In a sign of these changing times, Mipcom organizers today said they hosted 1,700 VOD and SVOD buyers at the Riviera market this week. A notable phenomenon was the increased presence of streaming and social media companies, with short-form mobile video a focus. That was amid more traditional, if original, fare in scripted and unscripted and a notable push towards the artisinal. At the same time, although The Weinstein Co was not scheduled to attend the market, disgraced mogul Harvey Weinstein loomed large over Cannes as one of the main topics of conversation among attendees in what felt like a somewhat muted atmosphere.
Facebook and Snap were a decided part of the proceedings with the former touting its Facebook Watch service, and the latter unveiling a joint venture with NBC to create a digital content studio tasked with adding scripted programming to Snap’s Shows platform.
Facebook also turned heads with the announcement of a remake of Norwegian teen hit Skam, on which it is partnered with veteran exec producer Simon Fuller.
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As for Netflix, which said this week that it will invest up to $8B in original content in 2018, its impact (and that of Amazon which is dealing with the fallout of the scandal involving Roy Price who resigned two days ago) is at the forefront of a trend that will see broadcasters have to step up much earlier in a project’s life to maintain a seat at the table. One exec says that so-called old-school buyers are feeling squeezed out and that if they don’t come in early, they’re going to increasingly lose to the deep-pocketed streaming giants. The tables have turned, and now it’s broadcasters who need co-productions rather than the studios. Companies that can spend a lot on IP and development have begun to have more leverage.
In terms of product, on the drama side, there was a showcase for Medici: Masters Of Florence. The Magnificent which Beta Film boarded ahead of the market from executive producer Frank Spotnitz and Altice Group. World War II also continues to be a theme with BBC drama World On Fire and Euston Films and UFA Fiction’s adaptation of Robert Harris’ latest novel, Munich.
But it’s not all doom and gloom. One executive told Deadline that while themes of Armageddon and disaster are still around, there is a trend towards lighter, quirkier fare. The success of NBC’s breakout This Is Us is also a sign of folks wanting to feel more connected in such a disconnected landscape.
On the unscripted side, there appears to be a move towards home, hearth and the artisanal. That’s seen in part as being spurred on by the success in the UK of Great British Bake Off.
In that vein, a major project ripe for format expansion is Universal Television Alternative Studio’s Making It (previously The Handmade Project), a competition reality show from Amy Poehler and her Paper Kite Productions which earlier this year received a six-episode straight-to-series order by NBC. It celebrates artisanship and the makers who can create amazing things with their hands and a few tools. Deals are expected to soon surface.
Meredith Ahr, President, Universal Television Alternative Studio, told me ahead of the market, “You know you can tune in to these shows and be motivated and uplifted and hopefully do something yourself, whatever avenue that might be.” Ahr’s a believer in humor, heart and courage. NBC Alternative & Reality Group president Paul Telegdy also told Deadline the company’s “story at Mipcom” is “originality and creativity.”
From All3Media’s Studio Lambert, Best In Shop: The Artisan Food Challenge was a priority for the company. The competition series sees famous food experts on a mission to find the best new artisanal products. BBC Two ordered eight episodes last month.
Also in the artisanal space, FremantleMedia’s The Artisan, which premieres next month in France, follows six craftsfolk as they search for the perfect apprentice.
Music and dance remain lucrative (see Uni TV Alternative’s success with World Of Dance which has previously been sold internationally). Talpa announced it is moving ahead with The Voice Senior in the Netherlands (and unveiled an ambitious global format, Lost In Translation) while FremantleMedia secured a deal with Denmark’s DR for The Recording Studio. Billed as a heartwarming series that follows ordinary people given the opportunity to capture the most important song of their lives. The format recently received a BBC One pilot commission. Keshet International also limbered up its Masters Of Dance.
In sum, Mipcom organizer Reed Midem’s Laurine Garaude sounded a bullish tone today: “Barriers are tumbling throughout the TV and digital industry. New partnerships are being formed between established television companies and digital platforms. Major groups are embracing change and taking a long-term approach by investing heavily in new content destined for all devices. And there is an increasing acceptance that great content, tailored for different audiences, will be a key to success in the future.”
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