miptv it returned to Cannes after two years with a greatly reduced list of exhibitors, a compact agenda and bare Palais exteriors, devoid of its usual extravagant publicity. Organizer RX had the “pandemic effect” on its side, with most delegates on the ground, little else 5,000 in all, they say — appreciates in-person meetings and reconnecting with long-lost contacts. Questions remain about the future of MipTV, though: will RX keep the momentum going until 2023 when the event schedule returns (hopefully) to its pre-pandemic setting? Or, amidst all the tectonic shifts in the industry, will the global TV industry decide that an international meeting point is, in fact, necessary? read on for variety best takeaways.
MipTV with a new look
Anyone who went to Mipcom in October had already seen a stripped-down Cannes market, but it was shocking to see the bare exteriors of the Palais (usually decked out in the latest Fremantle drama or Turkish format), a wide open beach lined with buildings of the Riviera. and loungers instead of company stands. What was immediately apparent from a one-page exhibitor list is that most companies had skipped booths altogether, instead sending key executives to meetings in cafes and restaurants.
“Cafes are the place to be,” said one producer, who had rented a table at a cafe opposite the Palais to hold court for the day instead of a booth. Another production company chose to rent an apartment, which they used as a meeting room. The Majestic was also a hive of activity, particularly on a Tuesday afternoon when nearly every table on the outside patio was hosting gatherings. The Palais, by comparison, felt eerily quiet except for the opening remarks. Organizers have confirmed that MipTV will return next year in a three-day format, but it’s clear that RX has a lot of work to do in trying to recalibrate the Palais as a creative destination.
Impact of London screenings?
One question for international distributors in the run-up to MipTV was the effect the absence of several large London-based international distribution companies would have on buyer attendance at Cannes. A number of London-based distributors, including All3Media International, Fremantle and ITV Studios, did not take positions on MipTV, as they had already brought international buyers to their showings at the London Screenings, which ran from February 28 to March 4. However, some international distributor executives who attended MipTV said that all the major buyers they wanted to see at MipTV were in Cannes and that they had strong bookings during the event.
Tim Gerhartz, president and CEO of Red Arrow Studios International, said Variety: “It has been crucial for us to have face-to-face time with our partners after the pandemic, and MipTV has provided the ideal opportunity to do so. During the pandemic, many channels and buyers readjusted their strategies, so it’s been great meeting them on the ground and reconnecting in person. We have had some very productive and valuable conversations in Cannes and look forward to returning for Mipcom in October.”
Distributors get creative
MipTV’s increasing focus on creative negotiation is very much in line with the trajectory of international distributors, who continue to increase their involvement in development and production in-house or through subsidiaries. During a panel with top executives on Monday, Federation Entertainment founder Pascal Breton said the company was increasingly “content-driven.” “Increasingly, we’re not just distributors, we’re co-producers and co-developers, we’re helping with pre-sales, we’re building relationships with talent,” Breton said. The strategy allows distribution teams to fill the financing gap, retain intellectual property and have some leverage when negotiating with streamers and other buyers, explained Elisabeth d’Arvieu Bessiere of Mediawan.
Similarly, Sony Pictures Television’s Wayne Garvie discussed the perks of being independent in a conversation with Jane Tranter, co-founder of “His Dark Materials” production company Bad Wolf. Sony, which also owns “The Crown” production company Left Bank, bought Bad Wolf in December and Garvie argued his plans to be Britain’s largest theater operator. While the studio doesn’t have the built-in platform for Netflix or Prime Video content, it can self-finance projects (à la Alex Rider) and develop innovative, bespoke distribution strategies that appeal to tired producers. to see their shows fall down the SVOD rabbit hole.
New streamers playing ball with distributors
With each passing year, the streaming landscape in Europe looks a little more different. HBO Max was on MipTV for the first time this year, with its international boss Johannes Larcher discussing the platform’s ambition to be one of the top three streamers in the world. dealers count Variety that a new wave of players, including HBO Max, as well as Paramount Plus and rapidly expanding Scandi heavyweight Viaplay, are more flexible in their deals and willing to play games with distributors.
“All offerings are different and people are really hungry for content, so we can resell content to a streamer where they feel it’s really valuable and there’s local resonance, and we get the rights beyond that territory,” said Tim Mutimer, CEO of Cineflix Rights, who was in business with Jacob Batalon’s “Reginald the Vampire.”
“For acquisitions, sometimes they buy from multiple territories; sometimes we have a relationship and we offer a territory that they want, but they don’t necessarily say, ‘Well, it’s all or nothing.’ They’re willing to work with us to secure the great content they want in the territories they can. It’s not just, ‘We want this and only if we can get it everywhere.’ They understand that there is competition and that markets vary, so we cannot make everything available everywhere.”
Increasingly, film and television is a two-way street. Movies are being released at TV events, as evidenced by 101 Films International’s movie premieres, Abacus Media Rights and the one from Mexico peninsula movies on MipTV this week. Television companies are also selling produced-for-TV movies to theaters, as exemplified by Global Screen’s “The Conference.” Iconic filmmakers are still racking up series, Studiocanal sparking a drama series project with Ken Loach scribe Paul Laverty on MipTV. The latter is a case of simply following the best talent, do what you want to do, said Françoise Guyonnet of Studiocanal, a core philosophy endorsed by other industry leaders such as Oliver Berben of Constantin and Domingo Corral of Movistar Plus.
AVOD could be hitting a wall in Europe
Are AVOD and FAST (free ad-supported TV services like Samsung TV Plus) hitting a wall in Europe? US growth has been spectacular, rising from 17% of US households in the third quarter of 2020 to 34% in the third quarter of 2021, Guy Bisson of Ampere Analysis announced on MipTV on Wednesday. Outside of the US, however, AVOD and FAST have yet to find traction, with AVOD viewing households in Europe rising from 1% in Q3 2020 to just 4% a year later. One reason? “National broadcasters dominate ad-supported video streaming,” Bisson said, explaining that their market share increased from 39% of households to 43% in the same period.
Along with vertically integrated players, Europe is spawning a number of superindies like Mediawan, Federation Entertainment, and Beta Group, which have been consolidating while remaining independent. Beta has been expanding its presence in Scandinavia and, more recently, in France with a stake in French production company Anca; Federation also made several acquisitions of key companies in the US, UK and France with the Paris-based company Bonne Pioche. Following in Banijay’s footsteps, Mediawan has been aggressive on the acquisition front and aims to increase its presence in the English-speaking market. “Further on, there will be 10 big groups and about 500 independent companies,” Federation Entertainment’s Breton predicted.
Mipcom will be the TV confab to beat this fall
Those who were at MipTV weren’t necessarily sorry, but almost everyone, including RX’s own staff in some cases, was quick to emphasize that “Mipcom will be enormous.” By October, there is hope that more parts of the world will continue to open up to stress-free travel, and more countries will be represented at Cannes. American studios will also have more of a presence, and international distributors plan to reclaim their beachside stalls.