Nordic TV and media partnership breaks all records

2014 was a record-breaking year for Nordvision on every single parameter. An average of twelve new Nordic programmes or news clips screen in the Nordic countries every single day. Children’s programmes in particular achieved new heights. Efficient, generous cooperation is part of the explanation for this bumper year, says the head of the Nordvision secretariat from Copenhagen.

By Ib Keld Jensen

In its 55 year history the Nordvision partnership has never been more powerfully consolidated, as facts and figures for the four major parameters show.

The volume of co-productions, programme exchanges, archive clips and news has never been greater, both in total and parameter by parameter. Furthermore, cooperation on developing and exchanging formats also set a new record.

A total of 4,442 programme episodes crisscrossed Nordic national boundaries, demolishing the previous record of 3,991 set in 2010. Directly translated this means that more Nordic television is being shown on Nordic public service channels than ever before.

Henrik Hartman, Nordvision’s secretary general says there are several reasons for this extraordinary advance.

”The Nordvision broadcasters are all subject to stagnating funding at a time when they are having to produce content for more and more platforms. Meanwhile dramatic changes are taking place in the media world, where major players like Facebook, YouTube and Google are becoming more and more prominent. This has caused the Nordic brotherhood to close ranks and ask what we can achieve together”, he says.

A smooth-running, unbureaucratic machine

The founding premise of the Nordvision partnership is that the more broadcasters work together, the more content they generate. Their cooperation rests on seven genre groups: children, drama, factual programmes, culture, youth, education and investigative journalism, the programme exchange collaboration  – and the Nordvision secretariat in Copenhagen. It’s a smooth-running machine that is easy to climb aboard.

”People from the different broadcasters don’t regard each other as competitors but as good colleagues with whom they can share programme ideas, strategies and deliberations. In general there is a high degree of trust, and in my experience the partnership is more generous than ever”, Henrik Hartmann says, pointing out that Nordvision cooperation may be on the increase, but the secretariat remains modest, with just three staff to coordinate Nordvision efforts.

Children’s programmes are the biggest hit

The most remarkable advance has been in children’s programmes, which went from a record of 650 co-productions in 2014 to no fewer than 950 in 2014. This corresponds to a Nordic children’s programme a day in three different countries all year round. Henrik Hartmann describes this as a veritable explosion and a fantastic way of utilising license fee revenue.

Intense co-operation on Nordic news

The Nordvision partnership is based on the principle of its members sharing everything they own. In practice this means that DR, NRK, Yle and RUV had just as many news clips from the submarine hunt in the Swedish skerries to choose among as SVT.

The broadcasters can also fish whole programmes or parts of programmes from each other’s archives unless rights issues get in the way. The number of co-productions and programme exchanges is at the highest level ever, and this also goes for the 3200 news inserts the news desks exchanged. The increase in the latter can partly be explained by the implementation of Nordif3, but also by the increase in demand for news clips on the part of the Nordvision broadcasters’ web services.

Format collaboration on the rise

While the traditional forms of Nordvision cooperation were setting new standards on all parameters, the same trend was also apparent in the relatively new field of format collaboration. In connection with Nordvison’s 50th anniversary in 2009, the Nordvision secretariat launched a competition for new format ideas. The competition has been held in a range of genres every year since.

As 2014 draws to a close, format collaboration has resulted in some 40 formats that have come about by pooling creativity and investment in format development.

The most remarkable formats include ‘Jorden rundt på 80 tweets’ (NRK), ‘Labyrint’ (SVT) and ‘Amigo”(DR) and ”Amigo Grande” (NRK). But one format beats them all: NRK’s ‘Teenageboss’, in which teenagers assume responsibility for the family finances for a month. The format has been sold to ten countries, in some instances for several seasons.

Joint platforms – the latest model for cooperation

DR and NRK both have community platforms for new rhythmic music, and the two broadcasters have now got together to develop and operate a joint platform. This partnership aims to develop new functions for the site, such as enabling track sharing, and editorial efforts across national boundaries to give Danish music a more visible profile in Norway and vice versa.

Working together in social media

In 2014 the Nordic television and media enterprises also launched a partnership on the use of social media. The Nordvision partners are working together on professionalising the use of social media and joint standards for metering and analysing social media. The broadcasters are cooperating in order to save money, just as they are in other areas, but also to enable them to compare their activities with other players and to exchange knowledge and data on best practice in the Nordic countries.

”It is going to be fascinating following our joint efforts on the social media in 2015”, Henrik Hartmann says. He continues, “If we had a Nordic prize for the best Nordvision expert group it would surely go to the Nordic social media editors. They put huge efforts into the Nordic partnership in 2014 and the prospects for the next few years are extremely promising”.