With MIPCOM drawing near, VideoAge caught up with Patrick Roberts, senior vice president of International Sales at DRG and Saralo MacGregor, the Santa Monica California-based executive vice president of Worldwide Distribution at the London-based Fireworks International, to find out what both U.K. companies are planning for the market.
VideoAge International: What are DRG’s plans for MIPCOM?
Patrick Roberts: DRG will be bringing an extremely strong multi-genre slate to MIPCOM this year. As an independent distributor, we are able to work with the best independent producers, both distributing and co-financing a wealth of exciting new content, and MIPCOM offers a good launch pad to debut these shows to the international marketplace. Our sales team will be busy catching up with buyers from broadcasters around the world, looking at their ongoing requirements and identifying new opportunities. We will also continue to develop and build our relationships within the wider production and development community, so we can ensure we are delivering the most exciting and original content.
VAI: What are Fireworks’ plans for MIPCOM?
Saralo MacGregor: October is an important month in the broadcast calendar, a time when we are able to gain vital feedback from buyers on how various shows are performing and get a feel for any potential upturns or downturns in demand in their regions. We have a substantial slate of programming to showcase at the market, so we will be heading to MIPCOM confident that we will offer some high quality programming that our international clients will find very relevant for their viewers.
VAI: What product are you bringing to the market?
PR: Our slate will represent the very best from U.K. independent production and will include Heston’s Mission Impossible, a key Autumn launch title for the U.K.’s C4; Lip Service, a ground breaking drama series which will launch on BBC3 and The Miracle Baby of Haiti, a moving documentary from Roast Beef Productions for Channel 4. We’re also representing more U.S. titles than ever and will be launching TV Land’s brilliant new comedy series, Retired at 35; the format of CMT’s hugely successful, Your Chance to Dance and TLC’s great new food show Inedible to Incredible.
SM: We will launch one of our widest ranging slates of programming to date including the brand new crime thriller, Thorne, based on the bestselling books by Mark Billingham and featuring a star-studded cast including David Morrissey and Natascha McElhone. The newest offering from our non-fiction portfolio is Freak Encounters, an HD series that combines comedy, horror and reality as unsuspecting participants come face to face with legendary monsters. It’s a show that will have audiences laughing and screaming in equal measure!
In addition, we will showcase a wide variety of new digital properties including the critically acclaimed sci-fi fantasy series Riese which follows a reluctant heroine as she travels with her wolf through a hauntingly familiar dystopian world. Fireworks is also extremely pleased to announce the 16th annual Critics’ Choice Movie Awards which will broadcast live in the U.S. on VH1.
VAI: What do you predict attendance will be like this year, as compared to last year?
PR: As the global marketplace continues to make a slow recovery, we predict that attendance at MIPCOM will be stronger compared to last year, however, we are finding that some buyers are now only attending one market a year, which makes it even more vital for us to present a strong, attention-grabbing slate of titles.
SM: As everyone is aware, recent markets have been a bit quieter than usual. However, with the global economy showing signs of conservative improvement and MIPCOM being a typically well-attended market, we are looking forward to the “buzz” being back. With 2011 budgets just around the corner, broadcasters need to ensure that they are where the action is in order to determine how best to complement their schedules for next year and beyond. And, although many buying decisions were made at the LA Screenings or directly afterwards, there are always new and interesting programs launched at MIPCOM and gaps in programming schedules to fill.
VAI: What territories will you be focused on at this market?
PR: We will be capitalizing on growth in territories like Latin America and Russia and emerging markets in Turkey, Eastern Europe and Asia, whilst consolidating sales in mature markets such as France, Italy, Scandinavia, Benelux, Australia, New Zealand and North America.
SM: For us, it is important to focus on the big picture. With bases in London, Los Angeles and New York we are in the position of being able to build strong relationships with buyers throughout the world. Whether it’s a regional territory with a number of genre-specific channels, or a country with two or three more general national channels, all regions and audiences have a variety of specific requirements, so our focus is to continue to ensure we are delivering the best and most relevant content to all regions.
VAI: Can you make any predictions about programming trends that will be big this year?
PR: Demand and investment continues to grow for proven and trusted unscripted and drama formats. We’ve achieved significant success over the past 12 months with primetime factual entertainment formats such as the BBC’s Don’t Tell The Bride and The Real Hustle, which is now in dozens of countries, along with the ITV drama Doc Martin, which is now produced locally for TF1 and Antena3. Building on these previous format successes we’ll be announcing more local productions and tape sales for the original versions whilst also launching new formats including MTV3’s massively successful Finnish Emmy award winning Easy Living, which is a thrilling crime drama.
SM: Due to the global economic situation, there has been a marked effect on buying habits which, I believe, will see broadcasters continuing to carefully consider proven shows that offer elements such as a strong ratings history, well-known talent or established co-production partners. High quality drama and factual programming which translates well internationally will always be in demand but, at the same time, broadcasters are increasingly looking for added value in the content that they commit to, whether it is a fresh combination of genres to widen audience appeal or innovative ways for viewers to interact with their favorite shows.