Along with an emphasis on cross-border series, among the takeaways from this week’s Mip-TV market was the increased merging of technology and content. Of the 4,000 acquisition execs in town, 800 were VOD and digital buyers – a 30% jump on last year. Cinedigm did a digital/VOD deal for more than 1,000 episodes of TV shows from Australia’s ABC which CEO Chris McGurk said reflected the “ever-growing importance of efficient, cost-effective delivery of digital content worldwide.”
YouTube was part of the discussion. Tim Hincks, president of Dutch giant Endemol, which has over 100 YouTube channels, said the company will soon launch a new Fear Factor channel, effectively reviving the brand in the U.S. But he stressed that “It’s not how much you’ve got, it’s what you do with them. It’s tying them together and marketing to the consumers and YouTubers on the different channels.”
But BSkyB managing director of content, Sophie Turner Lang, urged attendees to “Talk about the shows, not the pipes.” It’s storytelling that engages audiences, she said, noting that creative meetings have reversed from mostly being about story and talent to being about “protection and digital delivery.”
Eli Roth was in Cannes to support his upcoming 13-part Netflix series Hemlock Grove which is released in its entirety on April 19. Many people I spoke with were in favor of this type of distribution – from a personal perspective. But BBC drama controller Ben Stephenson said, “For us, the art of turning on a TV and watching with the rest of the nation” is “really important.” New projects from the BBC include a just-announced Australia origin series which it’s discussing with international partners.
That series will be shot in Oz, so is likely not a candidate for the new UK TV tax credit that went into effect on April 1 – another topic of discussion. Showtime’s John Logan and Sam Mendes series Penny Dreadful will be one of the first international productions to take advantage of the 25% break that goes to qualifying drama series which cost more than £1M per hour to produce. One senior UK TV executive told me, however, that they were concerned the tax break could result in inflated budgets. “Dramas don’t need to cost” £1M an hour, the person believes.
In formats, Warner Bros. International Television Production acquired rights to distribute game show Money Time from Spain’s 60db. Spain has drawn focus thanks to the international success of Endemol’s Your Face Sounds Familiar. Red Arrow’s The Taste, which debuted strongly on ABC in January, has closed local version deals in Germany, Canada, Australia and France and more are on the way.
There was an increase in companies attending from Eastern Europe and Latin America and the Chinese were out in force with broadcasters looking to make increased investments. China’s CCTV 9 and BBC Worldwide are teaming to co-produce natural history series Hidden Kingdoms and Austria’s ORF entered a co-pro deal with CCTV for a series of wildlife and nature films. Keshet International’s Alon Shtruzman told me that Chinese buyers were coming to see him in droves. After opening a UK production division to work with local companies on scripted and non-scripted fare, Shtruzman said he’s thinking about setting up an office in Singapore or Hong Kong. The company that’s behind the original version of Homeland, “doesn’t want to be a one-trick pony,” he said. Keshet sold format Sure Or Insure to the Nordic territories and spy drama MICE, which NBC is adapting in the U.S., was sold as a local format in Russia.
Finally, there’s some buzz on Ainsi Soient-Ils, a French TV series that airs locally on Arte. Paris-based Film and Picture sold the Arte/Zadig Productions series to eight European territories including remake rights to Italy’s Publispei. The story follows a group of five young candidates for the priesthood as they go through their apprenticeship. The first season was a hit for Arte which immediately ordered a second.