White Paper
Film, TV and VoD market in Ukraine: Analytical Studies and Reviews
KYIV MEDIA WEEK 2021

Media business. Reload: New Challenges and New Opportunities

Two days, 18 panels, 70 experts from 15 countries, 300 live participants with a total of over 3,000 online guests from 37 countries! — this is the 11th International Media Forum KYIV MEDIA WEEK 2021.

Media business. Reload is the main focus of this year’s KMW, which perfectly reflects the current state of affairs in the content industry around the world in general and particularly in Ukraine. Our lives have been divided into "before" and "after" the COVID-19 pandemic. The world has changed, we are all adapting to a "new normal", both in our personal worldview and in our social and professional lives.

Risk projection and developing plan B or even C and D — are now a mandatory routine in any business. At the same time, these changes have opened up space for creativity. This is a new page of history, waiting to be filled with new meanings, and the possibilities to experiment and creative solutions are endless.

The diverse discussion panels and sections of KMW 2021 focused on the joint search for these new meanings and possibilities in the various sectors and areas of the audiovisual industry – film, TV, digital. Leading Ukrainian and international experts, representatives of cross-sectional agencies, top managers of the key industry players have discussed the issues of content production and distribution, co-production, digitalization, finding new formats of cooperation, and much more.

Not to drown in the whirlpool of change, it is now more necessary than ever to keep track of the latest trends and be ready to respond to the new challenges at all times. And for this reason our analytics department, in cooperation with MBR, has prepared five analytical studies and reviews providing industry players with the information they need to effectively adapt to the new realities. Overviews of the current state of various aspects of the Ukrainian TV, film and emerging VoD industry – find all this in this year's KYIV MEDIA WEEK White Paper.

Many thanks to all participants and partners of KYIV MEDIA WEEK 2021 for being with us this year. And see you again next year!

Kateryna Udut
CEO of Media Resources Management
1
TV Viewing Trends
Ukrainian TV in 2020: air structure in terms of types of content broadcast
1
TV Viewing Trends
Ukrainian TV in 2020: air structure in terms of types of content broadcast
One of the main trends in recent years on Ukrainian television has been the strengthening of the position of non-scripted TV shows and the reduction in the total airtime of TV series. It is worth noting that 2016 was a watershed year in this regard: non-scripted shows overtook scripted TV series by a wide margin in terms of total broadcast time, although back in 2014 the situation was the opposite. In the meantime, the position of nationally produced TV series has been strengthening year by year since 2015, when, due to the restrictive measures introduced by the government, there was much less Russian content on Ukrainian TV channels. Furthermore, films have "regained" their previously lost positions in 2020.

To assess the changes regarding the content structure of Ukrainian TV broadcasting in 2020, the Media Resources Management company has analyzed the air structure of six major Ukrainian nationwide broadcasters (Ukraine, ICTV, 1+1, STB, Novy Channel, and Inter).

The total broadcast time of each channel amounted to around 8,770 hours. All content aired was divided into the main categories: series, TV movies and feature films (hereinafter referred to as films), non-scripted TV shows and programs (hereinafter referred to as shows), animation, documentaries, news, advertising, and announcements. The "other" category was also formed, which included live streams, concerts, short films, and inter-program bumpers. Thus every second of the airtime of the largest Ukrainian broadcasters was grouped and analyzed.

The results of the study showed that the most aired type of TV content in Ukraine in 2020 is TV shows and programs. Their share in the broadcasting of the top six Ukrainian TV channels accounted for about 35.9% of the total airtime last year. In absolute numbers, it equals around 18,900 hours of broadcasting, which is almost 250 hours less compared to the similar results of 2019.

The second most broadcast type of TV content in Ukraine in 2020 was TV series. They together accounted for about 18.2% of airtime (about 9,600 hours of broadcasting), which is 220 hours less than in 2019.

Traditionally, TV movies and feature films entered the top three in terms of total broadcast time with a share of 15.6% (more than 8,200 hours of broadcasting). It is this category of content that showed the biggest increase compared to 2019 – by more than 1,000 hours.

In general, the structure of the TV airtime of the six largest Ukrainian TV channels in terms of total airtime of different types of content is as follows:

Structure of Ukrainian TV airtime in 2020, %

Last year, comparing the air structure of the top six Ukrainian TV channels with the figures for 2014, we noted drastic changes in the Ukrainian TV landscape over the past few years. Back in 2014, TV series were the undisputed leaders in terms of total broadcast time with a share of 31%, while TV programs and shows constituted about 21% of the total airtime.

In 2020, the trends towards an increase in the total volume of broadcasting of motion pictures and TV films, as well as a slight decrease in the volume of broadcasting of TV shows, outlined in 2019, continued. However, the total volume of series content, which increased in 2019, declined in 2020.
In addition, there was a slight decrease in TV ad time in 2020. This trend has been observed for the second year in a row: after a permanent five-year growth in 2014-2018, the TV ad airtime of the TOP-6 Ukrainian broadcasters slightly decreased in 2019-2020.

Also, compared to 2019, the volume of animated content and news broadcast has reduced, while the amount of documentary projects aired has slightly increased.

To better understand the changes in the Ukrainian TV broadcasting landscape over the past year, we compared the total airtime of the main types of content for 2014-2020.

Structure of Ukrainian TV airtime in 2014-2020

(hours: minutes: seconds)

In terms of percentage (concerning the types of content aired in 2014-2020), the structure of the Ukrainian TV airtime is as follows.

Shares of different types of content on Ukrainian TV in 2014-2020, %


UKRAINE

TV series are the dominant type of content on the air of the Ukraine channel: their total share in the total structure of the channel's broadcasting was about 35.6% in 2020. In absolute numbers, it is almost 3,130 hours of broadcasting, which is 210 hours more than a year ago. With this indicator, the Ukraine channel confidently holds the leading position in the ranking of the channels with the most number of TV series in our country.

The air structure of the Ukraine channel in 2020, %

After two years (2018-2019) of a gradual decrease in the amount of airtime devoted to the broadcasting of TV series, the broadcaster increased this indicator in 2020, returning to the level of 2016.

At the same time, after 5 years of a gradual increase in the total broadcast time of TV shows, in 2020, for the first time in a long time, less airtime was given to this type of content compared to the previous year (by 310 hours).
However, the shares of news, films, and live streams are decreasing year by year (2020 was not an exception). That being said, the Ukraine channel is the channel with the least films on its program schedule among the top-6 Ukrainian broadcasters analyzed.

The air structure of the Ukraine channel in 2014-2020

(hours: minutes: seconds)


ICTV

Films were the most common type of content on ICTV in terms of total airtime in 2020, accounting for about 29.2% of the total airtime last year. Compared to 2019, this indicator increased by more than 650 hours and exceeded 2,560 hours, which is an absolute record for this channel for the last 7 years.

Previously, during the last three years, the leader in terms of total broadcast time on ICTV was TV shows and programs. In 2020, shows were the second most aired type of content, with TV series coming in third.

The air structure of the ICTV channel in 2020, %

Compared to 2019, ICTV has increased the total airtime not only for films, but also for advertising, news, and live streams. At the same time, the total airtime allocated to TV shows decreased significantly: compared to 2019, this figure dropped by more than 430 hours. There was also a reduction of almost 220 hours last year in the time allocated to TV series.

The air structure of the ICTV channel in 2014-2020

(hours: minutes: seconds)


1+1

TV shows and unscripted programs form the core of 1+1's airtime schedule. In total, they accounted for about 44.1% of the channel's total broadcast time last year. With this indicator, 1+1 became a leader among the top six Ukrainian broadcasters by the number of TV shows and programs on its air in 2020. The share of series content in the airtime of the 1+1 channel in 2019 was about 12.2%, the share of motion pictures and TV films constituted 11.1%.

The air structure of the 1+1 channel in 2020, %

Compared to the figures for 2019, the airtime devoted to broadcasting TV shows in 2020 increased by 500 hours. In the meantime, 1+1 has significantly reduced the total airtime of series content by more than 610 hours compared to 2019. The number and, consequently, the volume of the films aired increased for the first time in the last six years (in 2020, the 1+1 channel broadcast almost 410 more hours of films than the year before). Comparing the channel's air structure in 2020 and 2014, one can see how much the amount of time devoted to broadcasting TV shows has grown and how the total time devoted to series has decreased.

The air structure of the 1+1 channel in 2014-2020

(hours: minutes: seconds)


STB

The STB channel has lost its status as a leader among the top six Ukrainian broadcasters in terms of the volume of TV shows and programs on its air in 2020. The share of this type of content on STB in 2020 was 39.4% (a year earlier, this figure reached 48.4%). Series increased their share of the channel's total airtime last year to 29.5% (from 21% in 2019). The third type of content in terms of total broadcasting time on this channel was news, which accounted for 6.1% in 2020 (compared with 4.8% in 2019). Films are in fourth place with 4.7%.

The air structure of the STB channel in 2020, %

Even though STB is not the leader in the Ukrainian TV market in terms of series broadcasting, the total airtime dedicated to this type of content increased by almost 760 hours in 2020 compared to 2019. By almost the same amount (765 hours), the total airtime of TV shows and programs decreased in 2020. There was also a noticeable increase in the amount of news broadcasting (by more than 120 hours compared to 2019) and a drop in the number of films broadcasting (by almost 80 hours).
While in 2015, the total airtime of TV series on the STB channel was about 730 hours, in 2020, this figure increased to almost 2,570 hours (which is an absolute record in this regard for the channel over the past seven years).

The air structure of the STB channel in 2014-2020

(hours: minutes: seconds)


NOVY CHANNEL

TV shows and programs were the most common type of content on Novy Channel in 2020, accounting for about 38.6% of the channel's total airtime for the year. Films were the second most common type of content with a share of 32.6% of total airtime. At the same time, TV series constituted only about 4.7% of the Novy Channel's total broadcast time in 2020. It should be noted that Novy Channel is the leader in terms of animation broadcasting among the top six broadcasters: the total share of this type of content in the channel programming reached 7.3% last year.

The air structure of the Novy Channel in 2020, %

Compared to 2019, Novy Channel broadcast 230 more hours of TV shows and almost 580 fewer hours of TV series in 2020. Compared to 2014, the number of hours devoted to shows and programs almost doubled, while TV series broadcasting decreased almost seven times (in 2020, the total air time of TV series on Novy Channel decreased by more than half compared to 2019 and showed an all-time low for the channel). As for the films broadcasting, its cumulative air time increased by almost 460 hours compared to 2019 (and almost doubled compared to 2014).

The air structure of the Novy Channel in 2014-2020

(hours: minutes: seconds)


INTER

In terms of the main types of content broadcast, the air structure of Inter in 2020 was significantly different from other TOP-6 channels due to a rather large share of the documentary content – about 7.9% of the total airtime of the channel for the year 2020. This was due to the presence on the channel of a series of programs of a Russian production "The investigation led by Leonid Kanevsky", which we have classified as a documentary project since 2014. In 2020, this program accounted for 644 out of 696 hours of this type of content on the air of Inter. It should be noted that the share of total airtime of TV series on the Inter channel was 12%. The main types of content aired were TV shows and programs (36.9%) and films (13.9%).

The air structure of the Inter channel in 2020, %

The amount of time allocated to TV shows and programs on Inter has been growing for seven years in a row. Compared to 2019, this figure has increased by more than 250 hours (compared to 2014, it increased almost two and a half times by about 1,850 hours). Compared to 2019, the broadcasting of TV series on Inter grew by almost 210 hours (the share of series content rose from 9.6% to 12%), mainly due to projects of European production. At the same time, the total broadcast time of films decreased by more than 290 hours compared to 2019.

The air structure of the Inter channel in 2014-2020

(hours: minutes: seconds)

All data above in the tables and charts: Media Resources Management

2
Series on Ukrainian TV
The transition from Russian to Ukrainian content
2
Series on Ukrainian TV
The transition from Russian to Ukrainian content
Looking at the seven-year dynamics, the structure of scripted series content on Ukrainian TV in terms of the country of origin has undergone dramatic changes. First of all, it concerns content made in Russia, the volume of which has decreased on Ukrainian TV tenfold since the annexation of Crimea and the outbreak of military activities in Donbass. For example, the total volume of broadcasting of Russian TV series decreased from 11,153 hours in 2014 to 337 hours in 2020 (more than 33 times). At the same time, the total broadcast time of Ukraine-produced TV series increased from 1,336 hours in 2014 to 6,935 hours in 2020 (more than fivefold).

In terms of the total share of broadcasting on Ukrainian TV, series of Russian origin accounted in 2014 for about 69%, while Ukrainian series accounted for only 7% of all broadcast series content.

Series on Ukrainian TV in 2014 by country of origin (of the total air time of series broadcasting)

In 2020, a radically opposite situation was observed, with the total broadcast time of series produced in Ukraine reaching 72%, while the share of Russian series content dropped to 4%. Moreover, in 2020 total broadcast time of the Ukrainian series exceeded the total time of the Russian series in 2015.

It should be noted that there are fewer and fewer series made in the USA on Ukrainian TV, and this indicator is steadily decreasing (from 1,213 hours in 2014 to 619 hours in 2020).
At the same time, the share of the Turkish series rose from 5% in 2014 to 8% in 2020. For the first time, the share of Turkish TV series surpassed that of American series in 2019, accounting for 10% of the total airtime of TV series in Ukraine. In 2020, this trend continued, although the total share of Turkish TV series decreased due to the significant growth of Ukrainian TV series.

