January 04, 2024

VRT remains a driver of innovation in the Flemish TV sector

Of all the new local television programmes in 2023, over half were made by or for VRT, according to an analysis of statistics from the Center for Information about the Media (CIM). And that’s no coincidence. VRT aims to be there for all Flemish people, and so it invests in new titles that make the difference.

Altogether in 2023, the Flemish public broadcaster launched 65 new local programmes, both fiction and non-fiction. Over half of them were on VRT: 34% on VRT 1 and 17% on VRT CANVAS. Of the new titles, 27 achieved, on average, over 500,000 viewers. More than three-quarters of these much-watched shows are VRT titles: 70% on VRT 1 and 8% on VRT CANVAS.

But the question is: who is watching these programmes? The top ten most-watched new titles amongst the entire Flemish population (over four years of age) include a whopping nine VRT 1 shows. VRT also scores well amongst young adults (18- to 44-year-olds), a target group that is very important for VRT. There are six VRT 1 programmes in the top ten most-watched new titles for this population.

Expansion of genres

It’s no coincidence that VRT is scoring well with its new shows in 2023. A conscious choice to invest in different genres lies at the root of this success. Traditionally, VRT performs well when it comes to factual, informational and fictional television. In 2023, VRT also invested heavily in leisure, entertainment and humor. This expansion is reflected in the strong ratings of programmes like BoomerIk heb het u letterlijk juist gezegd (“I Literally Just Told You”) and Ons huis/nieuw huis (“Our House/New House”).

What’s also striking is that many of the new VRT programmes are original concepts. Interview met de geschiedenis (“Interview with History”), 1985Rough DiamondsGodvergeten (“Godforsaken”), Een jaar op zee (“A Year at Sea”), Dagen zonder broer (“Days Without My Brother”): these are all formats that were developed by Flemish television producers. They were created by VRT’s own employees or external production houses commissioned by VRT. In addition, a handful of new formats have been bought and then adapted abroad. One example is Het verhaal van Vlaanderen (“The Story of Flanders”), the most-watched new programme of 2023. What’s more, the 33 new VRT shows are given a second life and remain available on VRT MAX.

As a public broadcaster, VRT invests in talent, as demonstrated by its many new local shows. And the plethora of international awards that Flemish TV producers are winning proves that there is a lot of talent here.

"It’s already been said of the Red Devils, but today we have a golden generation of TV producers. Not only are they exceptionally creative, they are getting better and better at transforming good ideas into strong formats. You can see that in the many Flemish formats – including those of our competitors – that are being picked up internationally. Commercially speaking, that’s a nice bonus, but more than anything, it makes us very proud." - Ricus Jansegers, General Director of Content, VRT

Grand cru year

“Once again, these ratings show that VRT is an important driver of innovation in the TV sector. In 2023, wanting to make a difference in our society, Lotte Vermeir (Network Manager of VRT 1 and VRT CANVAS) and her team came up with new programmes with a social mission. And they clearly succeeded, for all target groups. For the 18- to 44-year-olds, that’s not easy. That target group is more difficult to reach. And yet, they did it. But also in the “ages four and up” group, nine out of ten is no easy feat. So, that is more than a great distinction. It’s clear that the expansion is starting to bear fruit. So, we must look back on 2023 as a grand cru year. And with new programmes, like Juliet, Ik vraag het aan (“I’ll Ask”) and Niks te zien (“Nothing to See”), 2024 is also promising to be a strong year for VRT.” - Ricus Jansegers, General Director of Content, VRT