Mipcom – the largest international TV market – is changing fast and buyers and sellers are figuring out how to respond to the ever-shifting global landscape.
The corporate consolidation that has been the talk of the Croisette for the last few years has started to have a real-world impact on the distribution business, while the evolution of the streaming services means there are more complex negotiations taking places than ever before. Then there is the changing face of the market itself, which is now a separate market to its April sibling Mip TV.
Comcast’s NBC Universal Global Distribution has finally subsumed Catherine The Great distributor Sky Vision, Disney has brought 20th Century Fox Television Distribution into its beachside tent, while this market is likely to be one of the last where CBS Studios International and Viacom International Media Networks have separate booths and teams.
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Endemol Shine International and BBC Studios are back in town, having opted not to attend the April market with the latter debuting a brand new mega-stand that’s been described by one international exec as a “massive cheesegrater”.
The studios have long had a greater presence in October than in April, although a number of them are changing their focus from previous years. Sony, for instance, is focusing on its international non-scripted formats unit, rather than traditional scripted tape sales, and is hoping to lure buyers with a reboot of British gameshow Can’t Touch This.
Endeavor Content is likely to have a big presence in Cannes. Fresh from the Emmy-success of Killing Eve, it will be talking up the likes of its latest Agatha Christie adaptation The Pale Horse and formats including Justin Timberlake-exec produced Spin The Wheel, from Glassman Media, which it acquired this week. The company is also rolling the Wu-Tang Clan into town with a party held to promote two projects, Showtime’s doc series Wu-Tang Clan: Of Mics and Men (left) and Hulu drama Wu-Tang: An American Saga.
Hulu and the other SVODs, from Netflix and Amazon to the upcoming platforms including Apple, NBCU’s Peacock, Disney+ and HBO Max, are once again set to dominate the conversation in Cannes. While linear broadcast deals are still the bread and butter of Mipcom, securing deals with one of the digital services remains a priority. But this explosion has changed the way that rights are sold with a number of execs highlighting that this has led to a flexibility when it comes to securing rights.
Lionsgate, for instance, has managed to keep hold of the international rights to Anna Kendrick (right) romantic comedy Love Life, which was sold to HBO Max in the U.S. Lionsgate’s president of worldwide TV and digital distribution Jim Packer tells Deadline that it is “excited” about having the international rights to the anthology series, which is exec produced by Paul Feig. “A lot of the shows that Kevin [Beggs] is launching now have multiple parties interested so if HBO Max wants to keep the show, we’d have to do a rights profile that is a win/win for both of us,” he said.
Stuart Baxter, President of International Distribution at eOne, which is shopping Fox midseason drama Deputy, agrees. “I think we’re starting to see a little more flexibility; we are almost on a run of a new streamer a week. It all depends on the quality of the show; if a lot of people want a show, we can get more flexibility on rights.”
This rights issue goes both ways. eOne is producing Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s next project Run for HBO, a romantic-comedic-thriller. While Baxter says producing the show, which is being written by the Fleabag and Killing Eve creator’s writing partner Vicky Jones, gives the company “creative credibility”, HBO was insistent on keeping international rights. It’s not clear whether the WarnerMedia company has done this to keep for its own HBO Max service or for HBO’s distribution division to sell to international broadcasters.
This question of rights is becoming one of the most fascinating topics in the international business. There is still plenty of uncertainty as to whether the Hollywood studios will eventually hold back the rights to forthcoming titles for their streaming services. There has even been the suggestion that companies such as Hulu, which was one of the main partners for international projects given it was only focused on U.S. rights, have started considering taking rights for other territories as their models evolve.
If it does become an issue, some suggest, that it will benefit the second-tier distributors. Tim Mutimer, CEO of Banijay International, said, “It’s interesting with what’s going on with the launches of all of the streaming services like Peacock and HBO Max, some of those big U.S. studios are going to start holding back some of their content so that can only be positive for the other distributors. We are more free to do deals.”
Banijay is coming into the market with titles including Adam Scott-fronted, Ryan Reynolds-exec produced gameshow Don’t, and international dramas such as German/New Zealand crime co-pro The Gulf.
The importance of global projects is also growing; in the past, the Hollywood studios and firms such as Lionsgate and eOne would have focused entirely on North American projects, but many of them are repping shows from around the world.
eOne has Australian drama Between Two Worlds (left), produced by Seven Studios for its sister channel. The ten episode drama stars Cold Feet’s Hermione Norris, who plays Cate Walford, whose relationship with vicious, business tycoon husband, Phillip, is on the ropes and sees a tempestuous home life trapped in a tangled web of lies and manipulation.