Series on Ukrainian TV in 2020 by country of origin (of the total air time of series broadcasting)

Analyzing the seven-year dynamics of the scripted series broadcasting on Ukrainian TV, the situation looks as follows in terms of the country of origin of TV series broadcast over these years:

Total broadcasting time of scripted series on Ukrainian TV by the country of origin, 2014-2020

(hours)

In addition to the broadcasting time of the aired TV series content, we also calculated the number of TV series (i.e. titles) that aired during 2015-2020 on each of the top-six Ukrainian broadcasters. A total of 536 TV series were on the air of the top-six Ukrainian channels in 2015, of which 326 were produced in Russia, 86 in Ukraine, 57 - in co-production with Ukraine, and 39 were produced in the USA.

Number of TV series and their countries of origin on the air of the top-six Ukrainian channels, 2015

The situation with the broadcasting of scripted series by Ukrainian top-six channels in 2016 differs significantly from that of the previous year. In particular, the total number of TV series decreased to 441. The main reason for this was the gradual withdrawal of Russian content from the market, which, although it continued to occupy a significant share of Ukrainian TV airtime, still lost its position as the undisputed leader of Ukrainian airtime (in terms of series content) for the first time in the history of Ukrainian TV.
Total air time of TV series produced in Ukraine exceeded for the first time that of Russian series (the difference was over 600 hours in favor of Ukrainian content). At the same time, in terms of the number of titles (not the total broadcast time), there were more Russian series than Ukrainian ones in 2016 – 197 and 137 respectively. There were 55 series co-produced with Ukraine in 2016 and 32 US-produced series.

Number of TV series and their countries of origin on the air of the top-six Ukrainian channels, 2016

In 2017, the total airtime of Ukrainian TV series on the top-six channels amounted to about 4,140 hours. At the same time, the airtime of TV series produced in Russia remained almost the same as in 2016 – around 3,480 hours. In terms of the number of titles aired by the top-six broadcasters, the Russian series lost very little compared to 2016 (194 titles in 2017 compared to 197 in 2016), but there were more series produced in Ukraine: 163 in 2017 compared to 137 in 2016.
The number of co-productions with Ukraine has also increased: 71 in 2017 compared to 55 a year earlier. On the other hand, the number of US-produced series dropped to 23 compared to 32 in the previous year.

Number of TV series and their countries of origin on the air of the top-six Ukrainian channels, 2017

2018 was a watershed year in terms of the total number of Ukraine-produced TV series compared to the number of Russian series on the air of the top-six Ukrainian TV channels. Specifically, the top-six Ukrainian broadcasters aired 225 Ukrainian series and 89 Russian series during the year. In terms of total airtime, the shift was even more striking. The total airtime of the Ukrainian TV series increased by more than 1,150 hours to 5,300 hours compared to the previous year. All the while, the total airtime of Russian TV series dropped from 3,480 hours in 2017 to just 562 hours in 2018 (more than 6 times!).
There were 250 fewer hours of scripted series co-produced with Ukraine than in the previous year. However, in terms of the number of titles, this indicator remained at the same level as in the previous year – 71. As for the US-produced TV series, their number rose significantly in 2018, with an increase of about 380 hours in airtime (from 993 hours in 2017 to 1,376 hours in 2018) and an increase in the number of scripted series titles from 23 to 29.

Number of TV series and their countries of origin on the air of the top-six Ukrainian channels, 2018

2019 marked an increase in the number of Ukraine-produced scripted series on the air of the top-six Ukrainian broadcasters from 225 to 285, and an increase in the total airtime of Ukrainian TV series by more than 1,000 hours (from 5,300 hours in 2018 to 6,340 hours in 2019).
The total number of the series produced in Russia dropped from 89 in 2018 to 48 in 2019. There were 60 co-productions with Ukraine, but only 21 US-produced scripted series.

Number of TV series and their countries of origin on the air of the top-six Ukrainian channels, 2019

In 2020, the total number of the scripted series on the air of Ukrainian top-six channels increased to 493 (compared to 445 a year earlier). At the same time, the growth was due exclusively to series produced in Ukraine: their number increased from 285 in 2019 to 380 in 2020 (mainly due to the "Ukraine" and STB channels).
There were 43 co-productions with Ukraine in 2020, only 32 Russian series, and the number of American TV series was reduced to 15.

Number of TV series and their countries of origin on the air of the top-six Ukrainian channels, 2020

Of course, the overall totals of the top-six Ukrainian TV channels are only an average index, as each of the channels is different and has chosen its strategy concerning the series broadcasting. Therefore, below we will dwell in more detail on each of the channels.

UKRAINE

Ukraine TV channel is the undisputed leader of Ukrainian TV in terms of series production and series broadcasting. While the total volume of TV series decreased from over 4,100 hours in 2014 to 3,100 hours in 2020, the increase in the number of TV series produced in Ukraine is noteworthy in 2020. In particular, when in 2014, the share of Ukrainian series on the Ukraine channel was only 7% (in absolute terms 292 hours per year), in 2020 the share of these TV series reached 93% (2,906 hours). The volume of TV series produced in Russia dropped from an impressive 3,468 hours in 2014 to modest 87 hours in 2019.

The structure of the scripted series in terms of the country of origin on the Ukraine channel in 2020 looks as follows.

Series aired on the Ukraine channel in 2020 by country of origin, % of total airtime

From a seven-year perspective, the structure of TV series on the Ukraine channel from the point of view of countries of origin is as follows.

Scripted series on the Ukraine channel by country of origin, 2014-2020

(hours: minutes: seconds)


ICTV

When it comes to TV series, their total broadcast time in 2020 has slightly decreased compared to 2019. The drop is by no means critical (just over 200 hours) and is far from the volume of series broadcasting cuts in 2015-2016 (for reference: in 2014, ICTV devoted over 2,800 hours of airtime to TV series, while in 2016 this figure barely exceeded 1,450 hours). Whereas the share of TV series produced in Russia on the channel's air decreased from 74% in 2014 to 1% in 2020. The share of TV series produced in Ukraine increased from 3% in 2014 to 89% in 2020 (in absolute terms – from less than 100 hours in 2014 to almost 1,200 hours in 2020).

It is also important to note a significant reduction in the airtime of US-made series. While in 2015-2018, their share in the entire series line-up (in terms of total airtime, rather than the number of titles) ranged from 17-32%, in 2020 the share of the US-made series in the total volume of series broadcast on the ICTV channel has dropped to 3%.

The structure of the scripted series in terms of the country of origin on the ICTV channel in 2020 looks as follows.

Series aired on the ICTV channel in 2020 by country of origin, % of total airtime

Scripted series on the ICTV channel by country of origin, 2014-2020

(hours: minutes: seconds)


1+1

Analyzing the series content on 1+1, it is worth noting that about a third of the total airtime devoted to series slots is taken up by series produced in Turkey. This being said, the total airtime of the Turkish series has decreased more than twice compared to 2019 (in 2019, the Turkish series accounted for more than half of all TV series on 1+1). Ukrainian series in 2020 accounted for around 47% of total TV series airtime (compared to 37% in 2019). However, in absolute terms, the airtime allocated to the Ukrainian series has decreased from almost 630 hours in 2019 to 511 hours in 2020.

The structure of the scripted series in terms of the country of origin on the 1+1 channel in 2020 looks as follows.

Series aired on the 1+1 channel in 2020 by country of origin, % of total airtime

Scripted series on the 1+1 channel by country of origin, 2014-2020

(hours: minutes: seconds)


STB

STB channel has been increasing the volume of scripted series content on its air year after year. According to the results of 2020, the total airtime of the series exceeded 2,580 hours, which is a historical maximum for the channel.

Another record of the broadcaster is the share of series produced in Ukraine, which in 2020 accounted for about 1,880 hours of broadcasting. That exceeds the total time of all-origin series broadcasting in 2019.

The total share of Ukrainian series on the channel's air in 2020 was 73% (for comparison, the total broadcasting volume of Ukrainian series in 2014 was only 12%).

The structure of the scripted series in terms of the country of origin on the STB channel in 2020 looks as follows.

Series aired on the STB channel in 2020 by country of origin, % of total airtime

Scripted series on the STB channel by country of origin, 2014-2020

(hours: minutes: seconds)


NOVY CHANNEL

Scripted series content on the air of Novy Channel is by no means dominant. However, in terms of the countries of origin of this content, the channel has undergone dramatic changes in the last seven years. First of all, it should be noted that in 2015-2017, the channel did not show any Ukrainian-made TV series at all. In 2018, they did appear: two TV series were broadcast with a total airtime of 53 hours (6% of all TV series air volume shown on the channel that year). In 2019, the duration of the Ukrainian series broadcast on the Novy Channel was 212 hours (21% of the total TV series time), but in 2020, this figure dropped again to almost 56 hours. At the same time, the share of TV series produced in Russia on the broadcaster's air decreased from 87% in 2014 to absolute zero in 2020.

It should be noted that Novy Channel remains among the leaders of Ukrainian TV in terms of the total airtime of US-made TV series (346 hours in 2020).

The structure of the scripted series in terms of the country of origin on the Novy channel in 2020 looks as follows.

Series aired on the Novy Channel in 2020 by country of origin, % of total airtime

Scripted series on the Novy Channel by country of origin, 2014-2020

(hours: minutes: seconds)


INTER

The amount of time allocated to scripted series on the Inter channel in 2020 slightly increased compared to 2019 (that year it reached its historical low: less than 10% of the channel's total airtime). At the same time, if one compares it with 2019, the airtime of the Russian-produced series decreased by more than 50 hours, while the airtime of the Ukrainian series slightly increased and the airtime of series of European production more than doubled (no American series were broadcast on Inter last year).

The structure of the scripted series in terms of the country of origin on the Inter channel in 2020 looks as follows.

Series aired on the Inter channel in 2020 by country of origin, % of total airtime

Scripted series on the Inter channel by country of origin, 2014-2020

(hours: minutes: seconds)

All data above in the tables and charts: Media Resources Management

3
Wish List of Ukrainian Broadcasters
Broadcasters' top managers on program strategies and current trends in the Ukrainian TV market
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Wish List of Ukrainian Broadcasters
Broadcasters' top managers on program strategies and current trends in the Ukrainian TV market
Last year, the traditional KYIV MEDIA WEEK panel discussion "Wish List of Ukrainian Broadcasters" was replaced by an analytical review of the same name prepared by Media Business Reports based on interviews with the heads of the largest (both in terms of ratings and production volumes) Ukrainian TV channels. This year, we again talked to the top managers of the broadcasters about the program strategies and current trends of the Ukrainian TV market in terms of content and TV viewing and included in the study another aspect: factors affecting the TV business, from purely market-based to socio-demographic ones.
Interviewees of the study:
Maksym Kryvytskyi
Head of the TV business at 1+1 media and General Producer at 1+1 channel
Anastasiia Shteinhauz
Managing Director of ICTV
Victoria Korogod
CEO of Ukraine channel
Liudmila Semchuk
Managing Director of STB
Olha Zadorozhna
Managing Director of Novy Channel
Overall, the TOP-5 Ukrainian TV channels have regained their pre-pandemic production volumes, having adapted both financially and logistically to the requirements of the new reality. Broadcasters continue to rely on TV series (including format series), turn once again to big shows, intensify daytime programming, and they also note an increase in audience interest in news and other information products.
What distinguishes this year from the previous one, though, is a change of discourse. Previously the steadily growing digitalization was perceived rather as a threat, now it is seen as a source of new opportunities, from the ease of delivery of content to the consumer to the co-financing of projects. Ukrainian TV channels have finally recognized themselves as media brands, who would rather actively cooperate with digitalization than compete with it, and many of them have already taken their first steps in this direction.

2020 vs. 2021
While in 2020, the COVID-19 crisis had a noticeable impact on production plans (the launch of many new projects was delayed by six months on average) as well as financial plans of the broadcasters, in 2021, the situation has leveled off. TV channels have started to organize processes considering the pandemic as a factor that appeared in earnest and for the long haul. "The COVID-19 danger is not going anywhere, despite vaccination at the national level and systematic vaccination of businesses. We are all in anxious anticipation of the third wave and we are not saving on safety protocols," says Victoria Korogod. She admits (like all her colleagues) that the situation did not become easier in 2021:
Aggressive competition does not allow us to save money, only advanced technological solutions can help us with that, and we are implementing them promptly. As for production inflation, it is present, and this year, it remains at a fairly high level.
— Victoria Korogod
At the same time, everyone has learned to be as flexible as possible: "Now, even if a new lockdown occurs, we will be able to adapt quickly because we understand how to do it," states Maksym Kryvytskyi, adding that security protocol costs are now included in project budgets permanently.

It is worth mentioning that during the crisis period, none of the Ukrainian broadcasters seriously ventured into the "pandemic" content, like zoom shows. Filming of projects with crowd scenes, travel shows, and TV series was limited, but the lack of fresh content was compensated by the archives or film screenings.

The majority of the projects that were postponed in 2020 were/will be released in 2021 or have been scheduled for 2022. In addition, channels did not sit idle during the forced downtime and approached the new season with a lot of new ideas and know-hows.

