Sustainable financing models for Flemish television drama series


Various developments have shifted the financing and production of television fiction (i.e. serials, drama and comedy series):

  • First, new media services have not only complexified the traditional audiovisual value chain, but have also increased the potential for new revenue for TV fiction (e.g. video-on-demand) and new investment in fiction production (e.g. Netflix).
  • Second, media regulators and policymakers alike, have in recent years increasingly developed mechanisms for the support of the audiovisual sector, directly by subsidies and grants in small markets, indirectly through investment in networks, promotion, training and the creation of a ‘level-playing field’ for small actors to develop audiovisual works.
  • Third, a fragmentation of existing revenue streams and financing mechanisms have caused great concern amongst traditional media players and policymakers, fearing a decreased spending in domestic television fiction.

On the one hand, these traditional players – mostly broadcasters – fear that their position of financers and distributor of TV fiction will erode or even become obsolete with the entrance of telecom distributors and OTT players in domestic markets.

On the other hand, traditional players fear that the shifted chronology of windows (with more windows and reduced exclusivity) will eventually result in less revenue and therefore less means for financing TV fiction.

Despite the limited economies of scale, linguistic barriers and limited potential for export, small markets often portray a vivid domestic production. This has been notably the case for the Flemish case, where over the last decades TV fiction production has increased and professionalized, in turn a result of their popularity and large market shares. In recent years, this has led to a growing recognition of the potential to further commercially and culturally exploit Flemish TV fiction in international markets.

This project focuses on the economic and cultural sustainability of television drama series in Flanders. The research question is how can small ecosystems for drama financing and production survive, and how can policymakers directly or indirectly contribute to the sustainability of financing draman in small markets in the long run. Evidence is drawn from a case study approach. Four successful TV fiction series in Flanders are being compared and analyzed. The project therefore builds on a series of expert interviews with stakeholders involved within TV production, financing, aggregation and distribution; analysis of secondary data (revenues and costs) and document analysis (annual reports, press releases, policy statements).


This project runs from 01/01/2014 - 31/05/2014

Staff involved

Financed by

  • Department of Culture, Youth, Sport & Media (CJSM)

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