In addition to NBC drama Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist and Spectrum Originals’ Manhunt: Lone Wolf, Lionsgate is shopping British titles including BBC comedies Motherland and The Goes Wrong Show. Packer says it presents these shows slightly different to U.S. fare. “They give us an opportunity to have something unique for the streamers, and some broadcasters particularly like to buy BBC shows so I love having them in the portfolio,” he said. “Think of all of the different models that are out there – I’ve got different models for everything from Motherland to Florida Girls to Manhunt and Love Life. There are a lot of different models being used now.”
Endemol Shine, which is celebrating the 20th anniversary of Big Brother in Cannes, also has a number of dramas out of the UK. It is repping Kudos’ Channel 4 series Deadwater Fell, starring Doctor Who’s David Tennant and The Good Wife’s Cush Jumbo, as well as porn thriller Adult Material, a slightly darker series from Fortitude producer Fifty Fathoms. Endemol Shine International CEO Cathy Payne, who revealed she was stepping down from the role in 2020, told Deadline that while the distribution business is “dramatically changing” with new streaming services, this is merely a boon for companies such as them. “A good show will always find an audience but when you have talent [like David and Cush] and everyone is packaging with creative and on-screen talent, it’s a very competitive world,” she adds.
Fremantle has a Latin flavour for one of its most high-profile launches in Cannes. The RTL-owned producer and distributor is prepping La Jauria (right) from Pablo and Juan de Dios Larraín’s Fabula, the company behind the Oscar-winning A Fantastic Woman. The eight-part psychological thriller, directed by Lucia Puenzo (Ingobernable), stars Daniela Vega and Antonia Zegers, who play a police force who specialize in gender related crimes. Together they investigate the strange disappearance of a young woman.
Jens Richter, CEO of Fremantle International, says, “Our unique selling point is to do the best drama from around the world. This is the first time that we’ve got involved in drama from Latin America. Now is the time for Latin drama to breakout and if we’re going to do it we need to do it with the best producers and bet high.”
In addition to British dramas, including BBC titles Working Title Films-produced The Luminaries and Euston Films’ Starz co-pro Dublin Murders, Fremantle has a slew of Scandinavian titles such as crime dramas Face to Face and Seizure, both from Miso Film for Viaplay.
NBCUniversal is also moving away from exclusively U.S. product this year. In addition to U.S. scripted series such as The Sinner and The Bold Type and non-scripted titles such as Bravo’s In A Man’s World, produced by Viola Davis and Julius Tennon’s JuVee Productions, it is taking out global shows and formats including Australian comedy drama Five Bedrooms, British formats including Monkey’s Britain’s Best Parent?, Blast! Films’ The Big Hospital Experiment and Israeli quiz show You Should Know.
Former NBC Entertainment Chairman Bob Greenblatt, who is now Chairman WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer, is one of the most high-profile U.S. execs that will attend the event. Greenblatt is giving a keynote address to talking about ‘The Streaming Offensive’ as his company plans to launch HBO Max and will be honored at a gala dinner.
There will be plenty of other top U.S. names including execs from Netflix, Apple, Hulu and Fox, while Deadline is moderating a keynote panel session with two of Amazon’s key international content bosses James Farrell and Georgia Brown.
There’s key talent too; Grey’s Anatomy star Patrick Dempsey is in town to promote his Italian thriller Devils, while British entertainers Ant and Dec will be cruising the Croisette to promote their gameshow In For A Penny, RuPaul Charles is sashaying into the city on the back of the international success of RuPaul’s Drag Race, William Shatner will beam in to discuss his History series The UnXplained, and Darren Star will provide a little Sex In The City.
It will be interesting to see what the temperature is in Cannes, both literally and figuratively. Earlier this summer, organizer Reed Midem made sweeping changes to both Mip TV and Mipcom, officially separating them to allow companies to allow companies to book stands for either/or/both for the first time. This was done to ensure the long-term security of the Cannes-set events.
Despite the challenges surrounding the April event, which will see most distributors forced inside the Palais rather than on the surrounding beaches, October is likely to remain a popular market for years to come.
Banijay’s Mutimer says, “Mipcom is still really important, there’s lot of buyers there and it’s still the most important market of the year.”
eOne’s Baxter adds, “It’s still an important market. Is it the centrifugal force for the industry it was a few years ago? No. That’s because shows come all year round and from a lot more places.”
Lionsgate’s Packer concludes, “Mipcom is evolving. Earlier on, you’d bring shows there just to get deals closed. Now, the market is to start, further or conclude conversations. We’ve got shows year-round, which makes Mipcom more important. I view Mipcom as an opportunity to be very thorough and efficient and be able to accomplish 150 meetings that you otherwise couldn’t.”
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