Transnational Encounters with British Screen Entertainment: The Experiences of young audiences in Denmark and Germany and the implications for public service media

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A broad interpretation of public service has always included entertainment as a vital component of the public service remit, that is not separate from education and information, but integral to a holistic understanding of public service. If public service providers are unable to entertain the public across their drama, factual and education offerings, they risk alienating audiences, and the legitimacy of public funding. In this sense, entertainment as part of culture is indicative of a way of life (Raymond Williams) where fictional and factual entertainment can simultaneously inform and entertain bringing diverse communities together and contributing to the public conversation (BRU).

Yet across Europe we know that audiences are engaging less with public service providers, and this is particularly true of younger generations. However, we know very little about how and where young Europeans find screen content, how they experience and interpret it, what It is that they value about screen narratives, and how these encounters affect their understanding of the world. What we do know is that younger audiences are avid consumers of screen entertainment on transnational platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime , Disney Plus and YouTube, and that increasingly content offered by domestic public service providers such as the BBC, ARD, ZDF and DRTV is no longer appealing to them. For example, while 90% of our Danish respondents aged 16-19 regularly used Netflix, this dropped to 26% for the public service streaming service, DRTV, and 10% for broadcast channels (Screen Encounters with Britain – Interim Report Denmark, 2023).

Concentrating on young people aged 16-34 living in Denmark and Germany this paper provides insights into this generation’s engagement with entertainment by focusing on how they engage with British screen content in a radically changing landscape of digital encounters. Our findings are based on surveys (800 plus), digital activities (50) and interviews with young people (numbering 40) aged 16-34. The findings are relevant because much of the British content young people encounter has been commissioned by the UK’s publicly funded public service broadcaster, the BBC, but also commercially funded broadcasters with public service remits, notably ITV and Channel 4. Traditionally UK distributors like BBC Studios and ITV Studios have sold UK content to other public service providers, including ARD and ZDF in Germany and DRTV and TV2 in Denmark. But this content is now available in greater volume (e.g., Red Rose, Peaky Blinders, Luther, Sherlock, Dr Who) on subscription video-on-demand platforms where public service associations are no longer visible or apparent. Additionally, SVODs are also commissioning their own “public service” British entertainment (e.g. The Crown, Sex Education) in efforts to appeal to both older and younger viewers.
Focusing on encounters with British content and drawing on survey and interview findings with audiences aged 16-34, this chapter will provide insights into how young people in Germany and Denmark find, access and experience screen entertainment from their home country, the UK, and the US. What motivates them to watch (including social media and recommendations) and how do they rank English-language entertainment against the offerings of Danish or German providers including public service broadcasters? How does British content, with its strong public-service roots, compare to US-American content in their eyes? What entertainment genres does this generation prioritise, and what role does language play? Are we seeing a shift away from domestic language programming to programming in English with English sub-titles, even in countries like Germany where all foreign-language content has traditionally been dubbed ? Findings will identify what young audiences believe they do not find at home, and why they seek out overseas entertainment, offering potential lessons about what younger generations look for, what they value and why.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationPublic Value Studie: Öffentlich-rechtliche Qualität im Diskurs
Subtitle of host publicationDie Bedeutung Öffentlich-rechtlicher Unterhaltung in Zeiten des Digitalen Wandels
EditorsM. Kettemann
Place of PublicationWien
PublisherÖsterreichischer Rundfunk, ORF
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 22 Oct 2023

Publication series

NamePublic Value Studie
Publisherösterreichischer Rundfunk (ORF)


  • Public Service Broadcasting
  • Youth
  • Denmark
  • Germany
  • Netflix
  • DR
  • ARD
  • ZDF
  • TV2
  • Television entertainment
  • Drama
  • Universality
  • Peaky Blinders
  • Genres
  • societal value
  • Access and Discovery
  • YouTube
  • TikTok
  • Humour
  • Talent
  • Authenticity
  • English


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