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NATPE: RTL commits to drama, dismisses Netflix

Hungary’s largest commercial broadcaster plans to ramp up its local drama efforts in the wake of the success of its scripted format Divorce, says deputy CEO and director of programming Peter Kolosi.

Speaking at the opening session of the NATPE Europe market in Budapest, Kolosi also dismissed the threat of US streaming service Netflix, which has launched recently in Hungary and the wider CEE region, saying it will have little impact locally and is not tuned to local programming tastes.

Kolosi stepped up at RTL in the wake of Dirk Gerkens‘ departure – and subsequent appointment at TV2. He has overseen the launch of Divorce, a comedy/drama format from Talpa and a major move as the first local drama to play in primetime for several years. A second season has been commissioned after the first run won a 22-24% share in its primetime slot.

Asked, in a TBI-moderated session, whether Divorce signalled the start of a local drama push, Kolosi said: “Absolutely yes, we are already working on other concepts.”

He added that the show has shown to the wider RTL Group there was an appetite for local drama and that locally developed dramas, as opposed to scripted formats, will also happen. “That’s absolutely in our strategy, there will be a time when local development will come onto screen.”

Moving on to the potential effect Netflix will have on the Hungarian market, the RTL deputy chief said: “We are going the central European way, which means it won’t have a big impact for some very specific reasons; first, in general TV viewing in Hungary is live viewing – there is some timeshiting, but compared to the UK or US we are in the beginning phase.”

Kolosi added that the US service does not cater for local viewing tastes. “If you talk about Netflix, it’s not local content, and is localised with subtitles in a market where people don’t watch content unless it is dubbed,” he said.

The market is also not big enough to sustain local production by the US streamer, according to Kolosi. “I don’t see a business model in coming to Hungary, a market of ten million, and producing.

“It’s not big enough for local production. Therefore Netflix can be a nice niche service for those people who want to consume more content than others.”

His comments come after other CEE TV execs claimed Netflix was ‘irrelevant‘ in the region. Netflix does not disclose country-specific subscriber numbers so measuring its performance in the CEE region is difficult.