The rapid growth in the number of TV broadcasters and online content carriers around the world, coupled with the internationalisation of increasingly diverse content production, resulted in the biggest MIPCOM ever.
The 30th edition of the event welcomed executives from a record 112 countries and an all-time high 13,700 delegates – including over 4,600 buyers of which 1,300 were acquiring digital and VOD rights.
And throughout the week it was clear that the industry’s priority is to get original global content out to the growing global audience.
With content driving business, distributors are diversifying their catalogues to meet new consumer and broadcaster demands. Among them, North American producer and distributor Tricon Films & Television is moving into kid’s animation and live action.
International powerhouse distributor Tandem Communications, best known for selling high-end drama, was in Cannes with Hollywood icon Donald Sutherland who has co-written, produced and voiced new animated feature ‘Pirate’s Passage’ for CBC Canada – further proof of distributors’ appetite for diversification.
Sutherland was one of several major names, including Matt Dillon, Cuba Gooding Jr., Elizabeth Hurley, Louis Gossett Jr., Aunjanue Ellis, Morgan Spurlock, Aamir Khan, Tcheky Karyo and M. Night Shyamalan, in Cannes to support their various TV projects.
Night Shyamalan, attending his inaugural MIPCOM, explained that his decision to finally direct his first TV series, Fox’s ‘Wayward Pines,’ was that TV was increasingly bringing great art to audiences, with budgets and artistic freedom that are becoming rarer in the film sector.
The renowned film director isn’t alone in making the move into TV. Harlan Coben, best-selling author of mystery and thriller novels, came to Cannes with TF1’s ‘No Second Chance,’ the first of his books ever to be adapted for TV. Coben admitted that he had never really been interested in television until he began to see the quality of such series as ‘Breaking Bad.’
Reflecting the blurring of lines between film and TV, MIPCOM hosted the first Film Commissions Day. Olivier-René Veillon, CEO of the Ile-de-France Film Commission, told his conference audience that the commissions are becoming increasingly aware that they need to consider the importance of TV for their business.
Inside the Palais des Festivals MIPCOM venue, the 2014 conference programme drew huge audiences as industry leader followed industry leader on stage. Major conference highlights included:
• James Murdoch, Co-Chief Operating Officer, 21st Century Fox, described the pre-MIPCOM merger of Shine, Endemol and Core Media as being an opportunity too good to miss, creating a global leader in entertainment production. Accepting that Fox’s MySpace investment had been a “total write-off,” Murdoch insisted that Fox is not averse to calculated business risk either in technology or, for example, in its acquisition of ‘The Simpsons’ library in order to make it available online. He predicted that the current window model for airing content will adapt or become obsolete. He said Fox’s creative capacities and commitment to making content is its best defence against the tech giants such as Google.
• Hot on the heels of its recent European expansion, Netflix’s Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos hinted that the digital streaming service’s entry into Asia is “just a matter of timing.” He said Netflix’s recent arrival in France and Germany has provided encouraging viewing hours per subscriber results and that in addition to financing French drama series ‘Marseille,’ Netflix is talking to Gallic animation companies on co-producing original cartoons.
• Maker Studios CEO Ynon Kreiz told his MIPCOM audience that given the shortened attention span of the millennial generation, the demand for short-form video content is going to grow and grow. He said Disney’s acquisition of Maker Studios extended the media giant’s business into short-form and allowed Maker Studios to leverage the global Disney resources.
• Chinese Internet entrepreneur and Sohu.com CEO, Charles Zhang, said the Chinese Netflix equivalent would invest heavily in original content, develop in-house online series, increase acquisitions from independent Chinese producers and begin buying Hollywood movies.
• Danish toymaker Lego is following on from its megahit feature ‘The Lego Movie,’ by moving into television next year. Jill Wilfert, Lego’s VP of Global Licensing and Distribution said the company is looking at reality competition formats and a lego-inspired documentary.
• Film and documentary-maker Morgan Spurlock, describing himself as “platform agnostic,” expressed his enthusiasm for online distribution and short form formats for documentary and non-fiction content.
During a gala dinner at MIPCOM, the Personality of the Year, Simon Cowell, proudly announced that his company, Syco Entertainment, had just sold ‘Got Talent’ to Mongolia – the last place on earth that hadn’t already acquired the reality phenomenon (although Cowell was unsure whether Papua New Guinea had bought the show)! The success of ‘Got Talent’ is proof that the hunger for content, across all platforms, is truly global.
MIPCOM’s Country of Honour programme, produced in partnership with ProMexico, saw a record 125 Mexican companies in Cannes. Spearheaded by the country’s international powerhouses Grupo Televisa and TV Azteca, MIPCOM 2014 highlighted Mexican talent and creativity. Televisa President, CEO and Chairman, Emilio Azcarraga Jean, said the group’s TV channels are seizing the opportunities offered by digital development with broadcasters such as Channel 5 actively encouraging viewers to interact with each other and with the broadcaster.
As usual, the multitude of deals signed during the week was diverse in nature. Viacom closed a multi-year agreement with Amazon Prime in the UK which included UK rights to ‘Kung Fu Panda’ and ‘Awkward.’
Mexico’s TV Azteca pacted with Electus International to take Mexican rights to the US distributor’s ‘Food Fighters’ culinary reality hit.
French pay-tv Canal+ came on board as the first broadcaster to back Italian crime drama ‘Zero Zero Zero’ from Italian production company Cattleya.
In the flourishing Latin American market, Argentinian producers Germina Films and Prisma Cine inked a co-production deal with Brazil’s Plural for a 13-episode drama series.
BBC Worldwide, as active as ever, confirmed that the BBC’s Natural History Unit is teaming up with Japan’s NHK to co-produce a new natural history series ‘Wild Japan.’
And A+E Networks concluded a raft of deals with EMEA broadcasters for Lifetime Original Movies. These included agreements with RTL in Belgium and Vox in Germany.
“This has been a record-breaking and a particularly memorable 30th edition of MIPCOM,” notes Laurine Garaude, Director of Reed MIDEM’s Television Division. “We saw extensive deal making and energy on the show floor, with Mexico as Country of Honour, a record number of key programme launches – including two incredible series: eOne’s “The Book of Negroes” and ITV’s “Thunderbirds Are Go,” at the MIPCOM World Premiere TV Screening and the first MIPJunior World Premiere TV Screening – and an amazing line-up of top industry executives and celebrities.”