By Leah Hochbaum Rosner
Although it seems like NATPE was only yesterday and the Berlinale ended today, MIP-TV is right around the corner, set to take place earlier than usual — March 30-April 3 in Cannes, France. As such, TV executives the world over are readying their slates for a buying and selling extravaganza unlike any other. VideoAge probed Jene Elzie, vp, International Sales and Strategic Planning, for Los Angeles-based Comcast International Media Group (CIMG), to give us a glimpse of the type of programming she’s bringing to the Palais, how her company plans to be mindful of the world’s economic crisis and whether, despite the recession, MIP-TV continues to be a must-attend market for Comcast.
VideoAge International: What product are you bringing to this year’s MIP-TV?
Jene Elzie: We have an exciting and varied line-up of programming this year. First up, from the Style Network is Running in Heels, a docu-series focusing on the real-life drama behind the scenes at Marie Claire magazine. From E!, we have Candy Girls, which spotlights the often seen but never heard “video vixens” of the hip hop world. From Versus network, we have Sports Soup, which takes the hit E! channel series The Soup and adapts it for the wild and weird world of sports. And finally, from the Golf Channel, we have The Haney Project: Charles Barkley, a comedic makeover of sorts featuring outspoken NBA Hall-of-Famer Charles Barkley, the man with the ugliest swing in all of golf.
VAI: Is Comcast doing anything special for the market, i.e., a party, a cocktail or a press conference?
JE: We are being mindful of the economic climate like everyone else. This year is just not the time for a big, splashy event in our view.
VAI: Why does MIP-TV continue to be such an important market for Comcast?
JE: MIP gives us the opportunity, twice a year, to reach out to all of our clients and have that all-important personal interaction. With our offices as far away as Los Angeles, London and Hong Kong, it is important that we are all able to gather in one place to tend to our business. In today’s world of blackberries, laptops and text messaging, the art of human interaction can sometimes be lost, so it helps to have an event like MIP to bring it back into focus.
VAI: Are you focusing on any specific territories?
JE: I would not say that we are targeting specific territories at the expense of others, but we are always looking for growth opportunities in the markets. Certainly, territories like Central and Eastern Europe, India and Russia are proving to be key markets in our overall growth strategy. We also continue to rely on our traditionally strong markets like the U.K., France, Scandinavia and the Philippines.
VAI: How will the state of the economy affect the market?
JE: While the situation is bleak across the board, we, in television, are uniquely positioned to find the silver lining in the clouds. CIMG is particularly well positioned because of what we represent: a wide variety of high quality product of good economic value. As budgets grow tighter and profit margins decrease, buyers are under increased pressure to maintain those margins. Our content is top quality, but without the astronomical price tags to create it. That makes us a little less vulnerable to the volatility of today’s marketplace. We do not take this for granted by any stretch of the imagination, but we do recognize the value of the opportunities before us.