1,000 television and digital executives, including some 4,000 buyers, descended on Cannes this week for the 51st edition of MIPTV.
With a central theme ‘the new age of storytelling,’ MIPTV witnessed the continued development of high-end drama and formats originating from around the world, strong co-production activity, an emerging international market for online content creators – reflected in the inaugural MIP Digital Fronts – and a coming together of online and offline players.
With over 100 countries represented, business was truly international. On the exhibition floor, MIPTV welcomed new South African, Israeli and Indian animation pavilions, a bigger Mexican delegation and first time exhibitors Bloomberg Media and Pan-African news/entertainment channel Arise News.
As the week went by, MIPTV saw just about every conceivable cross-border deal imaginable - proof that international business is driving the new entertainment economy.
Underlining that formats know no barriers, Israel’s Armoza Formats and China’s Jiangsu Broadcasting Corporation (JSBC) presented what is thought to be the first-ever format to come out of China, ‘Celebrity Battle.’ “I believe there will be more and more Chinese formats emerging onto the global market,” commented Zhao Jun, Head Controller of JSBC’s Programming Department. Armoza and JSBC are partnered to develop future global formats.
During MIPTV it was revealed that Frank Spotnitz, the showrunner behind ‘X-Files’ and ‘Hunted,’ is to develop high-end drama for StudioCanal’s German-based Tandem Communications as part of a first look distribution deal. While warning that coproductions are not always an easy creative ride, Spotnitz said that Tandem President’s Rola Bauer’s reputation in the coproduction field had been a deal-making factor.
Amid a flurry of international sales agreement, ITV Studios successfully closed deals with digital platforms and TV broadcasters in China and Thailand. These included more than 500 hours of programming as part of a multi-year output agreement to supply Chinese internet service provider Tencent with 100 hours per year of drama series such as ‘Endeavour,’ ‘Murdoch Mysteries’ and ‘Miranda.’ Shanghai Media Group committed to 120 hours of shows annually for its International Channel Shanghai and Thai PayTV broadcaster Next Step has signed up for 300 hours of factual and nature programs.
In the new age of storytelling, content is increasingly originating from around the world and one country that is drawing particular attention in the scripted and unscripted format sector is Israel – the subject of a special MIPTV Focus, in partnership with the Israel Export and International Cooperation Institute.
Admitting that he is more at ease dealing with content than conferences, Keshet Media Group’s CEO, Avi Nir, told his keynote audience that demanding Israeli viewers encourage Keshet to keep on innovating. “Our success is down to the fact that we keep them (audiences) on their toes. We keep surprising them,” he said. After the success of “Homeland” – adapted from Keshet’s original “Prisoner of War,” the company was doing brisk business with unscripted format ‘Rising Star’ – now sold in over 25 territories - and gameshow format ‘Boom!,’ which France’s TF1 acquired during MIPTV and which Fox has in the United States.
Over at Dori Media Group (DMG), another domestic hit in Israel is proving to have international format appeal. DMG’s reality show ‘Power Couple,’ which launched domestically in February, was acquired by SIC Portugal, with FremantleMedia Portugal making the new version.
And adding to Israel’s growing reputation in the format sector, Endemol signed a multi-territory, format deal with Israeli content and production company Studio Glam on upcoming reality competition show ‘The Extra Mile.’
Just how far and fast the lines are blurring between the online and offline companies was evident when Red Arrow International brought author Michael Connelly to Cannes to promote ‘Bosch,’ based on his best-selling Harry Bosch detective novels.
Produced by Fabrik Entertainment, the pilot was commissioned by Amazon Studios which called on online viewers to determine whether or not the pilot should be developed as a series. The answer was a resounding ‘yes.’ Red Arrow was selling ‘Bosch’ to the international television community during MIPTV.
Coinciding with MIPTV, unconfirmed media reports circulated that Yahoo is about to follow web powerhouses Amazon and Netflix into the original programming sector, initially focussing on half-hour comedy series. And Microsoft’s Xbox Entertainment Studios has green lit a first scripted series, ‘Humans,’ to be coproduced with Britain’s Channel 4 and set to premiere on the Xbox platform in North America next year.
The importance of original online video production was clear to see during two days of hectic activity, packed conferences and well-received content showcases that were all part of the inaugural MIP Digital Fronts.
MIPTV has long played host to online content creators and carriers by showcasing digital content and technology at MIPCube, honoring online program creators at the International Digital Emmy Awards and providing conference platforms for the likes of YouTube, Netflix or Amazon.
Industry luminaries such as Publicis Groupe CEO and MIPTV 2014 keynote, Maurice Lévy, have given their thoughts on how digital will impact the entertainment industry. In Cannes this week, Levy welcomed the possibilities that online access to customers provides brand advertisers.
