A packed MIPCOM 2018, which saw 13,800 delegates, including over 4,800 buyers from over 110 countries in Cannes this week, reflected significant developments within the content creation industry.
In line with MIPCOM’s central theme of The Big Shift, those developments included:
- MIPCOM 2018 Country of Honour, China, clearly indicated its new strategic ambitions to export more programming to the worldwide market and to enter into co-productions with international partners. Multiple deals involving Chinese companies took place in Cannes.
- High-end drama series, from international sources such as Channel One Russia’s Trigger, continue to attract the major SVOD players and TV broadcasters alike. Talent was out in force to support new drama series with creators such as Spain’s Showrunner Alex Pina and Esther Martinez Lobato now considered stars in their own right.
- Personality of the Year, Issa Rae inspired MIPCOM delegates, sharing her passion, commitment and encouragement to foster opportunities for up and coming content creators.
- Momentum continues to grow for the entertainment industry to truly embrace diversity and equality in front and behind the camera.
- Powerful online companies are talking cooperation with traditional broadcasters while the latter develop their own SVOD strategies.
“There are new dynamics within the entertainment industry and the good news is that more people are watching more content, for more time, on more devices, than ever before,” noted Reed MIDEM’s entertainment division director Jerome Delhaye. “The debate now is how companies will compete or work together to get the right content to the right viewer.”
With 156 companies in Cannes and headed by China’s International Promotion Bureau of the State Council Information Office and China’s National Radio and Television Administration (NRTA), the Chinese delegation of over 400 executives, was the largest ever to attend MIPCOM or sister event MIPTV.
China came to Cannes with ambitions to develop exports of its programming and to foster co-production discussions with international content creators. Speaking at MIPCOM, NRTA vice minister Fan Weiping said, “Over the past 15 years, with the rapid development of China’s economy and society, China’s film and television cultural industry has become increasingly prosperous, and international communications and cooperation have been remarkably active…China would like to sincerely cooperate with all of its friends in order to stimulate a new dynamism in the international development of the audiovisual industry, and to contribute together to the prosperity of various cultures.”
During the week, a string of deals involving Chinese companies were unveiled.
- Endemol Shine China signed with film and TV production company Blue & White & Red Pictures and Chinese IP specialist Cloudwood to make a Mandarin-language version of British crime drama Broadchurch for the Chinese market. Endemol Shine have also pacted with CCTV to create an international version of popular Chinese series The Nation’s Greatest Treasures and will work with CCTV to co-develop new, unscripted TV formats for Chinese TV channels and international markets.
- Chinese internet service provider Tencent co-produced natural history series Dynasties with the BBC Studios as part of a wider deal that sees the duo working together to create a Chinese fan base for the BBC Earth Tribe web site which has just gone live on Tencent Video.
- Huace Film & TV announced a new phase of collaboration and co-production with eOne.
- Chinese content company Sansang Media has sold drama series Burning Ice to Japanese broadcaster NEP. The series has aired on Chinese streaming platform iQIYI.
What was clear throughout MIPCOM is that the appetite for high-end series is as strong as ever and companies brought an array of talent to Cannes, including Richard Gere – promoting another BBC political thriller drama MotherFatherSon – to add that special touch to their marketing campaigns.
Hot ticket event on 15 October was the World Premiere TV Screening of Escape at Dannemora, Ben Stiller’s TV directorial debut which started airing on Showtime in the US on 18 November. CBS Studios International brought Stiller to MIPCOM. Stiller noted that a few years ago, this kind of action drama would probably have headed to cinemas but that television now offers the best platform for telling great stories.
BBC Studios latest foray into epic drama, Les Miserables, saw leading cast members Dominic West and David Oyelowo in town where they rubbed shoulders on the MIPCOM Red Carpet with Sean Bean (supporting Sky Vision’s Curfew), Jenna Coleman (The Cry), Colman Domingo (Fear the Walking Dead) and Project Blue Book all-star cast Michael Malarkey, Laura Mennell and Aidan Gillen.
