Silvia Majeská; Zdroj: TV Nova
5. 3. 2024

At the beginning of February, TV Nova celebrated its 30th anniversary since it began broadcasting. On this occasion, the programming director, Silvia Majeská, who is in charge of both Nova’s and the slovak Markíza’s programming revealed in an interview whether the two TV stations can be connected, what viewers in the Czech republic and Slovakia want to watch and how she sees the future of nova.

Nova celebrated 30 years. How would you evaluate this period?

This question comes up a lot. I was wondering how a person who has been here for a relatively short period compared to 30 years and who is from another country can evaluate it.

But that may be an advantage for your evaluation, you can keep your distance.

Maybe, but I may be biased as it is really an honour for me to work for Nova. I think it’s great that Nova has managed to launch television that people watched then and still watch 30 years later. I think that is a really amazing achievement and the main thanks go to the viewers who have remained loyal to us and watch our programmes. They keep giving us the energy and the desire to bring more and more things that they like. A huge humility is part of it all because we are television with a good track record.

How were you looking forward to celebrating Nova’s 30th birthday?

It is a bit strange because we have been preparing for the celebrations since last year. They have different phases, they are intertwined with the programming, marketing and communication, we will also go out to the audience. It is a very complex topic, but it is obviously a great feeling. I think 30 years is a really beautiful age, it is a kind of maturity. Really, when I think about it, I am flooded with hope that if we have made it through the 30 years up to now, we will make it through the next 30 years. Nova still has a lot to offer.

What is your vision for the next 30 years?

The world is evolving fast. The progress of digitalisation and technology is changing everything and creating new opportunities. It is naturally changing the way audiences are watching content, and we are seeing that especially with younger audiences. I think video content consumption will continue to grow and will only get fragmented based on the ways in which viewers watch their favourite shows. Everything is getting more individual and personalised, but I believe strong and quality stories will always have a place on TV.

When Nova started broadcasting back then, it brought a revolution to the market in terms of the type of programming offered and the approach to news. It has shown over those 30 years that it can keep up with trends. That is probably what we have been focusing on most recently – being ready for the challenges of the future and finding a way to continue to bring our fans stories that they enjoy watching and that they can find with us.

What are the challenges of the future? Where do you look for inspiration? In the last two or three years, Nova has expanded the number of channels, you have started making your own series... How is it going to go on, haven’t you reached your limit?

We have definitely not reached the limit of our strength and certainly not the limit of our appetite (laughs). I think we have a passion for what we do. At Nova we have a team of people who are very keen to bring things that the audience enjoys, so we are also united by a mutual desire to move forward in some way.

Of course, we often draw inspiration from abroad. It gives us some perception of what we can expect in the future. The overall consumption of video content in the world is growing, as is the interest in quality video. We have built one of the biggest creative teams for feature filmmaking here, we have a really strong production, we have multiplied the number of projects we have produced. We think we are ready for the future.

The Czech and Slovak markets are small and according to surveys, viewers spend longer looking for something to watch than they spend watching TV. Aren’t you afraid of flooding the viewer?

We are not afraid because this we think is our advantage – we are able to create series and projects that people seek out and watch en masse, whether it is on linear TV or on Voyo. People want and will want to watch something that is entertaining. The problem of too much content on the platforms actually plays into the hands of linear TV. There you will find pre-selected content that is presented to suit the audience on a given station at a given time of day. To fit in the viewer’s “life cycle”.

How did you deal with the time-shifted viewing? Or is it still true that viewers sit down to watch TV around 8 pm?

Fortunately, this is still true. Of course, the share of time-shifted viewing is also growing, but the dominant viewership is reported during the live broadcast, which means within 24 hours in our calculations. The proportion of viewers is incomparable, with the majority watching the programme within the first 24 hours. There is a slight increase in the percentage generated by time-shifted viewing but it does not seem like it is going to be vice versa soon. It is a natural moment of watching content: I wait for a new episode because I want to know what is going to happen next.

Or I wait and watch maybe two or three episodes at a time.

Exactly, and that is the advantage of the modern way of distributing content. There is the option to have the whole series together, and even viewers who don’t have the patience to wait from week to week can watch it.

