
 

What trends exist for the anthology format across Europe?

For each region in Europe, we now aggregate the demand for each show according to the genre it is part of. By comparing these regional averages to the European average, we can observe how demand for each genre of anthology titles changes across the continent:

Western Europe has by far the highest demand for Action and Adventure anthology titles, with that region having almost 200% more demand than average, making up for other areas of Europe not being as enthusiastic about the genre.

The only anthology genre that Scandinavian viewers enjoy more than Europe as a whole is comedies, as the region has the second highest average demand for anthology comedy series.

On similar lines, if you are producing an anthology series aimed at children, then Eastern Europe is the region that will likely appreciate it most. Finally, Southern Europe is the second best place for anthology documentaries after Western Europe.

If we no frame up the data by region, we can see how the different parts of Europe have very different overall demand for anthology series.

The above chart shows that Western Europe is the region that enjoys anthology series the most, with every single genre having more demand than the European average. This is likely because Western Europe and specifically the UK is one of the main producers of anthology shows; of the European top ten anthology series, four were British while six were American.

Eastern Europe is the second best region for overall anthology title demand, although it has as many genres below the continent’s average than it does above.

At the other end of the scale, all six anthology genres in Central Europe have less demand than the Europe average for each. However, Scandinavia is the region that overall has the least demand for anthology titles. It seems that while the Nordic countries are well-known for their thoughtful crime series, viewers there like to pick a premise and stick with it.

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