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Smashing Hit from Eastern Europe: Record-setting Ukrainian Series ‘Love in Chains’ Breaks into the Top of Polish Television

Ukrainian period drama ‘Love in chains’ (’Zniewolona’) premiered in Poland on the 1st of July. The series bowed in coveted prime time slot of the leading local channel (TVP1) and quickly followed in the footsteps of its phenomenal success back home by becoming the best series of the month.

‘Love in chains’ (Polish title - ‘Zniewolona’) tells the story of a slave girl Kateryna, who, having been raised as a lady of noble blood, finds herself caught in between two worlds and is striving for freedom and love. Kateryna will ultimately take control of her own life and find her love. The series opened with a 8,35% (4+ throughout) share and grew to 12,03% within the first week (for comparison the channel average for week of July 1st to 7th was at 8,55%). Thanks to this positive dynamic, TVP1 decided to air ‘Love in chains’ 5 times a week from the second week onwards (as opposed to 3 nights during the first week). This strategy has paid off: ‘Love in chains’ finished the second week with a share of 15,99% (2,279 mil. viewers in absolute figures). ‘Love in chains’ thus became not just the highest rated Ukrainian drama, but the highest rated TV drama in Poland in general for that period.

The upward trend continues:the third week saw the series ranking up a share of 17.06% on July 17th. TVP1 average channel share for that week was at 9,46%. The season one final on July 31th reached 20,1% share and was watched by 2,687 mil.  viewers. The second season premiered on the 3rd of August. The share has been growing with every episode and is watched by 3 mil. viewers on average. ‘Love in chains’ made it to the shortlist of highest rated programs on Polish TV and remains the highest rated TV drama on air among the auditory 4+.

“The popularity of ‘Love in chains’ grows with each episode. Not only is it an absolute record for a Ukrainian series on Polish TV, it is a ground-breaking performance for any series in Poland, period. We are intrigued to see the final results, once the series finishes its run”, - said Maciej Muzyczuk, film director, and Director of Agency for TV and Film Production TVP. The series was still on air on TVP1 at the time of this being written.

In this context it’s important to note the extraordinary coverage the series achieved in Polish national and social media. ‘Love in chains’ has become a trending topic nationwide in Poland. 

Success in Poland follows in the footsteps of the sensational performance of the series back in Ukraine, where the first 24 episodes aired in spring 2019 on STB channel. ‘Love in chains' set multiple viewership records domestically and became the highest rated series aired in Ukraine in March within the last 6 years. Average share for commercial audience 18-54 (50+) reached 18% and the final episode was watched by record setting 3,2 mil. Ukrainian viewers. The second season is premiering on STB channel this September.

The phenomenal performance of ‘Love in chains’ both domestically and internationally challenges the conception that only local fare can achieve high ratings.