As for the changes in the lineup, the most noticeable ones occurred on Novy Channel: "Previously the lineup was built according to the vertical principle, now it is built according to the horizontal one," explains Olha Zadorozhna. "This spring we have fixed 19:00 as a time slot for premieres, 21:00 as a movie time slot, and we have started to build a logical lineup closer to the morning. This allows us to get additional sponsorship sales – we maintain contact with a sponsor not once a week, but every day, which we have managed to achieve without losing share." In addition, by the beginning of the fall season 2021, Novy Channel rebranded itself without changing its positioning. A little earlier the Ukraine TV channel had also updated its self-presentation, changing its slogan from Channel No. 1 to Channel of Big Events, which includes big shows, broadcasts of major sporting events, event content (e.g. concerts dedicated to important national dates), and top Ukrainian box office movies.

Another important market change has happened in the Ukrainian TV landscape. The Alliance that united the sales houses StarLightMedia, Media Group Ukraine, and InterMediaGroup collapsed, which resulted in a new configuration of advertising sales (SLM + 1+1 media and MGU + IMG). Though TV channels have not felt it yet, this change had an impact on their work with advertising. According to Maksym Kryvytskyi, all media groups are focused on improving the efficiency in advertising: "We make rearrangements so that commercial appearances within TV channels gather maximum coverage. We use different ways of arranging commercial interruptions within the lineup to make it natural for the audience, but also useful for the advertiser. Competitors, by the way, are also paying more attention to commercial interruptions. In general, we see that everyone in the market is very much advanced in this regard."

However, there has been no change in the language configuration of Ukrainian TV channels. According to the Law of Ukraine "On Ensuring the Functioning of the Ukrainian Language as the State Language," starting from 16 July 2021, all Russian-language films and TV series must be broadcast with Ukrainian dubbing or voice-over. However, this contradicts the 75 percent quota for the Ukrainian-language content required by the Law of Ukraine "On Television and Radio Broadcasting." So, there is a legal conflict: TV channels are now guided by quotas, although they are actively shooting Ukrainian-language material and dubbing archive content, getting ready to switch to 100% of the Ukrainian-language content, when the whole market will do so.

So far, the experiment of those who changed the lineups on 16 July (but soon returned to the quota) shows that the viewer, who responds well to the original Ukrainian-language product, poorly perceives the adapted one: on average successful Russian-language products in dubbing lost up to 20% of indicators.

Audience and TV Viewing
The audience's content demands have not changed over the past year: these are informational projects to keep abreast of events and entertaining projects to distract themselves from these events. "We understand that the stress that surrounds the viewer is growing, and the viewer comes to us for a breath of fresh air, a charge of energy, and positivity. The demand for comedy, for light content, has become significantly higher than a year ago," says Liudmila Semchuk.

At the same time, it has become more difficult to predict the viewer's behavior. In the spring of 2020, with the beginning of the first lockdown, the expected pre-pandemic decline of Total TV did not happen, as the whole country was forced to sit at home and watch TV. Naturally, in the spring of 2021, during the next lockdown, everyone expected an increase in TV viewing again, but there was none.

"When the first quarantine came to an end, and the indicators generally came back to the predicted norm, we faced an interesting question: How should we make future predictions?" recalls Anastasiia Shteinhauz. "For all predictions are based on previous experience, and it is not clear yet, which experience shall be taken into account: pre-COVID-19 or during the COVID-19?" In addition, there has been a change in the panel's value over the summer, and so far, it has been very noticeable. Clearly, it hasn't changed viewer sympathies, but the picture we are working with, what we can analyze, has been strongly affected by this."

The quarantine-induced growth in content consumption has been a catalyst for the accelerated development of new delivery modes, which in turn has exacerbated the issue of television measuring
According to Liudmila Semchuk, the existing Nielsen panel in Ukraine does not keep up with the new reality, and TV channels cannot qualitatively measure the consumption of the content they produce.
"There is a certain grey area that we do not measure, we do not have full feedback from the audience," Liudmila notes. "Therefore, a number of important measurements related to measuring viewing on the Internet, on streaming platforms, are being discussed. This is not only a question for TV channels, but also advertisers and other platforms. For the picture to be complete and of high quality, we must come together, because our TV market is very small."

All this leads to global changes both on the market and in attitudes: "A TV channel, as I see it, is an obsolete word and notion," says Semchuk. "There is a product produced by STB, which you see on TV, on the Internet, on your phone, on the platform, anywhere. The market needs to learn how to measure media brands and to work with them: this is both a trend and a challenge, as well as an interest and a current complexity that we have to cope with."

Another global trend that has a significant impact on the television market is the aging of the audience, both the TV audience (young people are quicker in mastering new technologies and going into digital) and the general one.

The Ministry of Social Policy of Ukraine predicts that by 2025, 25% of the Ukrainian population will consist of people over 60 years old and 18.4% of the population will be 65+. Liudmila Semchuk, on the other hand, has a bleak demographic outlook: "We are approaching a post-Chernobyl demographic hole when the birth rate dropped drastically. Very soon the structure of the panel and in principle that of the country's population will be slightly skewed in terms of the ratio of young people to adults. The demographic downturn is getting closer, and I think it is going to affect the business, the amount of content, in one way or another. As Netflix stated, no content is too niche. There is room for everything, but what matters is the volume of audience for which that content is relevant. So, I assume that there will be less expensive content aimed at young audiences because that segment will be severely limited."

However, TV channels have been watching the outflow of the young audience for many years, and it seems they have managed to adapt to it: "Every year, the number of TV viewers is decreasing. At the same time, those who remain watch us more and for a longer time. In 2021, the number of hours of TV viewing increased to six – one might say these are real TV fans", says Maksym Kryvytskyi.

TV Series
In terms of genres, there have been no global changes in the TV channels' series wish lists, except for an increased demand for comedy. "The more affluent, economically stable a territory is, the more complex genres of TV series content are being developed there," analyses Liudmila Semchuk. "Life in Ukraine is steadily tense, there's a lot of drama and tragedy, so in terms of preference, there's still skew towards comedy. Demand for humor has increased."
Whereas 1+1, ICTV, and Novy Channel have always aired comedies, the Ukraine channel has explored this territory for the first time only this year with a 40-episode sitcom Liusia, the Intern (Люся Інтерн), a genre the broadcaster had never worked with. STB, being more familiar with tragicomedy (for example, Our Halia (Наша Галя), that is currently under development), is also going to experiment with family sitcoms, Novy Channel continues to look for stories in this genre, and 1+1 is going to broadcast a comedy series-almanac The Wild (Дикі) in the next six months.

Lucy, the intern (Люся Інтерн) – debut for the channel Ukraine in the sitcom genre
Another local trend is the love of Ukrainian TV channels for crime series, where the protagonist acts in tandem with a dog. Soon such series will appear on the air of four of the top five TV broadcasters. ICTV is preparing the seventh season of its hit series Dog (Пес), the Ukraine channel has launched a 40-episode series Toptun (Топтун), 1+1 is preparing a crime comedy Jack and London (Джек і Лондон), Novy Channel will soon release a crime comedy Polkan (Полкан). "A dog is always an interesting addition", says Maksym Kryvytskyi. "The research with focus groups revealed that 40-45% of viewers watch TV with their pets – cats and dogs. And we understand that this segment is not fully covered."

Dog (Пес) series – a real hit of the ICTV channel: the seventh season is being prepared for release
Moreover, there is a growing number of series adaptations on the market. The already mentioned sitcom Liusia, the Intern (Люся Інтерн, Carol's Second Act format) started on the air of Ukraine channel in the fall season. The dramedy My Favourite Ugly Girl (Моя улюблена Страшко, Ugly Betty format) was shown on 1+1. ICTV has released the second season of the crime series Cop from the Past (Коп з минулого, The Last Cop format). Novy Channel is adapting the sitcom Younger, and STB has The Good Doctor format on their wish list (the channel is actively looking for partners to produce the series for air and platform). Adaptations are the stories that were proven in other markets, which gives TV channels the ability to produce 40+ episode series relatively quickly, and the number of these series is gradually increasing on Ukrainian air. "It is not reasonable to start a 40-episode series from scratch because one would need several years to write 40 high-quality episodes," says Liudmila Semchuk. "During this time one can make a season of a shorter series and already try it out on the audience. So, format adaptations will appear on Ukrainian air, but we are unlikely to see original stories like that."

The 1 + 1 channel picked up the trend of serial adaptations with My Favorite Ugly Girl (Моя улюблена страшко) dramedy – an adaptation of the Ugly Betty format
As for the original stories, ICTV is preparing the detective thriller Brius (Брюс), the action and humor series Maritime Police. Chornomorsk (Морська Поліція. Чорноморськ), the crime drama Tough Measures (Круті міри), the military mini-series Tabun (Табун), the ironic crime series Hot Cop (Гарячий коп), the action series Assault (Штурм), and the channel is working on an experiment – a horizontal crime drama. "We are also developing several adventure stories, based on both historical and contemporary events. In terms of production, adventure is the most difficult genre in the world and very expensive. Therefore, adventure series are the hardest to release. Other than that, crime with comedy is our main focus," comments Anastasiia Shteinhauz.

Coffee with Cardamom (Кава з кардамоном): another example of the historical drama of the STB channel, which was continued for the second season before its premiere
In addition to the projects listed above, the Ukraine channel is finishing the production of the action series Water Police (Водна поліція) and the crime series Children's Bodyguard (Дитячий тілоохоронець), but melodrama is still one of the key genres in the series lineup of the broadcaster. STB, which has made the historical drama niche its favorite subject, will release the ten-episode series Coffee with Cardamom (Кава з кардамоном) at the end of the year, while the series was extended for the second season even before its premiere.
Speaking of sequels: STB is preparing the third and the fourth seasons of the historical drama series Love in Chains (Кріпосна), the second season of the crime series Mop (Швабра, the third season is planned for 2022), the melodrama series The Color of Passion (Колір пристрасті; the second season`s title is The Color of Revenge, Колір помсти), and the drama series Mama (Мама). ICTV has renewed the series Yurchyshyns (Юрчишини), the ironic crime series District Police Officer from DVRZ (Дільничний з ДВРЗ) and is reviewing the opportunity of a spin-off of the procedural drama Autopsy Will Show (Розтин покаже). Novy Channel is shooting comedy series Lucky House 3 (Будиночок на щастя - 3) and is planning the third season of the thriller-anthology Early Swallows (Перші ластівки). "We want more successful vertical long-form franchise series," Anastasiia Shteinhauz expresses the general idea. "But we also want to add a more complex product now and then, let's call it event-driven series: most likely horizontal, short, stylish, and appealing to an audience that doesn't usually include linear television."

Love in Chains (Кріпосна): historical series – one of the trademarks of the STB channel
Speaking of experiments, it is worth mentioning the series co-produced by TV channels together with online platforms. The announced titles include Crazy Neighbours (Скажені сусіди, 1+1 and Kyivstar TV), Jack and London (Джек і Лондон, 1+1 and MEGOGO), and Liuba (Люба, Novy Channel and MEGOGO) but the broadcasters are not limited to those. Each of them is negotiating further co-productions.

"For our small market, a partnership with an online platform is an opportunity to make a quality product and move up a notch," says Maksym Kryvytskyi. "We see that sales [on the platform] start to grow actively when a project is being aired on TV, even if it premiered on the platform, and after the break, the series releases on our TV channel."

TV channels seem to have already decided on the formula for multi-platform content that the market has been looking for in recent years. "Release on online platforms is purely a question of quality: quality script, original approach, level of production. And our desire to do a multi-platform product is probably just a desire to do content of better quality. The viewer doesn't come for obscene language or naked bodies, they come for an interesting story, characters, and drama," says Liudmila Semchuk. "We are currently developing around 30 TV series, which are beyond the budget of the Ukrainian market. These are both historical projects, which need state funding, and international ones that may be co-produced with Poland. There are stories for our platforms. They are interesting and progressive, and we will begin production of one such series next year. We have two crazy ideas on the level of Netflix or another international platform. But how to produce them? In most cases, it all comes down to financial co-production or state funding. Based on market realities, a TV channel can spend for an hour's worth of content a sum that is often enough for just a basic melodrama series. Therefore, we are open to dialogue with everyone who is looking for partnership and projects for online platforms."

Format Shows
The global trend of returning old titles with new content, which came to Ukraine before the pandemic, will give the shows a fresh coat of paint in the season 2021/2022.
After almost five years, the TV show Ukraine's Got Talent (Україна має талант), an adaptation of the Got Talent format that was closed after the ninth season, is returning on STB (probably will be released every two years). Novy Channel launched Hell's Kitchen (Пекельна кухня) based on the Hell's Kitchen format, which was already adapted by 1+1 in 2011-2013. The channel is preparing the show On the Knives (На ножах), an adaptation of Kitchen Nightmares (also produced by 1+1 in 2012 and 2016). The latter was supposed to go into production in 2020, but as Olha Zadorozhna noted, "Bad establishments were killed off by the coronavirus," so the show will start as early as the spring of 2022. A similar fate befell another reincarnation – The Fort Boyard show (in 2004, the format of Fort Boyard was adapted by 1+1; in 2012, ICTV planned to do it). The show was scheduled for fall 2020, but for obvious reasons, the shooting in France was postponed twice (so far, the premiere is planned for fall 2022). Channel Ukraine in October launches an intellectual game What? Where? When? (Що? Де? Коли?, the last season was released in 2017 on ICTV). Finally, ICTV is preparing a new entertainment show in a familiar format: "This is a western format from the category Back to the Future," says Anastasiia Shteinhauz intriguingly.

