Co-production FAQ

Answers to your questions on how co-production works at the EBU

What is co-production?

Co-producing carries several advantages, all of which contribute to providing ambitious, diverse and impactful content to audiences. Co-production can involve jointly financing content which is often made by a third-party producer (the ‘co-financing’ model), or fully distributing the production work across different teams or networks, with each responsible for producing one element (eg an episode) according to a common production basis (the ‘exchange’ model). Most co-productions are a combination of the two, perhaps the most elaborate example being the Eurovision Song Contest, in which participating broadcasters make both a financial share to central production costs, and an ‘in-kind’ editorial contribution to the show through the selection and preparation of the acts. The EBU actively support a number of its Members’ co-productions.

Why co-produce? 

Advantages of co-production include:

  • Production efficiency: By distributing the production or financing of content across a number of countries or channels, broadcasters can realise efficiencies and direct cost-saving that allow them to realize more ambitious, impactful programming than would have otherwise been possible.
  • Audience scaling: Broadcasts across multiple territories of participating channels creates a scaling effect, adding impact.
  • Diversity: Distributing editorial aspects results in programmes of greater diversity than programmes commissioned and produced by a single editorial unit.
  • Exchange of best practice: Working together, broadcasters can learn from each other and exchange best-practice.
  • Rights control: In programme genres where broadcasting rights are commercially competitive (such as drama and factual programming), co-production among public-service channels allows retention of control over rights, which can be later commercialized.

What are EBU co-production networks?

We offer a range of consultancy services for Members wishing to co-produce. These cover co-productions in an early planning stage (‘Development’) as well as those in realization and delivery phases (‘Production’).

  • For projects in an early ‘Development’ stage:
    • Modelling: Advising on co-production models, timelines, delivery expectations, common standards, rights clearances (resulting in an agreed co-production ‘Term Sheet’)
    • Communications: Offering participation of the project to relevant EBU commissioning contacts in other territories, convening exploratory, kick-off or ‘pitch’ meetings.
    • Contracting: Preparation of agreements and budgets underlying the proposed co-production
  • For ‘Production’-stage projects, EBU offers:
    • Governance: Establishment and administration of editorial board / steering group to oversee production
    • Contracting / Rights Management.
    • Technical: File exchange platforms for contribution and delivery (also live transmission services for events).
    • Distribution: Resulting programmes can be distributed and/or commercialized within the EBU network.

All new co-production proposals are subject to acceptance by one of the TV genre expert groups (Documentaries, Fiction, Formats, Music) or the TV Committee.

How does it work?

  1. If you have a project for which you would like to explore co-production potential, please contact tv@ebu.ch. We can only become active in projects which are green-lit for development by an EBU Active Member. These may include projects led by an external independent production company but the first approach must come from an EBU Member.
  2. After an initial evaluation of the stage of which your project is at, the EBU will submit it to the relevant genre expert groups.
  3. If approved, the EBU will discuss and develop a co-production model, timeline and specification (‘Term Sheet’)
  4. This will be distributed across the relevant EBU member communities, and subject to sufficient interest from other members the EBU will develop a Co-Production Agreement, signature of which confirms production.
  5. EBU can (as required) oversee the production and governance via a steering group, acting as editorial board during the production phase.
  6. If possible within the agreed rights framework EBU will offer the programme to other (non-participating) broadcasters.

What are some examples of EBU Co-productions?

Contact detail

Matthew Trustram
Head of Television
+41 22 717 2623
trustram@ebu.ch
LinkedIn