Which is your most watched station? Is it still the main Nova station?

Yes, it definitely is. Nova is the most watched station in the Czech Republic among the active population, which is the age range of 15 to 54 years old, and with that comes a lot of responsibility. Today, when everyone is more concerned with their personal needs and personal consumption, it is not easy to create a programming line-up and offer programmes that can reach the masses of viewers.


What does a programming director actually do?

That is a common question (laughs). But until now I haven’t found a simple answer. Does he or she form a programme? (laughs)

Do programming directors just sign scripts or do they come up with the programme themselves?

The programming director actually prepares the programme strategy. This means that he or she is in charge of proposing solutions for each day of the week and for key time slots. That is, what and what type of programme will be broadcast on which day at which time. After that, more detailed work is required. The individual slots have some parameters and some focus. You have to work closely with the development and production department to arrange for the programmes. The programming director is also in charge of what the channel portfolio looks like. That is, which stations are in that portfolio and who they are aimed at, what programmes they offer, what their programming concept is...

As far as scripts are concerned, of course, programming directors are involved in the assessment of projects that have been in the pipeline for a long time because it is very important to set the right tone. The project is prepared and production is ordered with some idea of where it will run. We know what kind of audience we want to reach, and that is very important.

If you really like a show, do you push it through even if others are against it?

I very much welcome teamwork. Basically, there is no one in the world who can 100% guarantee that a programme will work because there are so many parameters to have an impact. That is why it is very important to really work in a team and to have a team of people who are experienced and really have insight. It is important to somehow confront and discuss your perspective with them. Then we know that together, we have arrived at the best solution that we can bring to the audience.

Of course, there are things I believe in. But it is not as easy as waking up in the morning and saying: I want to air this, and we are on the air right now.

Some series are available in both Czech and Slovak versions (for example, Zlatá labuť and Dunaj), Markíza is now running Specialisté in Czech. Have you thought of broadcasting any Slovak series in Slovak on Nova?

That is a very good question. The fact that there are Czech crime series on Markíza in Slovakia is a relatively recent change. Historically, it has not been done, but some time ago we dared to try Policie Modrava, one of the most successful series on Nova TV, and we found that the Slovak audience responded very positively to it. That is why we expanded the volume of Nova’s crime series that Markíza offers. And by launching Markíza Krimi in Slovakia, it opened up the opportunity to collaborate even more on this genre.

As far as the exchange of content in the opposite direction is concerned, Nova has already broadcast, for example, the Slovak version of Undercover Boss in the past. As for minor channels, Nova Fun broadcasts the series Súsedia, Nova Lady broadcasts the series Oteckovia, so we are trying to incorporate Slovak content into our broadcasting plans. In Slovakia, we don’t make crime series. That genre has not been successful there for a long time, we have had more success with the Slovak adaptation of the series Případy mimořádné Marty, as it is called in the Czech Republic, in Slovakia we have Výnimočná Nikol. That was actually a crime series that had more success after a long time.


Is the Czech and Slovak audience the same? Are there any differences?

Sure, it is the same as asking if Czechs and Slovaks are the same. They are not. Every nation has its own specifics, some of its needs, some of its favourite things, and the programme has to reflect that. If they were the same, we would probably broadcast the same programmes. But they are not too different markets. We are similar in some ways, perhaps because we are drawing on a common history.

You mentioned that crime stories are more popular in the Czech Republic while in Slovakia, they are not in great demand.

Yes, I have often said that strong emotions tend to work in Slovakia, and that was our long-term explanation for why crime genres did not work there. Slovak viewers did not need to solve an equation in a series and reach a conclusion, but they needed to cry, to fall in love. They were just looking for different attributes and I think that is still true to some extent. We see it on Voyo as well. Voyo offers a lot of Czech and Slovak content and can swap some programmes. It is great that we can offer the opportunity to watch both Markíza’s and Nova’s programmes to those who are interested.

Is there any difference in viewership during the week and on the weekend?

Yes, the number of spectators varies. I think it sort of naturally follows the cycle of the week and historical habits. Most viewers are in front of Czech screens on Sundays, especially on Sunday nights. Sunday is generally strong. The second most watched day in prime time is Monday.