Hell's KitchenHell's Kitchen format on Novy Channel is a vivid demonstration of the trend of redefining the good old shows.
Some of the earlier adaptations that continue to be on air on 1+1 are the shows Dancing with the Stars (Танці з зірками, Strictly Come Dancing format) and The Voice of Ukraine (Голос країни, The Voice format), while The Voice Kids (Голос. Діти, The Voice Kids format) has been suspended for the next two years. The channel also renewed for a second season the last year's newcomers Masquerade (Маскарад, Mysteries in the Spotlight format) and Lip Sync Battle (Ліпсінк батл, Lip Sync Battle format). Following the introduction of the security protocol, Battle of the Psychics (Битва екстрасенсів, Psychic Challenge format) has returned on STB. Next autumn, The X-Factor (Х-фактор), which was suspended in 2020 because of the pandemic, will return on STB air. And now the leader of the fall season 2021 – The Bachelorette 2 (Холостячка-2, The Bachelorette format) is on air. The Ukraine channel, inspired by the excellent start of the show Mask (Маска, Masked Singer format), has launched the show Sing All! (Співають всі!), an adaptation of the young but globally successful format All Together Now, and is, of course, preparing a second season of the show Mask. "Despite all the difficulties, we have implemented the Mask format, and it was a hit. It has inspired us many times to keep producing the show, even though we realize we are still at the very beginning of it," admits Victoria Korogod and explains the choice of the All Together Now format: "It's obvious that audience needs singing shows, in all surveys, they are on top of the list."

The Strictly Come Dancing format was first adapted by the 1 + 1 channel in 2006. In 2011, one season of Dancing with the Stars aired on STB, and in 2017 the show returned to 1 + 1, where it is broadcast to this day.

In-house Developments
Novy Channel keeps developing its formats. In spring 2022, the broadcaster will launch the social reality show about hotel business called Revizors at the Porch (Ревізори на порозі, a spin-off from the suspended project Revizor (Ревізор)). Instead of the reality show Ladette to Lady (Від пацанки до панянки), which is an adaptation of the Ladette to Lady format and was intended for a very young audience (several years ago, the channel began to move towards an older audience, and this process will be fully completed by the spring of 2022), Novy Channel will release a new reality show Couple for a Million (Пара на мільйон). STB is developing several new reality projects (their pilots will be released next year) and is looking for characters for observational reality.

The Ukraine channel will launch its makeover I am bringing you beauty (Я везу тобі красу) this autumn, while ICTV continues to work with infotainment.

Travel Shows
Since travel projects were in the spotlight of all TV channels surveyed last year, this genre of TV shows was dealt with in a separate subparagraph. In 2021, the situation has adjusted. "Novy Channel will continue broadcasting the project Oryol i Reshka (Орел і Решка) for at least two years. The Ukraine channel, which had launched its travel projects People everywhere (Всюди люди) and Hunters for Wonders (Мисливці за дивами), has confirmed the prolongation of the latter one only. ICTV, which was looking for a travel show, has found an authoring program of military journalist Roman Bochkala about hot spots on the world map. 1+1 continues searching for a travel show apart from its hit Inside-Out World with Dmytro Komarov (Світ навиворіт з Дмитром Комаровим). "1+1 has Dima, and we're trying to reproduce him," Maksym Kryvytskyi jokes. "Although this is more of a search for a way to show the travel from the other side. Both external and internal competition are always useful. Then the content, which has already reached the heights, starts to work better, and the team, seeing the competition, does its utmost. This year I was struck by the premiere of the travel show Travel around Ukraine with Dmytro Komarov (Мандруй Україною з Дмитром Комаровим). No one expected the audience to be so responsive to this show. We got one more proof that Ukrainians love Ukraine and one can travel around Ukraine and discover completely new places."

Humor
Despite the demand for comic content, no new titles in this genre are expected in the nearest future (moreover, the Dizel Night show, which had an unsuccessful start on STB in spring 2021, will not be brought back). By spring 2022, Novy Channel plans to shoot a new season of Improv Live Show, 1+1 is preparing a transformed League of Laughter (Ліга Сміху) and continues to air Evening Quarter (Вечірній квартал) and Women's Quarter (Жіночий квартал). The project Make Comedian Laugh (Розсміши коміка), which was broadcast on the 1+1 since 2013, will start on TET this season. In addition, Maksym Kryvytskyi noted that stand-up shows, which had previously interested 1+1 up to shooting several pilots, were no longer on the channel's list of interests.

Off-time
Strengthening daytime broadcasting is still in interest of the largest Ukrainian TV channels. And while on 1+1 the issue has been resolved by the successful launch of the infotainment show Your Day (Твій день), STB continues to work in this direction. "If previously the pre-primetime was not systematically programmed, the situation has changed with the launch of Ukrainian-language projects Trace (Слід) and Blind (Сліпа)," says Liudmila Semchuk. "We produce a few more scripted reality shows, while daytime television works with TV magazines. At one time, we launched the first project of this kind All Will Be Well! (Все буде добре!). It was a very successful project and has been on the market for many years. Now we are thinking about transforming this project and begin to work on new concepts to expand the genre diversity in daytime TV." ICTV has the procedural drama Investigators (Слідчі) in pre-production. It is the first project created by the channel specifically for the daytime slot. Anastasiia Shteinhauz defines its genre as "a folk-ironic detective, something between a script and a series." The Ukraine channel, whose daytime lineup was the envy of all competitors a few years ago, is facing a new challenge: "There is a worldwide practice of long-life projects. Of course, their viewing reaches a certain peak, but it declines very slowly, and in general, these projects are successful for some number of years. We have not yet managed to find the hooks to reorganize successful franchises so that they live for a very, very long time, and for that reason, we had to close two of our long-lived projects during the year – True Mystery (Реальна містика) and Agents of Justice (Агентисправедливості)," notes Victoriia Korogod. This season the channel offered its audience the detective project Prosecutor's Move (Хід прокурора) with the former Prosecutor General of Ukraine as the host.
Three of the top managers we interviewed point to the growing interest of the audience in information products (and not only on the TOP-5 TV channels).
This trend is most evident on STB. "Given how fast the world is changing, pandemics and other events, news has become part of everyone's life, even those who may not have been as actively interested in it before. Last year, during the quarantine period, we launched an additional daytime newscast. We are very pleased with the result, and this year we are planning to add another one – a morning newscast. Vikna (Вікна) has started to get consistently high shares, regardless of the content that comes before and after. This shows that our news is a strong independent product, and now we are systematically starting to bet on it," comments Liudmila Semchuk.

Ukrainian Films
Four out of the five top TV channels are still interested in new Ukrainian movies. Two of them – Kateryna Hornostay's drama Stop-Zemlia (Стоп-Земля) and Oleksandr Berezan's dramedy Taste of Freedom (Смак свободи), will be broadcast on Novy Channel. "It is too early to talk about investing in cinema," states Olha Zadorozhna, "There has to be a growing advertising market for that." Therefore, the broadcaster limits itself for the time being to media support of the films in question. Two other channels – 1+1 and ICTV – are looking towards partner participation in the production of films. But so far only the Ukraine channel has made concrete steps in this direction. The comedy Into Nature (На природу) will be the first case of a film co-produced with FILM.UA. "It is a unique new experience for us. Previously the Ukraine channel has been a media partner only for feature films, and now we are full-fledged co-producers," says Viktoriia Korohod. "Having fantastic expertise in the production of series, we, of course, wanted to enter the territory of cinema. Our little brother, the channel NLO TV, being an innovator due to its young audience, has entered this territory back in 2017, and already in 2018, the first example of such cooperation was released – the film Infoholic (Інфоголік). By the way, our colleagues are also planning two releases this autumn – Amber Cops (Бурштинові копи) and Ukrainian-Style Robbery (Пограбування по-українськи). Therefore, seeing the viewer's demand for rental films, even despite the quarantine, and learning from our colleagues as well, we have realized that the time had come for the Ukraine channel as well. Our partnership is both financial participation and a creative component in different aspects. FILM.UA has chosen a good cast, and we have organically added cameos by top football players."

TV premiere of the Stop-Zemlia (Стоп-Земля) drama will take place on Novy Channel

Digital
Over a year, the strategies of the top five TV channels in digital have not changed fundamentally (not considering the production of multi-platform series). Broadcasters develop their own YouTube channels and other platforms, and those that are part of media groups with their own OTT platforms strengthen the presence of their content there.

For example, 1+1 is developing the second season of the series of teen-dramedy Sex/Insta/ZNO (Секс, Інста і ЗНО) for its own VOD platform. And there are two more similar projects in development, also exclusively for digital. Novy Channel is preparing a second web series and continues to develop YouTube projects that contribute to the transition of the audience from linear TV to digital and back. In the fall season, the show Hell's Kitchen (Пекельна кухня) is paired with Predmetka (Предметка) and Exes 3 (Екси-3) is paired with Crash Test (Краш-тест). Besides, the channel has launched a YouTube cooking show Roasted (Прожарено) with Hell's chef Alex Yakutov and is already planning digital premieres for spring 2022: "There is an idea for the digital post-show Couple for a Million (Пара на мільйон)," announces Olha Zadorozhna. "We also want to work with the material that wasn't included in the show Revizors at the Porch (Ревізори на порозі). This way viewers will get answers to the questions that arise while watching the show. And if we agree, these projects will be released on OTT platforms instead of YouTube."
Despite the offensive of digital on all fronts, top managers of TV channels note another interesting trend: television remains in demand not only as a content producer but also as a method of delivery. "The number of sources from which a viewer can consume information is increasing, which gives them a wide choice," Maksym Kryvytskyi analyzes. "But having this choice hinders the viewer if they don't know what content they want to watch. And it is for the choice that they return to us. Linear television does this job for the viewer."

This conclusion is also supported sociologically. "At the end of 2020, we have conducted a big demographic study of content consumption: what people watch on our channel, what they watch on our competitors' channels, and why," says Anastasiia Shteinhauz. "And we were also curious about how people watch Other TV and platforms.

Crazy Neighbours (Скажені сусіди) – one of the first cases in Ukraine of launching series by a TV channel together with a streaming platform (1+1 and Kyivstar TV)
We were amazed that people who have access to MEGOGO, Sweet.tv, or any other Ukrainian platform use these platforms to watch air television! It's just that at first, they watched TV over an antenna, then over a satellite dish, and now they have this new technological access. Plenty of psychological studies confirm that the scariest thing for a person to do is to make a choice. And in the case of content, the desire that someone would choose for you is not going anywhere. All over the world, streamers – Netflix and the other big guys – are starting to add TV channels. Of course, not air television (which is impossible because they operate in all territories), but such programming lineups so that a person just turns on the TV and doesn't have to stress about what content to watch. This gives hope: on the one hand, Other TV is growing, and this is a fact, but on the other hand, even new technology allows the television to still exist, and exist quite well."
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Investment in Ukraine's Film Production
Analysis of the quantitative and qualitative indicators of the winning films of the Ukrainian State Film Agency pitching competitions
4
Investment in Ukraine's Film Production
Analysis of the quantitative and qualitative indicators of the winning films of the Ukrainian State Film Agency pitching competitions
Despite the leap forward made by the Ukrainian cinema sector in recent years, the state remains the main investor in the national film industry. So which projects does Ukraine allocate funding for via the Ukrainian State Film Agency, and what benefits does it gain from these investments, both economically and in terms of image? Analyzing statistics on two hundred films of various genres and trends
In 2020, cinemas in Ukraine were closed from March 25 to July 2 and three weekends in November (excluding several regions); in 2021, from January 8 to January 24 and from March 20 to April 9 in Kyiv; at other times, until June 16, 2021, cinemas had a 50% occupancy policy.
Before proceeding with the analysis, it is necessary to outline a few introductory points about the structure of the system of state support for the film industry in Ukraine. First, the state makes investments in film production through the Ministry of Culture and Information Policy, which during the period in question allocated funds both directly (through competitions of patriotic content) and through its subordinate institutions: the Ukrainian State Film Agency and the Ukrainian Cultural Fund (until 2020). The key role in this process belongs to the Ukrainian State Film Agency. For instance, out of the UAH 440,678,200 that were allocated by the government for the budget program "State Support of Cinematography" last year, the budget line "Support and distribution of nationally produced films" (mainly production and release; film festivals, events, and promotional activities are handled separately) came to UAH 387,470,500, which is about 88%.

