Nova TV remains the market leader in Croatia. Interview with Program Director George Makris
Nova TV Croatia’s Program Director George Makris was among the executives who attended NEM Dubrovnik last week. In this interview, Stanislav Kimchev asked Mr. Makris about the tough period of the COVID pandemic and how the broadcaster managed to keep up its good results and remain the most-watched television in Croatia.
George, last year Nova TV celebrated its 20th anniversary amidst the corona outbreak. How did you start your third decade on air? Has 2021 been better for you than last year?
The last year was hard for the industry and we had to adapt to new market conditions. During this challenging time, when television remains the most reliable source of information, and during the lockdown when TTV viewing increased by almost 30%, we proved our position as leading media in Croatia. The viewers were constantly expecting timely, verified and quality information. The strategy to invest in news was once again proven to be successful, as during the time of more fake news emerging, true and quality information became more important than ever.
Besides top-quality news program, during the time of the lockdown and restrictions due to the COVID crisis, the audience was looking for ways to relax and be entertained. Nova TV recognized the needs of viewers and decided, after 6 years break, to broadcast 2nd run of highly successful daily series with humoristic elements No Matter What in Primetime. The series generated similar results as the 1st run broadcast with average audience share of 30%. The same series was recently successfully localized as a format in Bulgaria, Ukraine, Hungary and Greece.
So far, 2021 has been successful for Nova TV in terms of overall results and production. We remained on the market leader position for 12 years in a row. Even though the situation with COVID is getting better, we are still facing many challenges and uncertainty when it comes to production in general. However, we managed to produce everything we planned and successfully started launching our fall season.
What changes did you make in your content strategy because of the pandemic?
The last year was definitely different and unique, very challenging in all ways. We have the best team of people and experience in crisis management which helped us to manage the COVID crisis effectively. Although it must be noted that no one expected such scenario with this pandemic.
During the first pandemic wave we were forced to remove and partially stop the production of our local entertainment and fiction content. As previously mentioned, we successfully replaced it with the 2nd run of our series No Matter What. At the same time, we increased the duration of our Main News program, as viewers wanted to be more informed than ever. After the first wave and lockdowns, people were looking for less serious fiction content, so we decided to broadcast our series The Cops (Dar Mar), which had the great combination of drama and humor. Our decision to produce such daily series led us to building the biggest outdoor set in Croatia, which replaced locations and thus secured the series being produced without interruptions.
After the initial shock, we managed to quickly reorganize and successfully adapt to new situation. This way we secured the production needs and our leading position on the market.
You reported strong viewership during the first 5 months of this year. What were your most successful titles?
During this year, we aired our new daily series The Cops (Dar Mar). This series brings the same combination of drama and humor as the most successful series, which are Nova TV’s original formats No Matter What and At the Border. The Cops was the most watched series on the market and winner in its slot. We produced this summer the 2nd season which we are planning to broadcast this fall. As mentioned before, we aired the 2nd run of No Matter What, alongside The Cops. Besides fiction, we had the 7th season of Your Face Sounds Familiar, a special edition of 8 episodes with the best candidates from previous seasons, which was the most watched big entertainment show. Also, we have the most watched news program in the country for the 11th year in a row.
What are your plans for the fall season? Are you planning new series and shows?
As I said in previously answers, I am very pleased with how we managed to work during this challenging pandemic time. We managed to produce all that we planned despite the strict COVID measures, thanks to quick reaction and original approach in production of our formats. This is why this fall season we are able to broadcast entertainment formats such as daily MasterChef and weekly Got Talent, together with new season of our original series The Cops and the new comedy series Bogu iza nogu (Behind God’s Feet).
Nova TV is once again shooting series. What projects do you have in the pipeline?
We have just concluded the production of the 2nd season of the series The Cops and we are still in the production of the series Bogu iza nogu. Right now, we are in pre-production of the series planned for 2022 and soon we will start shooting.
Has the TV market now recovered following the 2020 downturn?
Despite the very specific and up until now completely unknow situation we faced during the pandemic, the television market has, after the initial downfall, slowly started to recover.
You also oversee the programming on Nova S in Serbia. What are the differences and similarities between the Serbian and Croatian viewers?
Viewing behavior is very similar in both countries, the structure of the population in terms of demographics is almost similar. The model of FTA television is similar across the region and televisions almost have similar type of content.
The SVOD market has been quite vibrant in the past few years, with many local players and international giants launching their own video-on-demand services. What is the situation in Croatia and what is your strategy in this respect?
Nova TV was the first in the market to introduce its own SVOD platform Nova plus in 2012. The main competitive advantage is exclusive local content and the possibility to watch it upfront. We firmly believe that the success of our SVOD platforms lies in exclusive local fiction content.
What is the situation on the niche TV market? Is Nova planning to expand its portfolio?
Nova Group in Croatia already has the most watched niche channel Doma TV, operating for 10 years now. Launching new channels does not depend on us, but rather the regulator who needs to publish a tender for new concessions. Currently, we are the only group with one niche channel while our competitors have at least two, which does not place all players equally in the market in terms of starting competitive point.