The talk at this year’s MIPCOM is likely to be all about… MIP-TV 2020. That’s because there’s little to say about MIPCOM 2019, other than that it’s going to be a good market. Some changes are expected at MIPCOM 2020, after the U.S. studios’ digital strategies are refined, but for this year, as one exec from a major U.S. studio reported to VideoAge, “it’s business as usual,” but not for Sony Television, which, according to some accounts, will have “a small presence.”

MIP-TV 2020 will likely not be the only thing on the minds of international buyers and sellers at MIPCOM. There are dark clouds hanging above next year’s L.A. Screenings as well.

Talk of MIP-TV 2020 actually started up just after last April’s MIP. It continued at May’s L.A. Screenings, persisted during the summer, and will now end with a bang at MIPCOM.

After yearly complaints from exhibitors, MIP-TV organizers finally decided to take the bull by the horns and announced that they had taken some “drastic” actions (some of which were revealed by VideoAge in its May 2019 Issue).

One aspect of MIP-TV that VideoAge didn’t anticipate is the fact that next year, the four-day trade show will actually start on March 30. The spring date is not exactly the late February date that U.S. studio execs had advocated for for years in an effort to move the event further away from May’s L.A. Screenings, but it’s a move in the right direction. In the past, MIP-TV organizers insisted on maintaining the status quo, and blamed earlier events in Cannes for forcing MIP-TV to keep its mid-April dates. Clearly, where there is a will, there is a way!

Unfortunately, the March dates will conflict with the Hong Kong International Film & TV Market (March 25-28), which could diminish the Asian presence in Cannes, assuming that the violent protests against the government subside.

But MIP-TV’s earlier start will likely benefit those who’d like to attend the NAB conference in Las Vegas, which takes place April 18-22, 2020, and which in the past conflicted with MIP-TV.

However, the two major MIP-TV changes that will get the most attention at MIPCOM are the relocation of the stands that last MIP-TV were outside the Palais, and the building of new low-cost stands.

A few lucky companies, like Fremantle and Lionsgate, were offered the chance to relocate to the Riviera area of the Palais, while less fortunate exhibitors will be moved to the so-called “bunker” (P-1, or the basement area). However, there are exhibitors who, for various reasons, would actually prefer to be located in the bunker. In any case, in order to accommodate all exhibitors, some stands’ spaces will be reduced, and MIP-TV’s organizers will arrange for the rebuilding of the booths.

The epiphany came to Reed MIDEM just after this year’s MIP-TV. On July 11, Lucy Smith, the newly appointed deputy director, TV Division, fired off a letter alerting distributors of “some strategic changes.”

This realization was many years in the making. Indeed, the idea that MIP-TV has been perennially plagued by problems is something that had been floating around since at least 1988, if not earlier.

In the July letter, Smith made three important points: First, she noted that, “the MIP-TV exhibition will be de-coupled from MIPCOM in 2020.” Second, she mentioned that a “new exhibition floor [would be created] independent of the current MIPCOM floor plan.” And third, she added that “new stands will be available…with a range of turnkey branded stands designed and executed by Reed MIDEM … and exhibitors will be offered stand locations based on the new MIP-TV floor plan. The new stands will be available in a menu of sizes, design options, and price points.”

In effect, Smith told exhibitors what VideoAge had anticipated: that reserving space for MIP-TV would no longer be necessary in order to get the more desirable space at MIPCOM. In the past, if companies didn’t “buy” a space at MIP-TV, they wouldn’t have a space at MIPCOM. In addition, all past MIP-TV exhibitors outside the Palais will be moved inside, in order to be less dispersed and create more clusters that will give a sense of a bustling market. The third element was that the new stands would be built by Reed MIDEM and will be delivered in “turnkey” condition. It has been reported that exhibitors will only pay for the spaces they rent, which will include the building of new stands (which are being offered in a few standard formats).

Another issue is the number of free badges that come with space rentals. Currently, a single badge is issued for each two square meters. But it seems that if organizers reduce spaces for some exhibitors, then the number of free badges they are entitled to won’t be cut.

It’s clear, however, that in order to accommodate larger stands in key areas (such as the two Rivieras), smaller stands in those locations will be relocated to the P-1 areas.

The brochure that Reed MIDEM is circulating among past MIP-TV exhibitors indicates that only three levels of the Palais will be housing stands:  P-1, Riviera 7 and Riviera 8. The remaining floors: P0, P1, P3, P4, P5, and Riviera 9 will be used for conferences and meetings.

Smith’s letter was followed up by a June 25 London tour by a Reed MIDEM contingent headed by Laurine Garaude, director of the Television Division. The visit was reassuring to all major U.K. exhibitors.

Subsequently, in mid-August, proposals for exhibiting at the “new” MIP-TV were sent to some U.S. studios in Hollywood, as well as a few companies in the U.K. But by mid-September, past exhibitors from other countries had not yet received any proposals.

A Reed MIDEM rep from Paris was dispatched to Italy in mid-September to provide some guidance to Italian MIP-TV 2020 exhibitors.

A rep from a Turkish company, for example, reported that the only information his company had received was that “all the stands will be decorated equally and that they will try to give us a place with a sea view and/or a terrace. But no costs were mentioned.” Similarly, no detailed information had been received by other past MIP-TV exhibitors, and one German company showed concern: “We haven’t been approached by Reed MIDEM — neither to ask for our opinion nor with an official offer. The whole situation is not very assuring, since we must plan our budget for 2020.”

For many companies the final decision on whether or not to attend MIP-TV 2020 will be made at MIPCOM even though Reed MIDEM is pressuring them to make decisions earlier. In order to attract large U.S. studios (which in turn, attract buyers), Reed MIDEM could be offering them (as one studio executive suggested) “considerable” discounts.

Other incentives are offered to exhibitors at MIP Cancun, the Reed MIDEM November market in Mexico. They also will be receiving discounts for exhibiting at MIP-TV.

What some past exhibitors and participants alike said they would also want from MIP-TV is “value for the money.” For example, paying for just one badge instead of two or three for different events within the market. However, Reed MIDEM will be offering discounted badges fee for related, but separate events (like MIPDoc), and “added benefits” to the distribution division of TV outlets that will be bringing more buyers. Other regulars, echoing VideoAge’s May 2019 article, wondered why attendees with badges have to wait for tables at lunchtime at packed restaurants like Caffé Roma, when they could have nice, inexpensive, and less-time consuming lunches in the Palais, if they were to be offered. It is understandable that, for meetings, people without badges have to find places outside the Palais.

MIPCOM 2019’s dates (October 14-17) almost match those of last year’s market (October 15-18), but this time around they will put the American Film Market (November 6-13) in Santa Monica, California at a greater distance.

This year, the Personality of the Year’s Gala Dinner will be held on a Tuesday, instead of the traditional Wednesday. This year’s honoree is Robert Greenblatt, chairman of WarnerMedia Entertainment and Direct-to-Consumer.

New at this MIPCOM is also the way participants’ e-mails are made available. For each market, Reed MIDEM puts three different lists of participants online (buyers, producers, and investors). Up until now, they always included e-mail addresses (unless participants requested that their e-mail not be made public). Now, one has to check each profile to find it, if participants have agreed to share their e-mail, that is.

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