Secondly, in the case of state support of the film industry in Ukraine, the term "investment" cannot be used in its commonly accepted meaning, as the result of the investment in most cases does not include profit but rather the development of the industry: increasing the number of practicing filmmakers and the quality of their work, strengthening viewer trust in the national cinema, and increasing interest in Ukraine as a film power abroad. In other words, these are the results without quantifiable indicators. However, there is an indisputable quantitative indicator, thanks to which the definition of "investment" cannot be abandoned altogether, which is the increase in the total number of Ukrainian premieres. Whereas in 2016, 15 new films, which were produced with the support of the Ukrainian State Film Agency, reached audiences in one way or another, in 2017 there were already 29 such films, in 2018 – 37, in 2019 – 44, in 2020 – 35, despite the lockdown and quarantines, and in the first half of 2021 – 24. In 2014, the share of Ukrainian films at the national box office was 1% of the total, and in 2019, it was already 8%, and, judging by the dynamics, it would have continued to increase, if not for the COVID pandemic.

The lion's share of the funds invested by the state in the production of film projects continued to be distributed through competitions held by the Ukrainian State Film Agency. In 2020, it became apparent to the industry that the system of funding distribution required a reset. And already in 2021, all competitions, beginning with the Fifteenth Competition, were held under the new rules (there were restrictions on the maximum amount of support for different categories of projects, the submission of no more than two applications from one company was permitted, money was allocated only after the project had undergone an obligatory financial audit, and so on). Starting from 2021, the new Council for State Support of Cinematography, whose members were replaced after the end of the previous ones' tenure, is responsible for approving their results.
However, the fact that competitions are being conducted under the new rules does not mean that the previous experience in film financing should be discarded (after all, state funding means taxpayers' money, which means increased responsibility and control that the State Film Agency understands and declares). This analytical study is intended to help conceptualize this experience, using quantitative and qualitative indicators to identify film producers with high efficiency and thereby contribute to the effectiveness of the allocation of state funds for film production.


Methodology of the Investment in Ukraine's film production study

  • The study analyzed feature, non-feature, and animated film projects produced by national film companies and in co-production with Ukraine with 100% or partial financial participation of the state, represented by the Ukrainian State Film Agency (projects produced with the support of the Ministry of Culture of Ukraine and other state authorities are the subject of a separate further study, and therefore, they were not considered here).

  • The sample, based on open data, includes more than two hundred and twenty projects that won the Ukrainian State Film Agency competitions and were released nationally over the last five years (2016-2020) and the first half of 2021, or work on which officially ended in the same period with the submission of projects to the State Film Agency.

  • The vector of analysis is the ratio "budget - state share - output". For films receiving state support in the competition category "For general audience", the output refers to quantitative indicators: box office returns, and the number of tickets sold (the efficiency is calculated as the percentage of box office returns compared to the total production budget). For films d'auteur (and for short films, which are not so easy to distribute in Ukraine), it is a mix of quantitative and qualitative indicators: the frequency of attendance at film festivals and the number of relevant awards, as well as their prestige and international weight.

  • This study only considers the national box office performance, excluding the results of foreign box office, TV channel sales, or platform sales.

The study sample mainly includes films that have received funding since the Seventh Competition (November 2014), though there are some earlier titles in the sample as well.

Competitions for film projects have been held since 2011 when the Ukrainian State Film Agency was created to replace the liquidated State Film Service, and the system of direct government orders was replaced by a system of competitions that distribute state funding after a public presentation of projects according to the assessments of experts.

Though the first five competitions gave us several high-profile projects (e.g., The Tribe by Myroslav Slaboshpytskyi), they can rather be described as training competitions. And for various reasons: from financial (the agency's reporting was not always transparent) to the reputational ones (co-productions with Russia could easily get the money). The Sixth Competition, which started in the autumn of 2013, was canceled after the first stage due to Ukraine’s hryvnia collapse, the crisis, and other events that made the financial indicators of the submitted projects irrelevant (however, many of the films that participated in that competition won the following ones or were either released long ago, like Chervonyi or Bobot or were under development for a longer time, like Babi Yar by Sergei Loznitsa).

Finally, the Seventh Competition, held at the end of 2014 after the change in the leadership of the Ukrainian State Film Agency and the political course in the country, became the starting point for the Agency's system of state funding as we know it today.

Films for the General Audience
Over the period selected for the study, 33 films were released in cinemas that received state funding in the category "For the general audience". However, only five of them can be considered financially successful in the national box office (grossing 100% or more of their budgets), even though they were primarily made for this audience. It should be emphasized that this study only focuses on domestic box office receipts, while some of the films have also been released internationally (in particular, this applies to The Stolen Princess, its international box office receipt totaled over USD 6.5 million). Thus, the foreign box-office figures are not included here.

Top five films for the general audience in terms of effectiveness

Data: Media Business Reports, Media Resources Management (based on open data from the Ukrainian State Film Agency)

The last film on the list is worth paying special attention to. The efficiency rate is here below 100%, but the share of state funding, like the other four films (as well as 15 others from the films analyzed), is less than 50%.

The calculation methodology, in this case, is very simple: the efficiency is calculated as the percentage of box office receipts to the total production budget. For example, a 100% rate means that the film has collected at the Ukrainian box office the same amount that was invested in its production. In other words, the higher the result over the 100% mark, the better.

This percentage cannot fully reflect the success of the film, given the distribution of revenues among cinemas, distributors, and producers, marketing costs, etc. However, in a situation where a film is primarily positioned as being intended for a mass audience and widespread distribution, though the box office is not the only indicator of the film's success, it is the priority one.

In summary: box office figures for four of the 33 films were higher than the production budget, with one film exceeding 500% and another exceeding 270%. Two films are above 90%, but below 100%. Five had figures in the 20-50% range. Three films fall between 10% and 20%. Finally, 19 films, aimed at the box office and mass audience, have figures of less than 10%.

In general, when analyzing all the films included in the study in terms of box office returns, it turns out that Ukrainian State Film Agency spent UAH 1,630,621,542 on the production of 222 film projects (both feature and short films, including for almanacs and compilations), with total box office receipts amounting to UAH 474,250,268 (29,1%). At the same time, 14% of films attracted 08,1% of the audience. Those 14% of films cumulatively received only 15,4% of the amount invested by the state.

Films d'auteur
While it is relatively simple to calculate the efficiency of state funding of films for the general audience, it is more complicated to do with the films d'auteur, for its creators do not expect big box office returns, and so the box office returns, in this case, are far from being a key indicator. However, some efficiency criteria can be applied to the films d'auteur: as a rule, auteurs' projects become cultural events of all-Ukrainian or even international scale, they build buzz at international film festivals and win awards.

Of course, there are different film festivals, and not all the awards are equal, but there are enough status benchmarks in this area. The main one among them is that the festival should be accredited by the International Federation of Film Producers Associations (FIAPF). Altogether there are more than five dozen film festivals with such accreditation, and among the most prestigious — the so-called Class A festivals —are those in which there is a competitive program and no specialization. There are predictably fewer of these international events. There is a total of 15 of them for feature films (in Cannes, Berlin, Venice, Karlovy Vary, Locarno, Moscow, Shanghai, Montreal, San Sebastian, Warsaw, Tokyo, Mar del Plata, Tallinn, Cairo, and the International Film Festival of India in Goa) and five for short films and documentaries (Tampere, Oberhausen, Krakow, Saint Petersburg, Bilbao). Given the high international status of these festivals, we considered not only awards received by Ukrainian films but also their participation in competition programs. The latter, from the point of view of our research, is also a victory because in this way Ukraine gets quality promotion in the international market, which in a global sense means efficient use of state funds.

The special status of the prestigious film festivals, however, does not mean that we have decided not to consider the awards of lesser-known film festivals. On the contrary: they are given a separate line in the stud, but in this case, only the awards are included there, nominations and out-of-competition screenings do not count.

In addition, for many Ukrainian films, various extra-festival awards are also important, such as the awards of the European and Ukrainian Film Academies, so they were also considered and put in a separate column.

As for ranking, everything is simple: the awards and participation in ‘A’ list film festivals are the most important criteria in terms of efficiency, followed by the awards from other festivals, including specialized screenings, and then come extra-festival prizes, awards, and other distinctions.

Once again: we do not downplay the importance of the fact that a film received an award, for every award is of importance, but we consider their overall "specific weight", the prestige, which affects the place of the picture in the rating, demonstrating the efficiency of spending state funds. To make it clearer, let us look at the example of two films: the documentary Babi Yar. Context by Sergei Loznitsa and the feature thriller Stranger by Dmytro Tomashpolsky.

It should be mentioned right away that Stranger is ranked 26th in the list of those analyzed, while Babi Yar. Context is not included in the study, as its production was funded by a private project of the Babyn Yar Holocaust Memorial Centre. At the same time, the archive materials, which were used while making of the latter, were collected by the director in preparation for the shooting of another project – a feature film Babi Yar, which again was funded by the Ukrainian State Film Agency, so it is impossible not to mention the documentary at all. Analyzing the awards of both projects in quantitative terms, the picture Babi Yar. Context has received only one award – "The Golden Eye" (L'Œil d'or) at the Cannes Film Festival, while Stranger was awarded in seven genre screenings. However, in this case, it is not the quantitative but the qualitative component (the prestige of the festival) that is of greater priority for analysis.

Therefore, if Babi Yar. The context had been placed in our rating, it would have ranked higher, despite the smaller number of prizes. Of course, the film by Dmytro Tomashpolsky has become a highlight among films of its genre, but it had little impact on the international status of Ukraine as a film power, unlike Sergei Loznitsa's film.

Top 15 films d'auteur in terms of efficiency

Data: Media Business Reports, Media Resources Management (based on open data from the Ukrainian State Film Agency)

It should be noted that the mechanism of state control over-allocated funds does not stipulate that theatrical or any other premieres must be held. The main thing is that the completed film must be submitted to the Ukrainian State Film Agency and the state film archive (National Oleksandr Dovzhenko Center), following all the procedures. Therefore, it comes as no surprise that around 15% of films in the table above (note that only projects completed and submitted to the Ukrainian State Film Agency have been analyzed) have never been given a premiere date. However, that does not mean that such projects have the same status. Due to the quarantine and the uncertain situation with film distributors, some producers have deliberately put off the premières of their films, others are in negotiations with festivals right now, but are not yet able to give an exact date (some agreements have also been canceled due to the pandemic). Several other films are in the re-editing stage, which will allow them to perform better at the box office. And some producers simply ignored the fact that the logical outcome of the film should be the contact with the audience and not just the submission of the film to the State Film Agency.

In the future, Media Resources Management and the information and analytical publication Media Business Reports are planning to continue their research of state investments, by analyzing the films financed by the state which were not included in the sample of this study, as well as by expanding the parameters of analysis.
5
Ukrainian VoD Market
Dynamics, trends, readiness for production of originals
5
Ukrainian VoD Market
Dynamics, trends, readiness for production of originals
The streaming services segment in Ukraine is a highly competitive environment, with more than a dozen OTT platforms competing for subscribers. For this research, we have focused on five major Ukrainian players that set the market dynamics and trends
Despite years of talking about total digitalization, until relatively recently OTT platforms were considered as a kind of a little brother in the Ukrainian media market: seemingly promising, but not mature enough to participate in adult affairs. The nation-state had a similar opinion. Till now, this segment is not legally regulated, and having an OTT provider license is not mandatory (that is why, for now only one platform, OLL.TV, has it). But in the last couple of years, the rules have been actively changing. More and more viewers are choosing OTT for its affordability and usability, and the relevance for video on demand in the era of the pandemic cannot be overstated. And whoever can give the audience the most diverse product becomes a player to be reckoned with. "At the end of the last year, the Pay TV segment has outperformed the advertising market. Overall, this segment has grown fourfold, with OTT platforms being the main growth driver. They, in turn, have doubled the number of subscribers and finally reached a scale, where they are changing the market, in particular, the distribution system," summarised OLL.TV CEO Yuliia Trybushna during one of the KYIV MEDIA WEEK panels.
However, like every young and actively developing market, the OTT segment remains an enigma by many parameters. For that reason, this analytical review is intended to help other segments in the media market learn a little more about this segment.
With no market-wide measurements available (such as Nielsen data for television) and OTT platforms carefully concealing their quantitative figures, it is impossible to form a clear picture of the market volume and size of individual players, but our study reflects the dynamics, trends, cause-effect relationships, and other parameters, which help to get a glimpse of the overall picture. Special attention has been given to the readiness of the platforms to produce original content and the conditions required for this.
Interviewees of the study:
Ivan Shestakov
Chief Innovation Officer at MEGOGO
Fedir Hrechaninov
Director of Strategy and Business Development at Media Group Ukraine
Yuliia Trybushna
CEO of OLL.TV
Anastasiia Ryzhenko
Head of Media Content at Volia
Oleksandr Rezunov
CEO of Sweet.tv
Pavlo Rybak
Head of Kyivstar TV
Iryna Nykonchuk
Showrunner at 1+1 Production

Market

AVoD (Advertising Video on Demand) – access to videos is free of charge, but implies the presence of advertising
SVoD (Subscription Video on Demand) – access to videos is granted after a periodic subscription is created and paid for
TVoD (Transactional Video on Demand) – access to videos is granted after a one-time payment and is limited to a certain time frame (e.g., a movie can be watched within 48 hours from the start of viewing)
NVoD (Near Video On Demand) – so-called own TV channels, broadcasting of VoD content grouped according to a certain feature and arranged according to a schedule resembling the TV channel's lineup
FVoD (Free Video on Demand) – videos are accessible free of charge and without advertising
EST (Electronic Sell-Through) – access to videos is also granted after a one-time payment, but is not limited by time or number of views
ARPU (Average revenue per user)

General information


Among those respondents who have agreed to talk about figures, there is a consensus that in Ukraine at the beginning of 2021 the number of paying subscribers of OTT-platforms was about 1.2 million with around 5 million Pay-TV subscribers (the latter figure is congruent to the data of the independent rating agency Big Data UA, which specifies that the penetration rate of Pay TV is about 39% of households in the country).

