Los Angeles — The standards have changed for what types of programs are now co-commissioned, co-produced and acquired by the U.S., according to Carrie Stein, executive VP, global productions, Entertainment One.
There was a period of time where a show offered at a reduced license fee would be appealing to U.S. networks, she said.
"Many of those show have come and gone and didn't perform," Stein said during the Content Industry Connect LA conference Wednesday in Los Angeles.
"Now there are more U.S. buyers and the economic models have changed significantly," she added. "The biggest change I've seen is a show has to be great. It doesn't matter if it's free."
Stein recalled offering shows for free to U.S. networks, which ultimately declined the programming if it wasn't strong enough.
Rebecca Segal, senior VP, Sky Group, who also spoke on the panel — "Exploring a Revolution in the Global Scripted Marketplace" – agreed that the quality of content is everything.
"Everything starts with a great story and also has to be delivered by someone who can deliver that vision," Segal said of the type of content that is appealing for her company. "If all those ingredients are there, it's not hard. There's a lot of really good programming out there, but not a lot where you go, 'Wow'."
Although the American television market has had great success with limited series, this segment of the business is something the panelists tend to shy away from.
"There is only so much money as a studio you will make out of eight or 10 episodes," said Philippe Maigret, president, scripted programming, ITV Studios America.
He did say, however, series like HBO's True Detective and FX's Fargo would be appealing due to their ability to have multiple seasons.
"We don't do a lot of them," Stein added. "There's lots of effort and then it's done. [There is] not the same amount of upside."
While the panel was not keen on limited series, there was much discussion about a supposed renewed interest in procedural formats in the global TV landscape.
"The notion is any procedural show is worth looking at," Stein said, referring to recent articles she has seen touting the demand for procedural dramas internationally. She has since seen an influx of these types of projects from producers.
"They are very average," she said. "There has to be a really strong sales element that gets someone's attention."
Maigret also finds the concept of a great procedural that can make it in the U.S. and distribute well internationally extremely challenging, citing The Mentalist and Criminal Minds as successful examples.
"The core part of my job is to find projects presented by an American writer for an American television network," he said. "The only problem is there is no American network I can think of that will take a pitch for a one-hour procedural."
"The way people watch and consume TV has changed," he added. "I think in five years [international broadcasters] won't be asking for procedurals."