Confirming that prime drama series are coming from around the world, Spanish showrunners Alex Pina and Esther Martinez Lobato (La Casa de Papel) accompanied their latest project The Pier alongside lead actors Alvaro Morte, Veronica Sanchez and Irene Arcos. One of the first deals announced in Cannes was that France’s leading private broadcaster TF1 had acquired The Pier from distributor Beta Film.
MIPCOM Personality of the Year, Issa Rae, inspired MIPCOM delegates by sharing her passion, commitment and encouragement to foster opportunities for up and coming content creators. Recognised for her generation-defining influence on the entertainment industry, Rae’s web series hit Awkward Black Girl which she produced, directed and starred in, paved the way for HBO’s Insecure where she is writing, producing and starring in season three, with season four already ordered.
“Issa Rae epitomises the change within entertainment,” noted Reed MIDEM’s Television Division director Laurine Garaude. “She launched herself with Awkward Black Girl on her YouTube channel and now there is this great TV series on HBO. She has shown young creators that they can produce targeted shows that aren’t restricted by the need to reach the mass audiences craved by the networks. In addition, Issa Rae doesn’t talk diversity…she lives it.”
Speaking to a packed Grand Auditorium audience, Issa Rae commented on her first web series Dorm Diaries that she created while she was a student at Stanford. She said that the traditional (and expensive) route of pitching to networks had proved fruitless as she was told “there isn’t an audience for this type of content.”
For the second year, MIPCOM hosted the Diversify TV Excellence Awards with the support of A+E Networks. The Awards are dedicated to championing and promoting diversity and inclusion in all forms across the international television industry. Personality of the Year, Issa Rae, took to the stage to hand over the award for Excellence in the Representation of Race and Ethnicity (scripted) to Actor, Writer, Director and Producer Diederick Santer of Kudos Film & Television for ‘Boy with the Topknot.’
MIPCOM’s popular Women in Global Entertainment Power Lunch, held in partnership with A+E Networks, brought together many of the most influential female figures in TV. Headline speaker, A+E Investigates’ acclaimed host Elizabeth Vargas, noted “change is coming but we need to keep up the pressure.”
“Diversity and inclusion aren’t some kind of passing moment. They are central to The Big Shift. Inclusion, in all its forms, is essential in the entertainment industry and beyond. We are absolutely committed to using our events to promote and discuss diversity,” added Delhaye.
Mastermind Keynotes Chart Future
MIPCOM 2018’s conference programme provided a 360° appraisal of today’s TV and digital sector with top executives from around the world.
ITV CEO Carolyn McCall explained how her company is moving into the streaming marketplace next year. The SVOD service will feature British-originated content. McCall noted that in SVOD, Netflix might be a competitor while also doing acquisition business with ITV Studios, notably on Bodyguard.
- Gong Yu, Founder and CEO of China’s giant video streaming platform iQIYI grabbed the attention of his audience by announcing that the platform intends to start originating content rather than simply buying shows. He noted that AI is transforming the platform’s approach to its 200 million subscribers by creating profiling systems to customise content for viewers.
- BBC Studios’ CEO Tim Davie reflected on the shift from the company being primarily a BBC programme supplier to new types of agreements with third parties such as the mini-series deal between BBC Studios and Netflix to make a new 3×90 mins version of Dracula.
- Twitter’s VP and Global Head of Content Partnerships, Kay Madati told delegates that his company is a partner to TV, not a disruptor. Supported by examples from A+E Networks, Viacom and Sky, Madati explained how Twitter’s engaged and influential audience can extend the reach of linear broadcast content.
- AMC Networks CEO Josh Sapan promoted core values to his audience including the importance of great story-telling combined with great talent. Without naming the mega SVOD platforms, Sapan insisted that talent gets truly special treatment at AMC.
“The range of the conference programme keynote subjects and the thought-leaders who shared their ideas, is testimony to the vigour of entertainment in a shifting environment. The Big Shift is also about exciting new opportunities,” commented Garaude.