SVP, International Sales, Eyeworks Distribution
VideoAge International: Tell us a little about your U.S. operation.
Dorothy Crompton: 3 Ball Productions/Eyeworks USA is our U.S. affiliate and the largest company within the international Group [Eyeworks acquired 3 Ball in 2006], and we actively produce for all of the U.S. TV networks. If we have the rights to formats and finished programs we take those and sell them around the world. We produce two shows that are very big in the U.S., The Biggest Loser and Master Chef, but we’re not the foreign distributor. Something that we’re very proud of right now is a project that came out of the U.S. group, called “Obese.” It’s something we’re producing for ABC in the U.S. The premise is that we are taking morbidly obese people and in one year they will have a life transformation and lose half their body weight. We started production earlier this year, and ABC has already ordered two seasons, the first of which will premieres in February, 2011. What’s great is that we’re taking the finished episodes and selling them all over the world. We’ve also started a local production of the show in Australia, Netherlands and Denmark, and we’re just closing one other key Western European territory. Additionally, we’ve pre-sold U.S. and Australian episodes in key territories around the world. It’s a great example of Eyeworks’ strength as a company. Our affiliates actively went out and presented the local production opportunities to countries and made it an international franchise.
Also in the U.S. just this year, we produced a series called The OCD Project. This is something that we also have the rights to for the rest of the world, so we’re working on local format opportunities. Two territories, Sweden and Finland, have picked up the terrestrial rights. We also produce third party formats and, on the distribution side, we have third party productions.
VAI: Can you illustrate the company’s recent growth?
DC: Eyeworks originated in the Netherlands in 2001, so our headquarters is there. The Netherlands business is vast. We have so much that we do there, including production of TV series, sports, factual, scripted, game shows, etc.. It’s impressive to see what we do in the Netherlands.
We also have production companies in 17 different countries and distribute Eyeworks properties all around the world. We’re continually developing productions and producing for TV networks and also producing for local territories. Outside of our 17 countries, we license the formats to TV networks and production companies all over the world, and within the territories, the distribution company licenses finished programs. Additionally, we just announced [last week] our expansion into Norway, with our acquisition of a majority stake in Norwegian production company Dinamo Story
VAI: What is the appeal of Eyeworks for the companies that have recently joined the group?
DC: They are interested in the resources we have as a company. For example, for Norway’s Dinamo Story, they now have access to our rich library of formats that they can go and produce. And when they produce and create series, there is an immediate ability to take those programs to other territories. Our production companies know their markets and their business in their regions and they move quickly. Our Australia group was right there after our U.S. group had their sale to ABC and immediately pursued it and are now producing it. So it’s a great resource in the sense that it gives greater strength. Also, Dinamo Story has been a leading producer, and what they bring to us is some great brands and productions that we can then share amongst the other companies in the group.
VAI: What are your plans for MIPCOM?
DC: We’ve moved to a substantially larger booth as a result of the company’s growth. We’re at the point where we’ve grown so much that we wanted to have one nice hub. Overall, the company is focused on programming and we’re really concentrating on those efforts.
For the distribution group, what I can say is we wish to strengthen Eyeworks’ presence in territories where we’re known and spread into territories where we’re not known. We’re going to continue to wave the Eyeworks flag around the world and work to expand our reach.