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Investment in web series will hit £90m by 2013

The fledgling industry in original content made for the web will grow rapidly over the next few years, according new research. Content Economics estimates that £30 million (US$46.9 million) was spent in Europe and the US on producing web series last year and it forecasts that that total will rise to £90 million by 2013.

While several media companies, notably several of the US majors, have scaled back their digital production offerings, the amount of professionally made content for the Internet is increasing rapidly.

Content Economics says that the US continues to lead the way and the UK is the next most active territory. The BBC, the research house notes, has spent more on made-for-broadband content than any other broadcaster in the US or Europe.

In the UK, however, last year’s economic crisis had an impact in this area. “The collapse in the advertising and sponsorship market during the recession has seen the number of commercial projects dwindle and budgets shrink,” said James Healey, director of research at Content Economics. “It is the deep-pocketed BBC, and also Channel 4, who will drive this market in the UK in the near-term.”

Outside of the UK, Franco-German arts and culture broadcaster Arte is increasingly active in digital production while other public broadcast channels across the continent have yet to get up to speed. In the US, public broadcaster PBS is fairly inactive and the growth will be spearheaded by the large media companies like Sony, Paramount and Warners, according to Content Economics.

Former Disney boss Michael Eisner recently told delegates at the Natpe trade show that his digital production company Vuguru can make shows for as little as US$2,000 per minute. But producers need to be mindful of making content good enough to be exploited on different platforms, Healey said. “One issue with production budgets is at the lower end you might cover your costs, but you’ll struggle to get a DVD release or sell it internationally.”