But word in the exhibition halls was that the new MIP Digital Fronts is a welcome and timely addition to the business calendar, reflecting the importance of online content creation and distribution in the new entertainment economy.
“For over 50 years, MIPTV has been the destination to produce, finance, distribute and acquire content from around the world,” said Reed MIDEM’s Laurine Garaude. “Now, with MIP Digital Fronts, it naturally becomes the international digital content marketplace and the new global destination to produce, finance, distribute and buy original online video.”
The new event saw online content presentations from YouTube, Maker Studios, Dailymotion, Vice and Chipotle and well-attended showcases from SmokeBomb Entertainment, Vuguru and What’s Trending.
Perhaps the most explicit comment on whether it is still pertinent to discuss online and offline relations came from Shane Smith, Founder and CEO of multi-platform digital studio Vice. “I’ve been coming to MIPTV for a long time and people keep asking me ‘Are you on TV or digital?’ All I can say is that I don’t give a sh*t. All I care about is the content,” Smith said.
Speaking after a presentation of the studio’s most recent productions, including ‘Black Market’ and ‘Fresh off the Boat with Eddie Huang,’ Smith challenged his audience to forget about traditional TV and digital differences. “We’re Generation Y and there’s been a change of the guards in media. We’ve deals with YouTube, with Facebook and with TV networks,” he reminded delegates.
Rene Retchtman, President of International at US-based Maker Studios, talked up the democratisation of entertainment, brought about by the growth of digital channels and innovative content. British video games devotee Joseph Garrett and American comedian and musician Chester See - both of them huge Maker Studios hits - were presented as two of the most talented performers that mainstream television has never seen. Garrett told MIP Digital Fronts attendees that he is launching an online kids’ education channel, to be created by Maker Studios.
Amazon Studios Director, Roy Price, drew a packed audience to his Media Mastermind keynote. Seeking to reassure producers who are wary of a digital studio belonging to the world’s biggest online bookstore, he insisted that Amazon’s strength is providing producers of programming with access to millions of viewers. “At the end of the day we are a commercial outfit,” he noted.
Amazon Studios has produced 24 pilots and gone into production on 11 high-end series including comedy ‘Alpha House,’ starring John Goodman. Upcoming pilots involve US film director Whit Stillman and TV/film star Ron Perlman.
Once again, a host of international stars graced MIPTV to promote new shows to the international market.
Popular American TV host Jerry Springer opened proceedings with a MIPDoc keynote address in which he discussed his latest project ‘Tabloid’ - a behind-the-scenes look at the stories making the headlines. Best-selling author Michael Connelly was enthusiastically promoting new series ‘Bosch,’ based on his popular Harry Bosch character, former ‘Sex and the City’ star, Kim Cattrall was in Cannes as Co-Executive Producer and star of ‘Sensitive Skin’ and actor/Producer Amy Poehler took to the stage to talk about odd-couple comedy ‘Broad City.’
Rapper Curtis ’50 Cent’ Jackson made his debut appearance at MIPTV as Executive Producer of MIPTV’s World Premiere TV Screening ‘Power’ from Starz, in which he also features. He was joined on MIPTV’s Red Carpet by ‘Power’ lead actor Omari Hardwick, singer/presenter China Moses, ‘Bosch’ star Titus Welliver, ‘Farmed and Dangerous’ lead Ray Wise and Maggie Gyllenhaal, star of new BBC drama ‘The Honourable Woman’ – acquired in France by PayTV Canal +.
While acting talent garnered interest on the Croisette, top international executive talent took centre stage at the MIPTV Médaille d’Honneur gala dinner to pay tribute to the careers of four outstanding television leaders.
The Médaille d’Honneur awards were received by Twentieth Century Fox, President International Television, Marion Edwards, Channel One Russia CEO Konstantin Ernst, Herbert Kloiber, Chairman and Owner of Tele Munchen Group and Seven West Media CEO Tim Worner.
Marion Edwards admitted that she had never imagined spending over 30 years in international television distribution. “The international television business has been such an unbelievably exciting place to work…if there was a time to be a TV consumer, it is now!”
With Mexico lined up as the MIPCOM 2014 Country of Honour, ProMexico, the trade and investment arm of the Mexican Ministry of the Economy, began priming the celebratory pump at MIPTV. With 29 companies on the Mexican Pavilion and several more on their own stands, the Mexican delegation more than tripled in size compared to 2013.
“We are strong across all genres, from documentaries and drama to animation, through post-production, plus we have sound stages and production facilities that are the equal of anything in Los Angeles and Canada,” said Alejandro Delgado, ProMéxico’s Chief of the Grants Division and Institutional Relations. Mexico currently produces some 100,000 hours of television programming annually and Alejandro Delgado is hoping that the Country of Honour programme will boost his country’s media exports which are already growing at 8.3% a year.
For more innovative film, subscribe to EYESIN.com and follow @EYESINMagazine.