By Leah Hochbaum Rosner
With this edition, we’re concluding the Road to MIP-TV series, since next week, TV executives from around the globe will get the real McCoy when they descend upon Cannes. By this time next week, MIP-goers will be reading all the news that’s fit to print before they get bored, directly from VideoAge Daily at MIP. For those who were left behind because of the recession, the news will be available online at this same URL.
Despite some dire predictions, many executives are expecting a good market, and, like many others, David Ellender, CEO of U.K.-based FremantleMedia Enterprises (FME), will be in the Palais des Festivals ready for deal-making. He spoke with VideoAge about the types of shows he believes will draw buyers to his booth, why he’s not letting the economic climate get him down and why an earlier than-usual MIP-TV and a later-than usual L.A. Screenings won’t affect the way he plans to do business in Cannes.
VideoAge International: What product are you bringing to this year’s MIP-TV?
David Ellender: FME will be offering a range of high-caliber new productions across the genres of drama, comedy, factual, entertainment and pop culture. We are very excited about the launch of Jamie Oliver’s new series, Jamie’s America, which will see him go on the ultimate road trip — traveling around the U.S., trying real American food and meeting its unsung chefs and producers. Also of great importance are the launches of the second seasons of the outstanding drama, Merlin, elite music show Live From Abbey Road, newly launched primetime hit True Beauty and the upcoming entertainment variety show, The Osbournes Reloaded, which will also air in primetime on Fox in the U.S.
VAI: Why does MIP-TV continue to be such an important market for FME?
DE: MIP-TV is a great opportunity for us to meet with both buyers and programmers around the world to showcase a variety of new content across a range of genres from producers FME represents spanning the U.K., U.S., Canada and Australia.
VAI: Are you focusing on any specific territories?
DE: For every property we have a specific sales strategy so everyone will be working very hard at the market. FME operates 12 international offices servicing 150 territories worldwide. Our content pretty much works in every continent. However, we do favor mixing our programming portfolio with content that is originated in more than one market. We have dramas available that have been produced in the U.S., Germany and South America, and lifestyle content from Canada, the U.K. and Australia. We have a pretty diversified slate.
VAI: What are the main issues facing MIP today and how will the state of the economy affect the market?
DE: Broadcasters will have a more difficult time attracting and retaining viewership with reduced advertising revenue available. But given the number of surefire hits we distribute, we will be especially committed to listening to and working with our partners to find ways to succeed during these challenging times. As for the economy, it’s extremely likely that the climate will make buyers more selective, but we’re confident that our existing hit brands and franchises — American Idol, Celebrity Apprentice, America’s Got Talent, Project Runway, The Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency, Grand Designs (Kevin McCloud), international drama sensation Merlin, and series from Jamie Oliver, Martha Stewart and Emeril Lagasse — will carry us through together with the new U.S. hit programs, True Beauty and The Osbournes Reloaded. Plus, we have over 100 hours of new content coming from Thom Beers’ Original Productions, the U.S. Travel Channel, plus three new series and two returning series from Spike TV.
VAI: Since the L.A. Screenings are later this year, do you think this allows executives to be more focused on the business at hand at MIP-TV? Why/why not?
DE: While the entire landscape within the industry is evolving, we have always found our clients to be very attentive and focused, especially when they are seeking the latest reality or entertainment series… which they won’t find during the L.A. Screenings.