The Rise in Television Production Incentives in the United States and Worldwide

Conference: The Asian Conference on Media, Communication & Film (MediAsia2021)
Title: The Rise in Television Production Incentives in the United States and Worldwide
Stream: Broadcast Media & Globalization
Presentation Type: Virtual Presentation
William Kunz, University of Washington Tacoma, United States


There was a time when most scripted television production in the United States was confined to a small radius around Hollywood, but that is no longer the case. There are so-called runaway productions that escape in the service of story as well as natural economic runaways that pursue lower costs. What has changed since the mid-1990s is the explosion of artificial economic incentives – tax credits, rebates, and other inducements at the state, provincial or national levels – designed to attract film and television productions. This study is a political economic analysis of financial incentives for scripted, fictional programming on U.S. broadcast television networks, 2010-11 thru 2019-20, and basic cable, premium cable, and streaming services, 2010 thru 2019. The sample includes English-language series with an average episode length of 40 minutes or longer. The time-period studied features the rise of streaming services, including Amazon Prime, Hulu and, most importantly, Netflix. The study measures whether these incentives increased the concentration of production in credit-rich hubs and how the introduction of streaming originals impacted the push for incentives. The overall results show a dramatic increase in the number of original scripted programs, driven by premium cable and streaming services, and significant increases in the percent produced in incentive eligible locations around the United States, Canada, and the rest of the world, reaching over 90% for basic cable, premium cable and streaming in 2019, and over 80% for broadcast networks in 2019-20. The results provide an important pre-Disney+, HBO Max, Paramount+ and Peacock

Virtual Presentation

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