To estimate the growth rate of the market, experts were offered research data from PwC Media Outlook, which forecasts the growth of the global VoD segment by 13.4% per year (until 2025), and most respondents did not agree with this information. "MEGOGO is growing much faster," said Ivan Shestakov. "And since we objectively consider ourselves to be the largest platform, I think the growth rate in Ukraine is significantly higher than that in the world." To specify how much higher, they can rely on Pavlo Rybak's data: in 2020, the OTT market has almost doubled.

It is worth noting that the Ukrainian market of streaming services is a highly competitive environment, with more than 10 OTT platforms competing for the specified number of subscribers. Moreover, international players that have entered the country (Netflix and Amazon Prime Video since 2016, AppleTV Plus since 2019), as well as available Russian platforms (except for Kinopoisk HD and Wink, which fall under the decree of the President of Ukraine banning Russian social networks and services in the country) also battle for the attention of Ukrainian viewers.

As part of the study, we focused on the largest OTT services of Ukraine: MEGOGO, OLL.TV, Kyivstar TV, Volia TV, and Sweet.tv (the others either provide exclusively TV services or operate on an advertising model only, or, like 1+1 video by 1+1 media, represent "the branded niches" of the media group’s content). At the same time, it is not possible to specify exactly how big these services are, for the information on the number of platform subscribers is not made public, and the data published by Big Data UA was not confirmed during the preparation of this review.

The reasons for such secrecy are explained by high competition: "Knowing our number of subscribers and ARPU, competitors will be able to calculate everything they need," says Oleksandr Rezunov. However, he assures (as well as other respondents) that all necessary reports on subscribers are being provided to the respective copyright holders. Three of the five platforms claimed that they were growing significantly faster than the market.

For that reason, it was not possible to calculate the market average ARPU (during the interview, only two of the five OTT platforms named their ARPU), but considering the cost of packages and announced trends in their purchase, it can be concluded that the figure is more than two times higher than that announced by Big Data UA in 2020 (66,67 UAH or 2,02 EUR). The average receipt amount and the construction of the sales funnel are also classified as non-public information. In addition, it was impossible to compare the volume of VoD content accumulated with the platforms, because everyone does their counting differently: some count in hours, some in titles. And by a title, some mean the whole project, while others refer to a title as just one episode of a series, and they then add all episodes up and get a bigger number.
Impact of COVID-19

"The pandemic has hit everyone on the planet without exception, as well as the global economy because everything in the world is interconnected," admits Ivan Shestakov. "Even if there are momentary victories, they are overshadowed by the overall depressing situation. We understood that and therefore took many measures in order not to lose our position and growth rates. If we had not shifted our focus to other types of content, if we had not started to develop other product areas, then 2021 might well have been the beginning of stagnation for us. MEGOGO managed to hold its position in the market, which became possible only because of the incredible efforts of our entire team".

According to other platforms, the situation has not changed globally. During the lockdown, everyone felt the growth of load and noted an increase in views, but not in the subscriber base (existing users just started to watch much more than they used to). In summer, the situation leveled off, and the inflow of new subscribers began in September (just like for television, with the beginning of autumn there is a high season for platforms as well). At the same time, the economic crisis has not affected the users' behavior:
Most users do not consider OTT as something additional. For them it's the same as television, and the payment for television in Ukraine is traditionally treated as a utility bill. That is why we did not feel any slowdown in 2020. The OTT market continued to grow and develop.
— Yuliia Trybushna
The impact of the pandemic on the situation with content is not unambiguous either: "Of course, there have been fewer film premieres in the last two years," says Shestakov. "But the windows of availability of new releases on streaming platforms have also shrunk. Now they can even see the overlap: the last weeks of the theatrical release of a movie coincide with the first days of its release on MEGOGO. People are watching these new releases better than before for sure."
Impact of dumping

Most respondents reacted extremely emotionally to this word, and not just because dumping in the media plays into the hands of pirates. "All over the civilized world, Pay TV is the biggest investor in content. The strongest series, films, etc. are produced for Pay TV," explains Fedir Hrechaninov. "In Ukraine, however, the Pay TV segment was not an investor at all, because it was lying on its side and could barely breathe due to the providers' endless dumping. And given that the advertising market is negligibly small and cannot recoup the production of the amount of content that has been coming out in recent years, someone has to subsidize it. In 2014, Ukraine found itself in a situation where this was already a matter of national security: the country had to produce content that could compete with Western, Russian, etc. The money comes from either the advertising market (but it is not enough apparently, we all understand the volumes), or from the paid market (which was barely breathing because of dumping), or someone subsidizes it. And it does not matter who it is: the owners of TV channels, the national state, or some special funds. As soon as we say that our model is built on subsidies, it becomes clear that we are talking about an unstable and very dangerous model for the country. Thus if the advertising market cannot be developed (more than it is developed today), and we want to get away from subsidies, the only source for the healthy development of the industry is the Pay TV segment. Therefore, we perceive dumping that destroys the Pay TV segment of the market as evil for both the industry and the country."

It is impossible to force all players to follow the rules, but the majority does stick to a consolidated position. "The market has agreed that there is a minimum tariff of 99 UAH. However, Kyivstar and we do not like such marketing moves, so our price is 100 UAH," smiles Pavlo Rybak. "In addition, the market has agreed that a user can get 7 days free of charge or 14 days for 1 UAH. And after that, the cost of the package is not less than 99 UAH. This helps everyone by keeping subscribers from running back and forth".

According to one of the speakers, it is agreed on the market that the minimum charge is 99 UAH as well as that the free trial for customers is 7 days or 14 days for 1 UAH. On the expiry of the trials, the package rate is no less than 99 UAH.
State support

Most OTT players are skeptical about the idea of creating a single state-owned VoD platform, which was recently voiced by the Ukrainian authorities. But then again, state support of existing services is still considered necessary for their functioning.

On the one hand, it may take the form of limiting competition from international and Russian platforms at the state level. "According to my estimates, in Ukraine, there are up to one million users of non-Ukrainian platforms," says Pavlo Rybak. "So, if these services are banned, subscribers will be redistributed, and the situation in OTT will already be much better. This is not a popular opinion, but I think it is necessary to talk about it so that something would change for the better in our country." On the other hand, state support may take the form of direct financing of content production: "In Russia, the grant state support for content production — meaning the part of the state support that doesn't have to be returned — will amount to about 500 million USD," analyzes Fedir Hrechaninov. "This year alone. Only grant support. The figure does not include government spending on Channel One Russia, VGTRK, Russia Today, etc. And this is all taking into account that the Russian advertising market is many times larger than the Ukrainian one. The paid market is also many times bigger. At the same time, we are in a state of hybrid war. If one gathers all the money in the Russian media industry, it becomes clear how much the one we are fighting with spends on the information component of the warfare. Then we look at the entire Ukrainian market... Does the industry need government support to stand up to it? In my understanding, it certainly does, because today we cannot speak only about business. It does not work like that".
Piracy

The market also needs state support to fight against pirate resources, which absolutely all OTT platforms consider their main competitor.
Despite each player's struggles, piracy, according to MEGOGO's most optimistic estimates, remains at least 80%.
"At a bare minimum, the industry could have earned five times as much and paid taxes accordingly," states Ivan Shestakov. "There were attempts to unite, to work out some tools, but the support from the state has been moral rather than substantive. This way, a systemic struggle is impossible." Fedir Hrechaninov also says that the task can only be solved through integrated work with law enforcement bodies. "In the face of hybrid warfare, piracy isn't considered a priority for them in terms of cybersecurity, but only one of the many segments. However, there are steps that the state could take to fight piracy more actively (both in terms of legislation and possible decisions of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine), and we hope that these steps will be taken in the near future."

Foreign copyright holders do not join the fight against Ukrainian pirates. "Because they do not see large ARPU on the market," explains Anastasiia Ryzhenko. "Only local legislation may solve the problem, when there will be at least some kind of punishment for any theft of content, even for just watching it. Then the state will create normal conditions for both us and the copyright holders to protect their rights". Theoretically, the punishment for watching should encourage people to be more careful in choosing a platform. "A year ago we did a study. We asked users to list legal cinemas they watch. Approximately 60% of the resources on the list were pirate websites. Frankly speaking, we didn't expect such a result," admits Ryzhenko.

Characteristics of Ukrainian OTT Platforms

Development paths and types of VoD


Each of the streaming services included in the study reached its current position on the market along its path. MEGOGO, which launched in 2011 as an online cinema operating on the AVoD model, was the first to appear on the market. In 2013, MEGOGO added the TVOD model, in 2014 the SVoD one, in 2015 the TV service, and in 2018, the company changed its development strategy and began to experiment with different media content niches: sports, live broadcasts, audiobooks, cybersports, podcasts, etc. MEGOGO is positioned as Eastern Europe's largest OTT service, operating in many countries (mostly in the countries of the former Commonwealth of Independent States) and having its offices in Russia, Belarus, Latvia, Kazakhstan, Moldova, and Azerbaijan.

OLL.TV was launched for the UEFA Euro 2012 as a broadcaster of football events – from the Ukrainian Premier League to international championships – and remained so until last year when the company announced a change in its development strategy. Having left the football niche, the service, without giving up the sports channels entirely, became a "provider of common interest" by redirecting its focus to the artistic content.

The Kyivstar TV service originated from the Home TV service provided by the mobile operator Kyivstar. The Home TV service was launched in 2015. In 2019, in partnership with 1+1 media, the service relaunched as an OTT platform for Kyivstar subscribers, and since spring 2021, it became available to any user.

The Volia TV service in its current form was launched in spring 2020, although it began to develop (as an OTT digital TV broadcaster that was available only to subscribers of the Volia telecommunications provider) back in 2013. Last year, the platform became available on all screens and to any user.

The Sweet.tv platform started in 2017 as a TV service with only basic TV channels on its grid, but gradually it expanded its offer, and in 2019, the platform added the VoD service.
When it comes to VoD models, subscription and purchase are the main categories for the platforms surveyed.
At the same time, most seek to transfer the maximum amount of VoD content to SVoD: "We would be happy to limit everything to a subscription, but some of the rights, unfortunately, are sold on TVoD terms. So, content is purchased on a pay-per-view basis," states Fedir Hrechaninov. "Purchasing is, of course, not very popular with users. Our income from purchase and subscription is not comparable as well, it's not even part of the business model." Managers of other platforms say that users that have subscriptions get irritated when they have to pay extra for the content (mostly for new movie releases). But at Volia TV, the purchase is positioned as a ticket to the cinema, and this, according to Anastasiia Ryzhenko, does not cause discontent among users. "Most films can be purchased permanently (EST), but it will cost a little more than renting," specifies Ivan Shestakov. "Content in different monetization models does not overlap. That is, you cannot buy one item of content that is included in the subscription. And vice versa: subscribers will also have to pay for new movies that are available only for a fee. However, subscribers usually have preferences in the form of good discounts on paid content."

Only MEGOGO has the AVOD model which is not commercially reasonable for the other three platforms, but this model is being considered for launch by Kyivstar TV soon. FVoD content is present at all channels except Sweet.tv, performing either the function of attracting subscribers to the platform (for example, Volia TV together with copyrights holders chose 30 best Ukrainian films and made them available for free for 30 days), or the function of access to information (OLL.TV and Kyivstar TV have information TV channels open), or the function of testing.
We use free content to test hypotheses, as well as at the stage of market formation for new products. This is the case, for example, with MEGOGO audio series, which are still quite a new format for Ukraine. Moreover, we apply the FVoD model to social and charitable projects, which we like to do and which, by their nature, cannot be paid for.
— Ivan Shestakov
In addition, most platforms use the NVoD model. These are virtual TV channels or, roughly speaking, playlists created for the user from VoD content. "Creating such virtual channels is a quite costly process because they are formed by people, whose specialization is not that different from TV channel producers," explains Pavlo Rybak. "But we are taking this step because the viewers are much more accustomed to consuming content in this format."

SVoD is the most popular model among users, although there can be some nuances. According to Ivan Shestakov, on MEGOGO the popularity of the model depends on the device: "For example, free content and content with ads are most popular in the browser version of the platform. This is easily explained by the catastrophic amount of piracy in Ukraine. In turn, on SmartTV subscription content is the most popular one, after that comes pay-per-view content, and only then advertising content. The explanation for these statistics is also quite simple: users are willing to pay for convenience and quality".

Competitive advantages and exclusive content

Speaking of the advantages of MEGOGO, Ivan Shestakov emphasizes that the service has the widest possible range of media products which allows covering various niches of user interests: "No other service can offer users so many different forms of entertainment as MEGOGO does in one subscription." And such a strategy, according to Ivan, does pay off: "For example, the permanent audience of the audiobooks and podcasts section is growing constantly. As of today, this section has over 100,000 users, which is a pretty good number for a niche product. In addition, these people also actively watch other content on MEGOGO. We lock the user in a so-called media loop, where all their demands are satisfied: there is no need for them to search for different content on different platforms and pay everywhere, which is several times more expensive than our single subscription. We also try to cross-sell other products to all users. So everything fuels everything."

