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MIPTV 2010 successful meeting place of thousands

Alliances ranged from traditional co-productions to content providers teaming up with social media players as cross-media business thrived in Cannes during MIPTV 2010 this week. The event attracted 11 500 delegates, including 4 000 buyers (5% up on 2009) from 107 countries.
MIPTV 2010 successful meeting place of thousands


Japanese broadcaster NHK has been particularly active on the co-production front. The company has joined with Discovery's Science Channel for the multi-year, multi-million dollar documentary “Squid: Last Mystery of the Deep” and at MIPTV, NHK Educational Corporation and Al Jazeera Children's Channel announced they would work together on the 26-episode “Discover Science” series.
DQ Entertainment of India, Method Animation, Story Board Animation and French public broadcaster France Televisions said they would co-produce the new 3D CGI animated series “The New Adventures of Peter Pan,” budgeted at $12.4 million. Sky Italia launched its first international co-production, partnering with the BBC on an 8-part drama “The Medici,” created by Shine Group's Kudos Film and TV and co-developed by start-up Italian production company Wildside.

“It's clear that there is an appetite for international partnerships across the board,” said MIPTV director Laurine Garaude. “With broadcasters still feeling the effects of the dip in advertising revenues, there is a need to spread financing across several partners. It's been particularly noticeable that Asian countries are increasing their co-production profile, which is why this year's conference programme has provided dedicated sessions to co-production opportunities in Japan, China, Malaysia and Singapore.”

Country of focus

Singapore, this year's Country of Focus, was actively promoting co-production opportunities during this week's event. Acting Minister for Information, Communications and the Arts, Lui Tuck Yew, making his first trip to Cannes, stressed that Singapore will develop international partnerships. Singapore's Media Development Authority and FremantleMedia Enterprises this week launched the International Animation Fund to boost co-productions in Singapore. The fund will invest up to $3.5 million per project in new animation programming which has a Singaporean partner. FremantleMedia will distribute worldwide.

Event mini-series in evidence

On the fiction front, big-ticket event mini-series, many of them bringing together international partners, were clearly in evidence. British author Terry Pratchett and actor Charles Dance were in Cannes to promote “Going Postal.” ALL3MEDIA International launched international sales on the 2x120 minutes HDTV drama based on his novel, which has been commissioned by Sky1 in the UK. Starz Media was continuing to sell “Spartacus: Blood and Sand” which is about to go into production on a second season following strong first season ratings in the United States and Canada. Starz recently appointed president and CEO, Chris Albrecht, told MIPTV delegates that his company is teaming up with Ben Silverman's new multimedia studio Electus to develop two major mini-series “William the Conqueror” and contemporary action thriller “Peacekeeper.”

Sony Pictures Television, Tandem Communications, Peace Out Productions and Scott Free Productions chose the event to announce that they are joining forces on a 4-hour event mini-series “Pompeii,” based on the Robert Harris best-seller. Tandem, which worked with Scott Free Productions and Muse Entertainment Enterprises on the $40 million “Pillars of the Earth,” based on the Ken Follett novel, reported that they have optioned “World Without End” - Ken Follett's sequel to “Pillars of the Earth” - which will be produced in partnership with Scott Free Productions with Starz Media co-funding script development.

Commenting on the renewed interest in international co-productions, Chris Albrecht stressed the need for producers to look beyond their national borders for both financing and audiences. “Whether you're producing a high concept drama, a star-studded mini-series or even an of-the-moment reality series, it's simply impossible to make real money producing for your domestic market alone. Where once the domestic market could be thought of as the major profit centre for studios and networks, now there are very few shows that don't reach into foreign territories, one way or another, in order to become the profit engines they need to be,” he told a packed conference.

Format interest surges

With broadcasters keeping tight control of programming budgets and remaining risk-averse, one of the hottest programming genres at the event was the format. Over 400 companies from 57 countries and 665 delegates packed into the inaugural MIPFormats conference, networking and project-pitching day on April 11.

“Reaction to the first MIPFormats has met and exceeded our expectations. Formatting is not new, but the economic crisis, the relatively cost-friendly budgets and the cross-border appeal of formats, has meant a resurgence of interest in this sector of the industry,” commented Garaude. “What we have tried to do is not only provide insight into the development of the format business, but also use the project pitching sessions to introduce creative talent to potential partners so as to develop new projects at their earliest stage.”