Is viewership still the highest between 7 and 9 pm?

Yes, it was always around 8.50 pm. That is the time when most of the spectators showed up. That is what we call the first prime time segment, which starts at 8.20 pm. It corresponds to the time when the most people are in front of the screen. The second prime time is after 9.30 pm. It is the start of the second prime time segment, which follows the first one.

Do you come to work in the morning and discuss the ratings?

Yes, each morning the previous day’s viewing figures come in, and of course, those figures are then updated with the time-shifted viewing data, so we have the viewing trends for the specific day and specific programme. We can see the whole day, all the programmes, all the stations. We can see what the viewer watched, if they switched off something, what they watched instead. That is important for us to track whether they like or dislike something, whether they are happy with us, whether the way we have served it up to them suits them within the day. We make changes based on that.

Have you always worked in television? Have you ever tried radio?

No, I haven’t because I actually got into TV right away, relatively soon after college. It was always my dream job, I didn’t even think to look elsewhere. I have been very lucky that I have always been given some kind of opportunity to move on within the company, so I have been able to learn something new, and I love that.

You once said that when you interned at MTV, you worked in two departments at the same time.

Yes, the departments were looking for students at the time, so I said I would take both and we would see how it worked out in practice. It gave me more of a chance to learn, and it was actually my first contact with television. I had an amazing supervisor who showed me how acquisitions worked, how setting up a broadcast structure worked. They were just launching a new channel at the time and I was able to learn what it was actually about. It is not easy get engaged in these matters. An outsider has to be really lucky to have some experience to even get into those departments and learn how everything works. For me, it was actually a stepping stone.


Are you looking forward to something now? For example, a new series?

I always get excited when something is launched, it is my adrenaline rush every six months. When a new season starts, I get so excited. I am filled with anticipation how it is going to turn out. Then we have some lessons learnt, which we process for a while, and soon after that, we are preparing the next season.

But you also have the programming pillars, such as the series Ulice. It has been on the air for 20 years and still has high ratings.

We are even trying to make sure that the generation of viewers is changing, meaning that Ulice should have the opportunity to attract younger generations of viewers. Because multigenerational viewing of the series works very well, there are multigenerational characters and really diverse stories. We have a very experienced team that works to make sure that the characters and the stories reflect the people and their experiences. The series is prepared well in advance to be ready for specific days, specific weeks and months. It should accurately reflect the needs and mood of everything that people are experiencing. We are extremely proud of Ulice, it is one of Nova’s flagships.

Another such series is Ordinace v růžové zahradě. Viewers made a “revolution” when you wanted to end it in 2021.

We didn’t want to cancel it, we pulled it off the main channel and moved it to Voyo. We are really happy that Ordinace is continuing because it is very popular on Voyo and it is still getting new viewers, which is great. It is produced by a very skilled and experienced team.

You are in television all day. When you get home, do you still watch TV? Are you able to perceive it as an ordinary viewer?

When I come home, I don’t watch TV because I have little children, so they are the first thing I deal with. But I love to watch programmes of any kind, anywhere. I have been a TV fan since I was a kid. TV is my dream job. Talking about what I watch at home and if I can watch it as an ordinary viewer, the answer is yes, absolutely. At the end of the day, I am watching content with some personal feelings and personal sympathies but naturally, you can’t avoid some professional deformation. But I am very happy to watch something to relax.

Do you prefer crime stories or something else?

It depends. When my husband and I are watching, we tend to choose adventure or crime series. When I am alone, I like to watch typically female content and undemanding stuff.

Being a mother of young children, are you planning a childrens channel?

We don’t have a children’s channel in the Nova Group, but we do have a beautiful children’s section on Voyo, which is full of favourite fairy tales in the local language. In that respect, Voyo is convenient for kids and moms, they can watch whenever and wherever they want to. And it is available without ads.

How do you relax when you are so busy?

I prefer to relax with my family, our activities are adapted to the age of our children. I don’t mind being busy, I keep telling myself that I am very lucky in my life, I have healthy kids and I have a job that I enjoy and find fulfilling, so I try to be grateful for that.