As usual, the major U.S. studios will be staging L.A. Screenings encores at MIPCOM, following their 10-day run in Los Angeles last May and their recently concluded on-the-road international screening tours.
Fortunately for buyers, the encores will be held inside temperate MIPCOM stands, instead of impressive but freezing Hollywood studio theaters.
For the major U.S. studios, MIPCOM represents a year-end hurrah before gearing up for their midseason and back-up series to be shown at NATPE Miami in January.
For the studios, MIPCOM will also offer an opportunity to analyze how content can continue to retain value on multiple platforms. A top-level executive explained: “The studios will always produce good content, the question is how we can preserve its value across platforms in an increasingly converging media environment.”
In practical terms, this “value preservation” can be achieved by studios requiring buyers to accept “elasticity in pricing related to windowing,” meaning that current windows have to be shortened and in certain cases license fees increased  so that previous windows would not be penalized. For example, shortening the transactional VoD window and inducing the following premium window to increase its cost to consumers, both windows wouldn’t lose their strategic advantages and the studios would preserve its value across multiple platforms.
This analytical aspect of content sales cannot be done at the L.A. Screenings due to the frenetic schedule there.
The major U.S. studios will be arriving in Cannes loaded with 76 new series for the upcoming season, plus 20 shows that premiered during the summer.
The majors invested an estimated total of $5 million at the L.A. Screenings last May to cater to some 1,700 buyers. At MIPCOM in October, their cumulative investment is expected to double to $10 million for the availability of 4,400 buyers. The difference is that in L.A. the studios have buyers’ undivided attention, while in Cannes they will be competing with over 2,000 exhibiting companies from all over the world.
In addition, in L.A. it is more convenient for the studios to show off the actors and show-runners of their new series in front of star- struck buyers, something that is a logistical  challenge in Cannes.
With 26 new series shown across various theaters on its Hollywood lot, NBCUniversal has followed Sony Pictures’ example this year, and gave buyers blankets to keep warm during the long hours in the cold screening rooms.
Other studios with a large number of new series were Twentieth Century Fox with 15, and Disney with 12.
In terms of new product at the Screenings, cable saved the day for the studios. U.S. TV broadcasters ordered fewer new series compared to last year: 48 this year versus 58 last year. However, cable and digital orders added 28 shows to the studios’ international catalogs. Of the 76 new series screened in L.A., six were made for digital outlets and another six were commissioned by foreign TV networks, such as BBC, ABC Australia and Sky U.K.
As far as the traditional mega parties were concerned, the opening salvo came care of  Disney Media Distribution, while the honors for the closing “ceremony” were handled by Twentieth Century Fox TV Distribution. Both parties were held at their respective lots.
In between studio lot parties, Lionsgate hosted a major recreational event for 550 guests at the House of Blues, and CBS Studios International offered a reception on the Paramount lot to mark the retirement of Joe Lucas after 43 years with the group.
At their parties, both Disney and Fox provided opportunities to meet with talent from their new series. Disney, as usual, provided a gazebo for the casts of each new and returning series, who were ready to take pictures with the guests. Other studios paraded their stars around during lunch breaks, and some even attended private dinners offered to a restricted number of buyers at studio executives’ homes.
In terms of content, the new U.S. TV series can be summarized as a triple-S season: superheroes, supernatural, and superstars.
This year, among the superheroes, buyers will get Supergirl, Lucifer and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow (all from Warner Bros).
On the supernatural side, there are shows such as Damien (from Fox), The Frankenstein Code (Fox), Angel from Hell (CBS), Of Kings and Prophets (Disney), Stitchers (Disney), Childhood’s End (NBCUni), Heroes Reborn (NBCUni), and so on.
Among the superstars are Paul Giamatti (Billions, CBS), Jane Lynch (Angel from Hell, CBS), Don Johnson (Oil, Disney), John Stamos (Grandfathered, Disney), Rob Lowe (The Grinder, from Fox and You, Me And The End of The World, from NBCUni), Jamie Lee Curtis (Scream Queens, Fox), Jennifer Lopez (Shades of Blue, NBCUni), Wesley Snipes (ThePlayer, Sony Pictures) and…Kermit The Frog (The Muppets, Disney).
The recent L.A. Screenings demonstrated the traditional U.S. TV sector’s willingness to fight against the loss of viewers from its linear platforms. The U.S. TV industry’s fight will also ensure that TV networks around the world  benefit as well.
This two-pronged strategy calls for defensive moves, such as HBO increasing their online offerings, and offensive maneuvers, like boosting their quality programming. And the public is responding well, as demonstrated by the strong TV award shows’ viewing numbers.
The 66th Primetime Emmy Awards, for example, bagged an average of 15.6 million viewers, the second-biggest overall crowd for the franchise in eight years.  No easy feat, considering that the CBS Emmycast had to compete against the highly-rated NBC Sunday Night Football (Chicago/Pittsburgh), which averaged 20.5 million viewers.
The most recent Golden Globes on NBC averaged 19.3 million viewers overall. The Globes were the top-rated primetime entertainment series in the 18-49 demographic and total viewers on any network since ABC’s telecast of the Academy Awards last March (43.6 million viewers overall).
During its 65-year history, television has faced many challenges, but always adapted and transformed itself. Plus, it has been pointed out that TV viewers are not  abandoning television. Indeed, more people are watching television than ever before, albeit in different ways (the living room is out of favor) and via different transports (streaming, for example).
Not lost to analysts is the observation made by VideoAge in its January 2014 Issue that HBO (a business similar in size to Netflix) made $4 billion in profit (mostly because of the efficiencies of the traditional TV business), while Netflix’s streaming platform made only $50 million.
However, the Netflix phenomenon has had a positive effect on U.S. studios and independent distributors because other OTT companies — and especially Telcos — boosted their program offerings with multiple library acquisitions in order to better compete.
Next year, the L.A. Screenings will take place earlier. Twentieth Century Fox has already announced that their LATAM 2016 L.A. Screenings will start one day earlier than usual, on Thursday, May 19. In this case, the indies will have to move their start date one day earlier as well, starting on Monday, May 16.
This year, the indies opened their suites at the Century Plaza Hotel on a Tuesday, which fell on May 12. And even then, most LATAM buyers did not show up until the next day.
Additionally, Upfronts in New York City (which in recent years have started the second week of May), will begin later than usual on Monday, May 16 and end on Thursday, May 19.
What is still unclear is whether the major U.S. studios will each push their LATAM Screenings one day earlier, or if they’ll keep their traditional days and leave a gap on Friday, May 20, which could most likely be filled by Lionsgate and Paramount.
If, on the other hand, the major studios push their screenings one day earlier, it is possible that Lionsgate and Paramount will move their LATAM screenings up to Wednesday, May 18, leaving barely two full days to the indies.
As for the General Studio Screenings, they will start on Monday, May 23 and end on Friday, May 27, before the Memorial Day holiday weekend. Considering the increasing number of buyers who arrive earlier and earlier (and the Canadians who are always the first in town), it is possible that the General Screenings will also start before that Monday.
To summarize next year’s anticipated dates, they are: Indies: May 16-18; LATAM Screenings: May 19-25; General Screenings: May 22-27.
The 2016 U.S. (Anglo) Broadcast Week Upfront Calendar:
May 16: NBC (Morning)
May 16: FOX (Afternoon)
May 17: ABC (Afternoon)
May 18: CBS (Afternoon)
May 19: The CW (Morning)

Please follow and like us: