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Industry Report: Market trends

Upbeat mood at MIPCOM 2011 as traditional and new media seek quality content

Upbeat mood at MIPCOM 2011 as traditional and new media seek quality content

- The 2011 world television content market MIPCOM in Cannes closed on 6 October in an upbeat mood as deals abounded across countries and platforms and messages of hope and reconciliation were ushered by keynote speakers. “The future isn’t either traditional or digital, it’s a feedback loop between the too, and that’s exciting,” said Fox Broadcasting Company President Kevin Reilly.

Reilly was one of several high-calibre speakers at MIPCOM who offered their personal views on current and future trends in the global entertainment content market, while 12,500 delegates from 4,211 companies and 102 countries filled the corridors of the Palais des Festival. Following four years of discussion over the potential threat for television and content from new technologies, the general consensus this year was that the various platforms nurtured and benefited each other, while content and creativity continued to have a pivotal role. In his keynote speech, Reilly gave the example of how Fox TV “shifted their mindset” by using social media to support television with their series Glee that was streamed on the VoD platform Hulu before TV transmission. The US studio also pre-released a full episode of its new comedy New Girl on iTunes and VOD before airing the pilot, and had two million downloads.

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Miramax CEO Mike Lang who attended MIPCOM for the first time, also insisted on the need for all entertainment professionals to embrace new technologies, and pointed the way by signing long-term deals with subscription video on demand (SVOD) providers Netflix and Hulu and creating an App capable of letting people watch some of its 700 films across Facebook, iPad and Google TV. Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos offered well-grounded hope to MIPCOM participants by reporting that TV series accounted for around 60% of Netflix’s separated streaming business.

The world’s largest SVOD service was in fact a very active buyer in Cannes, announcing a couple of European acquisitions. The company secured US rights for the mega-European co-production Borgia sold by Beta Film (soon to air on French Canal+) and for the Norwegian TV series Lilyhammer, which is co-written by and stars Sopranos star Steven van Zandt. In Cannes, musician and actor Bruce Springsteen, who heavily promoted the ‘fish out of water’ TV series about a mobster who goes to the former Winter Olympic city on an FBI witness-protection programme, said the Netflix acquisition was a ground-breaking deal that could start a trend for original language shows in the US.

Lasse Hallberg from Norway’s Rubicon TV, who produced Lilyhammer for NRK, also stressed that the new players active in the digital space were hungry for original programmes and might look more actively in each territory for original-language content that has thus far been ignored by conventional broadcasters.

The Scandinavian ‘crime wave’ of original language shows no sign of waning – TrustNordisk welcomed an offer from Australia on the Danish series Those Who Kill, which was picked up earlier by E1 Entertainment in the UK and Fox TV in Italy. ZDF Enterprises reported deals with the BBC (UK), SBS (Australia), AXN (Spain), Channel One (Russia) and KLB (France) on the Danish Broadcaster Corporation DR’s cult series The Killing (the third season is filming now) and another BBC sale was closed on the new Swedish/Danish crime series The Bridge.

Although a different genre, another high-quality Danish TV drama from DR scored with world buyers – the political series

UK co-productions under BBC Worldwide’s banner that generated strong buzz include the period drama Paradise’s End, written by Tom Stoppard and produced by David Parfitt which was sold to Australia (Nine Network), and the 8X50 Death in Paradise, the first co-production between the BBC and France Television. Atlantique Production, the French producer of Borgia and Death in Paradise also scored with another English language series, the TV adaptation of Luc Besson’s Transformers, sold by EuropaCorp to Australia, Russia, Spain, Japan, Poland and Korea.

World celebrated European directors that attracted media and buyers attention were Dutch filmmaker Paul Verhoeven, who presented his innovative interactive project ‘The Entertainment Experience’, which invites audiences to take part in the making of his film, and German auteur Werner Herzog, in town to promote his latest documentary In the Abyss – A Tale of Death, A Tale of Life. European acting celebrities who were brought to Cannes for a sales push included The Commitments star Colm Meaney, part of the Irish cast of Hell on Wheels (sold by Entertainment One), Ian Glen, invited by ZDF Enterprises for the launch of the detective series Jack Taylor, and Antti Reini, star of Finland’s crime series Vares (Bavaria Media TV).

“I think that what we are seeing is that there are great acting opportunities in television and that studios, producers and distributors are increasingly willing to invest in bringing international talents to our events to underline their commitment to the projects in front of the 4,400 acquisition executives and hundreds of media representatives who attend MIPCOM,” said Reed Midem Television Division Director Laurine Garaude.

Commenting also on the strong contingent from Russia (in Focus at MIPCOM) that came with 160 companies to Cannes (20% up on 2010) and China, represented by 52 companies (up 56% on 2010), Garaude added: “It’s clear that TV in all its forms is more international than ever before. The need for complex partnerships – across all platforms and territories – reinforces MIPCOM’s mission.”

Annika Pham


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