Throughout the week, companies announced a string of format deals ranging from international versions of competitive game and adventure reality shows, to home improvement programmes and cooking-based fare.

Comcast International Media Group reported during MIPFormats that format rights to E! Entertainment Television's “Reality Hell” had been sold in Italy, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and France.

South African format for US

Ben Silverman's Electus brought Chinese gameshow “Big Time Spender” to the international market. The international version of the show is being developed by Mark Burnett Productions and Sweden's multi-platform television development company Bringiton and underlines that original sources of format programming are becoming ever more international. Electus is also co-producing a version of the South African interactive treasure hunt game show “Thumb Wars,” for the US market.

FremantleMedia is the latest major company to get into the popular cooking sector with “Look Who's Cooking,” and the FremantleMedia team, headed in Cannes by chief executive Tony Cohen, unveiled the Creative Exchange Alliance with leading Japanese commercial broadcaster Fuji Television Network. The alliance will see senior creative executives from Fuji and FremantleMedia spending time in each other's companies to share ideas and insights in order to co-develop and co-produce new formats for the international markets.

France's newly formed Havas Productions, which is part of the giant Havas advertising group, announced that it plans to develop new formats and tie up deals with independent producers to represent their formats internationally via its distribution subsidiary Upside Distribution.
There were also indications that formatting is going beyond its traditional supply base of game shows. Addressing delegates, Marion Edwards, president Intl. Television at Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution reported increasing interest in scripted formats, which have the benefit of already having been developed or aired as finished programming. “We have a vault of great drama and comedy scripts and pilots that can provide a shortcut to success for channels,” said Edwards.

Cross-media deals flourish

With the event hosting the International Digital Emmy Awards, the Content 360 festival and the Digital VIP Summit and Think Tank, plenty of attention was focussed on the way content providers are factoring in internet, mobile apps advertising partners, brands and social networks as they go about their creative business and devise ground-breaking deals.

In a series of ‘firsts,' Electus announced plans to develop and produce the first multicultural, interactive telenovela “Pedro & Maria.” Electus' Ben Silverman has devised the modern day take on Romeo and Juliet for television and the web, with viewers using digital platforms and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to participate in plot and character development. Confirming the advertising and brand specialists' increasing role in content creation and presence, Proctor & Gamble Productions will act as co-producer with MTV and Electus, creating original commercials and unique branded entertainment opportunities for Proctor & Gamble beauty and health brands.

French media group Lagardere Active signed a strategic partnership with YouTube. Lagardere will provide the international YouTube community with branded, ad-supported channels carrying a selection of its television and radio programming as well as premium clips from its flagship brands such as Elle. By the end of 2010, YouTube users will access over 600 hours of Lagardere library catalogue, 40 hours per month of TV programs and more than 1,000 premium clips from the Lagardere stable of brands. Speaking to a packed press conference, Lagardere Active CEO Didier Quillot noted, “the global agreement gives our video content stronger exposure internationally. This alliance is part of our digital development strategy.”

For YouTube, Henrique de Castro, Google and YouTube vice president of Media and Platforms commented, “Such a global deal with a giant media group is a first for us. We aim to become a must destination for online video.”

Hot on the heals of the Lagardere deal with YouTube, Zodiak Entertainment subsidiary Marathon Media, which produces TV animation hit “Totally Spies,” and games creator and publisher, OUAT Entertainment, announced that they are launching “Totally Spies! Fashion Agents!” as the first game to be adapted from a television series and destined for social networking site Facebook.

In another new development, Zodiak is advancing with apps for iPhone and Facebook based on its upcoming “The Age Guessing Game.” While apps are increasingly common for existing brands, Zodiak has decided to generate a cross-platform entertainment package for a new concept.
The apps are being developed by Zodiak subsidiaries Neo Network, Mast Media and Grand Zentral. According to Mast Media MD Mark Baker, apps may soon change the way programming is commissioned. Baker told journalists that where the commissioning process has traditionally begun with television, the trend may be towards first producing online product which develops such a following that it encourages television commissions.

“The speed and breadth of developments in entertainment is breath-taking,” said Garaude. “Story-telling is the heart of entertainment, but the coming together of television, brands, advertising, Internet, social media and mobile applications is encouraging new forms of creativity, new forms of deal-making and new partnerships which have clearly been evident at this event.”
Watch videos, interviews and articles on MipBlog and MIPTV website.
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