EXCLUSIVE: International TV sales chiefs have said MipTV’s waning power has been compounded by the coronavirus pandemic, which has accelerated the switch to year-round online sales activity and increased the emphasis on local and genre-specific events.
Speaking to Deadline ahead of the virtual MipTV next week, studio bosses acknowledged the continued importance of global markets, but questioned if there is space for two annual showpiece gatherings in Cannes. In response, MipTV organizer Reed Midem said it is always talking to delegates about designing markets to meet industry needs.
The decline of MipTV was in evidence last year, even before the pandemic swept the globe. Amid the increasing importance of local events, such as the London Screenings, studios including Fremantle, Banijay, and ITV Studios pulled out of exhibiting at MipTV in 2020. Major U.S. players like Disney have also long skirted MipTV due to its proximity to the LA Screenings.
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Since then, there has been a boom in studios hosting their own virtual sales events for clients, while the rise of video call technology has paved the way for distribution conversations to take place all year round. Furthermore, the London Screenings has gone from a loosely organized event pegged around the BBC Studios Showcase, to an official event, involving formal collaboration between Banijay Rights, All3Media International, Fremantle, eOne, and ITV Studios.
“MipTV has reduced in importance for us over a period of years, partly because of the London TV Screenings event in February but also because we’ve seen benefits from attending either specialist genre-specific markets and festivals or smaller regionally focused markets,” said All3Media International CEO Louise Pedersen. “We can send smaller teams to these and see good results. The distribution market feels like it has room for one big general market like Mip/Mipcom, but not two.”
Banijay Rights CEO Cathy Payne added: “The concept that you have to pitch a title at a given time in a given place, the same for when you launch a title to your intended licensees, has long been superseded.
“With offices globally, our team is constantly meeting their clients on a regular basis, so while it is always great to catch up again at a global market, the detailed day-to-day business does not happen at trade markets… Banijay will continue to attend trade markets as business needs dictate — in general, we see a greater push towards regional, as opposed to global events.”
And it’s not just the major studios that share this view. Vicky Ryan, the founder of Staged distributor Rainmaker Content, said “there’s no argument that MipTV is not what it was,” though she added that it could continue as a slimmed-down event. Sarah Tong, director of sales at Bloodlands sales house Hat Trick International, added that “the need to travel to expensive markets all over the world is no longer as necessary.”
Not all sales chiefs were down on MipTV, however, and the market has proven it can still score big names after netting a keynote with David Beckham. Jonathan Ford, the former Kew Media Distribution executive who now runs Abacus Media Rights, said the market will be a useful opportunity as a new player in the industry. “We still class MipTV as a key market for us, especially during a lockdown as it helps us reach the clients we haven’t been able to see directly this year,” he said.
Many studios are now looking to Mipcom as an opportunity for the industry to reunite. “We have already signed up to Mipcom as we hope this will provide a good opportunity to meet buyers (probably mostly European) and connect with the industry as a whole,” said Tong.
In a statement, MipTV and Mipcom director Lucy Smith said: “We are in constant dialogue with our industry partners and all our markets are designed to meet their needs. That is why Digital MipTV is built around the elements they most value — one-to-one meetings, market intelligence, content showcases and a sharp focus on doing business, not just talking shop. We look forward to seeing everyone online next week and back in Cannes in October for Mipcom.”
Check back on Monday when Deadline will publish full Q&As with 10 international sales chiefs.
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