Kyivstar TV is also trying out other niches (for example, in September 2021, audio tales appeared on the platform), but today the main advantage of the service is its partnership with the mobile operator Kyivstar. On the one hand, it is an attractive price offer (in one "All together" Kyivstar tariff you get mobile communication, mobile Internet, home Internet, TV, and VoD), and on the other hand, it is a technological advantage. "If you watch a TV channel live, you will spend about 0.5 Gb per hour," comments Pavlo Rybak. "Now you can easily figure out what package you need but not every package has unlimited traffic. In our case, having the Internet from Kyivstar allows you to nullify the traffic in the application. This is a big plus because people watch Kyivstar TV on the road, in traffic jams, on buses, out of town, at resorts, at vacation cottages, etc. Especially during the June-July period, when the Ukraine national football team achieved such a success in Euro 2020 no one could have ever anticipated".

Volia also offers a bundle with home Internet, TV service, and VoD, but Volia TV service is qualitatively different in terms of the chosen strategy:
Having a lot of subscriptions on different platforms is, objectively speaking, inconvenient. It's easy to have everything in one place. So we opt for content aggregation, of which we have quite a lot through partnerships. If niches are not covered through partnerships, we cover them directly (for example, via contract with Disney), and as a result, we acquire more than other services can provide.
— Anastasiia Ryzhenko
Sweet.tv relies on technology: high-quality signal with minimum Internet traffic load, good picture even with slow Internet, possibility to establish connection not only between server and user but also between users sending information to each other, etc. "These innovations are the result of a competition among IT specialists for the best ideas for our platform and their implementation," says Oleksandr Rezunov. "We have gathered up to 10,000 IT experts from all over Ukraine and from other countries (e.g. Belarus), selected the best ideas that were suggested, and now we are implementing them on our platform."

OLL.TV also cares about signal quality (especially when it comes to sports broadcasts), but it intends to compete with other platforms primarily by content: "One of the key features of OLL.TV is the best series offer on the Ukrainian market," says Yuliia Trybushna. "Since last summer, the subscription to the Amedia library which contains a series of the best world major studios, such as HBO, Showtime, CBS, is presented in our library exclusively, including the world premieres, which appear in OLL.TV right on the day of their worldwide release. We also offer several football leagues for our users to watch: both Ukrainian (Premier League, First League) and foreign ones. But the main thing is our exclusive content, which we have started to create this year."
As MEGOGO's exclusive content Ivan Shestakov names "football leagues [UEFA Champions League, UEFA Europa League, and UEFA Conference League for the seasons 2021-2024 – ed.], a lot of boxing, cybersports, and separate packages with VOD-content". Sweet.tv states that it has hundreds of exclusive films, purchases of Internet rights for Ukrainian series (for instance, Early Swallows. Addicts (Перші ластівки. Zалежні)), and Ukrainian dubbing of Hollywood films, which were released before 2006 and therefore did not have Ukrainian dubbing when they premiered in movie theaters. Some content of the TV channel 1+1 is broadcast on Kyivstar TV exclusively: "For instance, the shows Dancing with the Stars (Танці з зірками) and The Voice of Ukraine (Голос країни) are not being uploaded to YouTube at once. Full recorded episodes of these shows are available only on our channel", says Pavlo Rybak. "And these are the most popular TV shows in the country. In spring, the movie Crazy Wedding 3 (Скажене весілля - 3) was released exclusively on our channel. Early next year, an exclusive series Crazy Neighbours (Скажені сусіди) will premiere on Kyivstar TV, and a few more series are now in production."

The comedy Crazy Wedding 3 (Скажене весілля – 3), which was released in theatres at the end of February 2021 and was very successful at the box office, premiered exclusively on the OTT platform Kyivstar TV this spring
Considering the aggregation strategy, the race for exclusivity is not relevant for Volia TV: "Our movie theater has 20,000 hours of content, which is a lot, but we don't play the game of exclusivity. We are an aggregator, and we receive content from direct deals with film studios, TV channels, and various copyrights holders from all over the world. We also receive content from other cinemas, which is a big deal," explains Anastasiia Ryzhenko. "Exclusive content that everyone wants to watch is very, very expensive. It doesn't matter whether it is a football game, a TV series that has just premiered, or a production of originals. It's a very big investment. At the moment, given the level of piracy, there's a rather little chance of recouping that investment." However, in the case of football, Anastasiia is cautious: "How is it different from other content? The copyright holders are working hard on protecting football from piracy. It is very difficult to find a pirated copy of a football match of high quality, not to mention a live broadcast. For that reason, football is worth investing in, because it can definitely be monetized".
Relations with Ukrainian copyrights holders

"Relations with media groups are very similar to those with other copyrights holders," says Ivan Shestakov. "All of them require detailed reporting, and with all of them, the terms are tailored individually. There are similar provisions, but no two contracts are alike. The agreements we reach are always somewhere in the middle: each copyright holder has every right to manage their content as they see fit, while we, in turn, accept only those terms that we consider reasonable from a business standpoint."
When working with other Ukrainian copyright holders, there are no fixed royalties, like in the case of TV channels, and there is no unified model either: "For instance, in the case of a film that is offered as TVoD, we pay a substantial minimum guarantee and everything above that we share with the copyrights holder. Sometimes we pay a certain amount once," says Yuliia Trybushna and adds that for OLL.TV, it is more preferable to get the film immediately as a subscription, and then not to share anything.

The Sweet.tv platform and the FILM.UA film studio have tried out the new model this year with the film Pulse (Пульс). This was the first time the Ukrainian feature film premiered both on the platform and in cinemas. "In this case, it was an experiment from the copyright holder," explains Oleksandr Rezunov. "We had bought the film much earlier, even before the pandemic, but it was up to them to decide when our rights would be opened. From July 22 to August 29, we sold the film on a pay-per-view basis, and after that, we moved it to a subscription."

The movie Pulse (Пульс) (2021): for the first time, a Ukrainian feature film premiered simultaneously in cinemas and on Sweet.tv
Relations with international copyright holders

There are no uniform rules here either, as no content is the same. In the case of movies, it is usually either purchase of rights or profit-sharing. Premium TV channels put a condition in the contract with the platforms that the value of the package they are included in shall not be below a certain threshold. How the platform protects content from piracy is important to many. Oftentimes, when entering into a contract with a particular copyright holder for the first time, platforms face the need to prove their reliability and explain the growth prospects of the Ukrainian market as a whole.
There are three main things: the number of population, the average check, and the level of piracy. Every country, with which copyright holders do business, is viewed through this prism.
— Anastasiia Ryzhenko
Discounts for Ukraine are a different story, platforms have to squeeze them out, given the low purchasing power of the population. "This is a part of the negotiation process," notes Fedir Hrechaninov. "We explain that our GRP is different, that we differ from Russia in one way, from Poland in another. But after all, there is no formula into which we could put our realities, and the copyright holder would tell us: "Yes, indeed, the price should be lower." If the copyright holders can get money from this market, they will squeeze it out. If they can't, they will look for compromises or try to figure out how much they can get".
Impact of competition

In terms of competition, three main areas can be distinguished: competition of the platforms with other types of content delivery, with each other, and with pirates.

We put the latter in a separate block of the review above, while the other two are partly related:
Today, the OTT segment accounts for 20-25% of the Pay TV market, and 80% of the other types of reception. I believe that first, we should fight for this 80%, and then we should look at each other as competitors and divide the audience.
— Pavlo Rybak
At the same time, there is a competition for the most popular content, in which one step today can affect the balance of power tomorrow. Just remember the football case of MEGOGO. The platform had been negotiating for 4 years with Media Group Ukraine for Football 1/2 TV channels, but eventually, they had to negotiate with Volia for Volia Football+ channel, while Media Group Ukraine gave Football 1/2 TV channels to Sweet.tv. Last year MEGOGO for the first time won the tender for broadcasting European football cups until 2024, which in previous years was the prerogative of Media Group Ukraine. "Buying football rights was more of a forced measure for us," Ivan Shestakov explains. "It is not a fact that we would have done it if we had been able to negotiate."

In the same year, the OLL.TV platform acquired exclusive rights for Amediateka, which was previously available on all Ukrainian platforms with VoD. "When we had bought over our competitors' heads their key content, it was logical to expect a response from them," Shestakov continues. "And so it happened: they revoked the rights to the catalog, which they had previously bought as an exclusive. There was no visible outflow of subscribers from MEGOGO. We managed to quickly replenish the library with similar and alternative content." Media Group Ukraine, on the other hand, stresses that exclusive rights to football are always a question of price, while in the case of other content it is possible to compete with other parameters: "With football content, everything is very simple. There is a tender, and whoever gives the most money, has exclusive rights. But there are other contractors with whom it is more interesting to do business: they take into account not only the price factor but also, for example, the buyer's plans for development and promotion. After all, they know how we pay, because one can negotiate anything. And the question is how the agreement will be fulfilled if things suddenly don't go as planned."

At the same time, not everyone is ready to enter the race for football: "This content is quite specific," says Oleksandr Rezunov. "When the championship starts, subscribers come to watch it. When the championship ends, they do not stay on the platform. Therefore, in the case of football, one needs to consider the cost and the effect one would get from such subscriptions. So far we do not see this effect."
International streamers could be another competitor for Ukrainian OTT platforms but so far they are not. First of all, because they do not have TV channels, which are a mandatory content component for most Ukrainian users.
"Moreover, we cover different big events: football championships, Olympic Games, we do live broadcasts; there is a lot of Western content in Amedia library on OLL.TV, including excellent HBO series, while Netflix, again, does not have this," explains Fedir Hrechaninov. "Netflix is a good second subscription. At least today. On the other hand, is it good that Netflix is present here in Ukraine and is growing? Yes, it is. However, if Netflix also really fought against piracy, it would be much better for the whole market," says Fedir Hrechaninov.

Ukrainian streamers are not afraid of the arrival of other international platforms (analysts of Digital TV Research forecast the beginning of the expansion of Disney Plus, Sky Showtime, and HBO Max in Eastern Europe already in 2022): "The entry of international platforms, I think, will have a favorable effect on the market," suggests Ivan Shestakov. "Big players mean big budgets. This means more high-quality local production and more efforts to combat piracy."

In estimating the number of platforms that will be able to comfortably exist in the market when it passes the stage of formation, all the respondents were unanimous and consolidated: two or three major players and several smaller ones.

Audience and Consumption
The main characteristic of a Ukrainian viewer is the unwillingness to make a choice, and platforms' communication (including visuals) with users is largely built on this, which also explains the audience's love of channels — both linear TV and NVoD.
When this journey first started, subscribers wanted to choose, to look for content. But now the dynamics of life are such that the subscribers don't want to choose, they are tired. They say: 'Please tell me what to watch, and I'll watch it.' And the platforms should prompt. I think that's what the future holds.
— Anastasiia Ryzhenko
According to respondents, the most popular content will generally be that which the platform offers right now. And the most popular package (tariff) is the one promoted by the streamer (and they mainly promote what they consider to be the best price/content ratio).

The platform's audience portrait is formed not by socio-demographic characteristics, but by what users watch. Based on this, the platforms purchase content and build a system of recommendations. And the socio-demographic indicators describing these users complete the picture after the fact. "Traditionally we have more men who are interested in sports, and over the last year, we have more viewers who watch exclusive series," Yuliia Trybushna analyses the audience of OLL.TV. "That is, the differences are due to the exclusives we offer. All things considered, we are competing with OTT competitors and traditional operators for the same audience." Oleksandr Rezunov names viewers aged 25-35 as the backbone of Sweet.tv, while Anastasiia Ryzhenko singles out three key groups of Volia TV's audience. "The first one is young people, students, and older people, who do not have families yet. The second one is families with children of different ages, up to about 18 years old, and the children live with their parents. The third one is families with three generations within who live together (parents, their adult children, and grandchildren). The segment of singles aged 25-35 mostly watches films and shows, and they do it from smartphones and tablets. For families with children – the 30-55 years old audience – it is important to have entertainment channels, children's and family content, as well as the ability to choose. Also, both segments like sports. Families without children prefer educational and news content."

TV consumption

As already noted, TV channels are a must-have for Ukrainian platforms, and they are watched very well. For example, on Sweet.tv, only TV without VoD segment is consumed by around 50% of users. On Kyivstar TV, this figure is about 40%. "Linear TV is definitely not the main tool of attraction to the platform, what makes the user switch to OTT," says Pavlo Rybak. "However, it is the TV channels that people watch the most. This is something the Ukrainian platform cannot exist without nowadays. Any way you slice it, around 80-90% of our audience watch linear television in one way or another. And it goes even further. Even foreign platforms (Netflix or Disney), which started as pure VoD, are now actively looking towards launching linear TV channels. If a platform wants to continue expansion, it can not develop without linear TV channels. In fact, you don't have to go far to find an example: the ivi company, which didn't think about TV channels for a very long time. When we talked to them, they said bluntly: 'It's not our business. But they also came to this. They launched TV in Russia and actively made their way to Ukraine to launch their offer of TV channels here as well."

