Kiev Media Week 2017: Television as Business

This week opened in Kiev the MRM-organized show Kiev Media Week, and one of the biggest event has been the 8th Conference Television as Business 2017, where leading TV brands and media experts discussed the hot topics of the industry, talked about recipes for solving these problems and shared their experience in successfully implementing media projects.

Piracy in Ukraine hasn’t been shrinking; instead, it’s been growing a lot – now it has almost equaled the TV advertising market in size. Such opinion was voiced by Vladyslav Ryashin, general producer at StarMedia, during Summit of Media Leaders panel discussion, which took place during KMW international forum. It is worth noting that TV advertising market in Ukraine is estimated at USD 220-250 million.

Besides, in the opinion of ICTV director-president Oleksandr Bogutsky, now the control scheme over piracy has been broken. After the Law on Film Production Support was adopted, there was an expectation that fighting piracy will be simplified: say, when a content supplier or producer found their projects on some other website, he/she would only need to send a request for their removal. Then, if the website owner refused to act, the copyrighter could send the letter to the provider, and that organization would block the domain. Now, when since May 2017 State Service of Intellectual Property has ceased its activities, and its authority was instead given to the Ministry of Trade and Economic Development, there is no template of a letter which could be send to the providers in the said circumstances.

On the other hand, due to the government adopting quotas for state language on air of TV stations, the productions are facing some difficulties not simply with creating high-quality content for the minimal funds available at the market but with creating content as such. The thing is, as Ryashin explains, that a TV channel produces content in-house, which can be in any language, including Russian, but something made by a production house is considered national, so it cannot be in Russian. Therefore, the TV channel is obliged to dub it. Moreover, if the project has been created in Ukrainian, it – as a finished product, not a format – is harder to sell abroad, because Ukrainian-speaking audience is significantly smaller than Russian-speaking one. Creating project in two languages means increasing the budget by at least one and a half times. And in the end, it might be a project with no returns on investment.

As for the expenses, in the opinion of Bogutsky, Ukrainian TV channels have to spend at least USD 30-40,000 per episode of the series, which 'is still watchable', and the payback will be only about 10 thousand USD. A sitcom can be broadcast about five times; a drama series, two in most cases. In Russian, the potential for returns is higher because the project can be sold to Russia, CIS countries, and catalogues of Russian VOD services.

'Of course, we are ready to invest between 150 and 200 thousand USD in one episode', added Ryashin. 'Still, in the UK the production costs for one episode of the series are €800,000 on average', concluded.

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