The number of users who watch only VoD and are not interested in linear TV channels is small for each platform, but only Pavlo Rybak gives the exact number: Kyivstar TV has 8% of those.
Consumption of Ukrainian movies

"Every year, the content produced in Ukraine is becoming more and more high-quality. As the quality grows, so does the audience," says Ivan Shestakov. "As for the Ukrainian dubbing of foreign content, the share of users who choose it increases in proportion to the share of Ukrainian-speaking citizens, which is logical."
As the audience grows, so does the competition for content. This year, the producers of the comedy Crazy Wedding 3 (Скажене весілля - 3) noted that the platforms were seriously haggling for an exclusive OTT premiere of the film.
It turned out that a similar situation had already happened several years ago: "At one time, we have fought the same way for the film The Rising Hawk (Захар Беркут)," recalls Oleksandr Rezunov. "As we were not the only ones who wanted to release it as our exclusive content. It happens from time to time, and the more anticipated a film is, the more likely it is to be haggled over." In addition, the director of Sweet.tv points out that Ukrainian films which were not the most successful at the box office are well-received in subscriptions.

As for Crazy Wedding 3 (Скажене весілля - 3), the film, according to Pavlo Rybak, has broken all the records on Kyivstar TV: "During the first weeks of sales, each subsequent week brought more than the previous one, and the peak was in the third week when the information about the film reached people when everyone got excited about it. By the sixth week, sales dropped a little and stabilized at a certain level. Roughly speaking, they have not fallen since mid-June. From week to week, the numbers are the same, there is literally a couple of sales differences. Admittedly, I had expected sales to fall by August, if not in July. Now I wouldn't be surprised if the film returned to sales growth in September." (all the interviews were conducted in August. – ed.)
The OLL.TV platform says that at least one Ukrainian title is always present in the Top 10. Here, the main hit was the comedy My thoughts are silent (Мої думки тихі): "Could there have been a million [hryvnias in box office]?" recalls Yuliia Trybushna. "Probably it could have been. I don't recall the exact figure now. But it was very well bought". Fedir Hrechaninov predicts good box offices for the future Ukrainian premieres in case of introduction of new lockdowns and cinema closings: "But to do good, a film should be actively promoted. We know how to do it; we have all the necessary resources. So, if we negotiate with producers or distributors about the release of some titles exclusively, then we can, in my opinion, achieve outstanding results." The keyword, in this case, is only: "It's not wise to make promos for the whole market," says Fedir Hrechaninov. "Therefore, I suspect that in the coming years, the exclusive model will be more profitable for the Ukrainian filmmakers than the model where a premiere title is distributed to everyone."

The movie My thoughts are silent (Мої думки тихі) (2019): the biggest hit on OLL.TV among movies produced in Ukraine
Volia TV shares fascinating statistic: "If we look at the segments of what OTT-consumers want, then American content (along with Canada) holds the first place with 84%, in the second place is Ukrainian content with 52%, and in the third place is European content with 50%," states Anastasiia Ryzhenko, specifying that these statistics refer to movies and series.
Subscription drivers

While international VoD platforms grow by entering new territories, Ukrainian services first need to lure subscribers from other technologies. The technical advantages of OTT, such as catch-up, rewinding, the possibility of being late to the air, etc., as well as the ability to run on multiple platforms and get connected wherever there is the internet, help them do this. Paradoxically, the ability to supplement the content of linear TV channels with VoD content (i.e. to create the conditions of having a choice) is also on the list of important advantages of platform consumption.

When it comes to the content that brings users in, Fedir Hrechaninov claims that subscription drivers depend on audience preferences: "In some cases, it's a TV series, in other cases, it's football, there is no one thing. It's a complex work, streams that flow into one subscriber base. Our task in marketing is to manage these streams competently."

Anastasiia Ryzhenko names football live broadcasts as an ideal subscription driver: "Especially when Ukrainian clubs Dynamo Kyiv and Shakhtar Donetsk play. Subscribers come for a specific season and not just one football match. As long as these clubs play, the users will stay with Volia TV. And our task is to tell them as much as possible about the other content we have."

Judging from Sweet.tv's experience, the content that attracts subscribers doesn't have to be exclusive: "A driver can easily be a movie that everyone has," Oleksandr Rezunov is convinced. "But for whatever reason, other platforms did not pay attention to this title. They either did not offer it, or did not push it, or they simply did not consider the interests of a particular user based on their viewing history."
Users' preferences

As mentioned above, users do not want to waste time choosing, so they watch well what the platforms promote, as well as event-driven film selections (e.g. films dedicated to Knowledge Day). Absolutely everyone noted viewers' love for comedies and thrillers, children's content is in high demand as well. In addition, customers of Kyivstar TV also enjoy horror and relaxation content (what is known in Europe as Slow TV), customers of Sweet.tv like Ukrainian dramas, and OLL.TV states that TV channels as a category are slowly losing in favor of movies and series.
Anastasiia Ryzhenko provides a curious statistic: "Comedies are preferred by 80% of the audience, fiction comes second with 49%. The gap of comedies is almost double for all countries of the former Commonwealth of Independent States, and the numbers are completely different in Europe. There is one insight that pretty much struck me. The leader of the top views for the year, and by a wide margin, almost double the entire top of all platform’s positions, is the old animated film Frozen (Крижане серце). It is constantly being re-watched. If we take the Top 10 from month to month, the first thing that stands out strongly is football, when the local teams play (I am talking about UEFA club competitions now). The rest of the viewing is animation films because kids re-watch them several times each. The next most popular content is comedies. But Frozen (Крижане серце) 2013 is still the leader, although studios are constantly releasing new content."

The average number of titles per user per month was calculated by Sweet.tv to be five films, five cartoons, 16 episodes of a series, and 22 episodes of an animated series, indicating that usually, an entire family uses the same account.

The animation movie Frozen (2013): favorite film of the viewers of Volia

Originals

In short, five of the four OTT platforms are going one way or another towards creating original content, but for them, this is not a goal, but one of the tools to compete and increase the subscriber base. At the same time, the players make no secret of the fact that they cannot yet finance the production of a high-quality film or series on their own, so all are looking for cooperation with TV channels, producers, and brands, all are ready for collaborations and partnerships, the models of which have yet to be created.

Originals in Ukrainian realities

Considering that it is still impossible to produce full-fledged originals in the reality of the Ukrainian market, we asked the platforms to formulate what was meant by original content now. "The criteria for the product are formed by the platform," says Yuliia Trybushna. "For its brief, its audience, and the tasks that the content must fulfill (retaining, attracting viewers, increasing a particular audience, for example, the platform needs originals for men 20-30 years old). After some time, the content could be shown on a TV channel or, purely theoretically, on YouTube or other platforms." Pavlo Rybak offers a slightly different interpretation: "I would call it originals light. When a producer comes in with a ready-made idea and says, "I've already done part of the work: tweak it without changing the concept, pay some of the money, and you can have the product for yourself." Let's say, you can exclusively put your logo on the product, but the rights, for example, sales in foreign territories, will remain with the producer. This is the originals we have now: either buying the rights to the finished product, or investing a certain percentage in production, or investing in a promotional campaign."
When it comes to types of content, series are the most profitable for the platforms.
"If a series has at least 8 episodes, they can be released once a week (and this is what everyone has come to, including Netflix), making the user pay you for at least two months because of this series", analyzes the head of Kyivstar TV. "Or for even three months: a person finishes a project in two and a half months, has a paid subscription for a couple more weeks, finds a new series, starts watching it, and so on in a circle. When one thing ends, another begins; I'm not just talking about one exclusive a month. We aim to ground the user, to motivate them to buy a monthly subscription."

Apart from series, Kyivstar TV is thinking about movies (two projects are now in production). Sweet.tv is trying to enter the humor niche (a solo film of Ukrainian stand-up comedian Andrii Shchegel is being filmed). MEGOGO creates originals not only in video format (for example, the platform considers audio series as a promising direction). OLL.TV is looking for series only to build its production of the most demanded content and only then experiment with other content.
What is needed to produce full-fledged originals

The growth of the average check (respectively, the growth of the population's welfare), the formation of the habit of paying for content (respectively, reducing piracy), and of course, an increase in the subscriber base (according to Pavlo Rybak, it should count from one million subscribers to overpower 12 exclusives per year). "All of the above creates the conditions for production to be economically viable. But when the conditions are there, it doesn't mean that everything will happen by itself," stresses Fedir Hrechaninov. "There is a lot of work ahead for platforms and producers to find this content and the language in which to speak to the audience. There will be many experiments, successes, and failures. But I'm sure there will be very intense competition in this segment over the next five years."

So why are platforms working with originals now? Fedir Hrechaninov answers: "Considering how long production takes, we need to be very forward-thinking. For example, we believe that OLL.TV will be able to recoup such content in three years. This means we need to start today because if we start in three years, we have to wait [for projects to appear] for another three years. It's a long game where, generally speaking, it doesn't matter how many subscribers you have today. What matters is how many you will attract and retain with that content three years from now. And not just through one single title, but through a product line."
First cases

The first to enter the territory of originals was the 1+1 video service. At the end of 2020, the teen series Sex/Insta/ZNO (Секс, Інста і ЗНО), created by 1+1 media group exclusively for digital, was released on the platforms (and, accordingly, at the beginning of 2021 on its partner’s platform Kyivstar TV). According to Iryna Nykonchuk, the showrunner of 1+1 Production, one of the project’s aims was to dispel a myth that the content creation for platforms is an unprofitable business. "And we succeeded in it – nowadays we’re working on the second season of the project, moreover we’re not going to stop," said Iryna. "Speaking from the perspective of monetization, it was rather an experiment, anyway in terms of product’s marginality, we exceeded the goal set for 40 percent". Comparing two platforms, the series had more views on 1+1 video, but the figures of Sex/Insta/ZNO (Секс, Інста і ЗНО) were higher than average.

The 1+1 video service was the first to enter the territory of originals at the end of 2020 with the teen series Sex/Insta/ZNO (Секс, Інста і ЗНО), created exclusively for digital
The first series of Kyivstar TV, comedy Crazy Neighbours (Скажені сусіди), is being created according to the model that Pavlo called originals light: the idea and the development belong to the producer (FILM.UA), and the third partner in the configuration is a TV channel (1+1).

MEGOGO partner series are being created according to a similar model (the company did not answer the question about originals). Last year, the action TV series Angels (Ангели) was released, this year the mystery series Trickster (Плут). Moreover, the second season of TV series Angels (Ангели) is in production (all with the 2+2 TV channel). The detective Jack and London (Джек і Лондон), the comedy Great Hope (Велика надія) (with 1+1 TV channel), and the TV series Liuba (Люба) (with Novy Channel) are in production as well. Meanwhile, in the Russian market, MEGOGO produced the original series Hook (Крюк) (renewed for the second season), the feature film Deadly Illusions (Смертельные иллюзии) and announced several other comedy movies.

The first experiment of Sweet.tv, the sitcom Startuppers (Стартапери), was also produced not by the platform itself. The streamer supported the finished project financially to try out its approach to originals. Now, the company is accumulating funds in its fund,
FRUIT (Film and Television Development Fund, to which 10 hryvnias from each connection are allocated), and is carefully studying market offers.
OLL.TV is completing work on the series The Silence (Зломовчання), a co-production with Croatia involving the Croatian TV channel HRT, Croatian production company Drugi Plan, and Ukrainian production company Star Media. The financial investments of the co-producers are roughly proportional to the number of shooting days in each country (38 days in Croatia and 18 in Ukraine). Production risks are borne by the production companies. OLL.TV separately invests in the project promotion in Ukraine. The platform receives all Ukrainian rights, while the international distributor Beta Film gets all foreign rights.

The social drama The Silence (Зломовчання), which is being made in co-production with Croatia, is the debut of OLL.TV in the area of originals
"We are not yet ready to go into an experiment and finance the series production in full on our own," says Yuliia Trybushna about the benefits of co-production. Fedir Hrechaninov explains the decision to start experimenting immediately with an expensive product: "We don't want to produce a series for 50,000-100,000 USD. Such projects with thousands of episodes are being well-produced without us. So, to understand how the content of another level works, we have to experiment with that level straight away. There are several hypotheses, and The Silence (Зломовчання) will allow us to draw conclusions and go to the next experiment, from which we will also learn a lot, and then we will move on to the next one. That's when the hypothesis of what content we want to film will probably be finalized. But the hypothesis about production volume is already clear: we want to reach the level of 10-12 series a year."

However, the opportunity to share costs is not the only reason why OLL.TV chose this particular project as its first originals: "We wanted a story we could start producing quickly, without wasting years in development," says Fedir Hrechaninov. "Besides, there are no teams in the Ukrainian market that have experience in producing such products: they understand what is needed, but they have never done it in practice. And our experiment is not about whether they can produce this project, but about how the product will work on the OLL.TV platform. The Croatian producer of the series The Silence (Зломовчання), Drugi Plan, has already created a product, which was later bought by Netflix, The Paper [original name Novine – ed.]. So we can see what this product is and how it has worked."

KYIV MEDIA WEEK 2021 WHITE PAPER Editorial team
Editors: Anna Davydova, Anastasiia Rakhmanina
Authors: Anastasiia Rakhmanina, Artem Vakalyuk, Anna Bielikovа, Borys Sydorenko
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