2013 LA Screenings Buyer Profile: Stephen Mowbray, SVT

SVT airs several big US shows and recently bought The Bible and Bates Motel. Stephen Mowbray is the Swedish public broadcaster’s head of programme acquisitions and a regular attendee at the LA Screenings. He tells TBI about his expectations ahead of the Screenings and how US content fares on SVT.


How much preparation do you ahead of heading out to LA?

On the one hand you want to be secure and not to waste time, but you also want the best product and need to see the new shows. You can do so much research and then be amazed or disappointed by the pilot. Until you are there you can’t absolutely tell what you are after.

What are the key trends you are observing in US TV?

Instead of long, 23-episode runs there has been a clear shift to more contained, shorter runs for cable series and shows like Homeland and The Americans have changed what the public is prepared to commit to in terms of a TV series.

Even the networks will be going for shorter runs and if that’s not a trend yet it will be going forward – more of the mid-season model, rather than having a show that runs for six months.

Where does acquired US content goes on SVT?

We have good slots, 10pm on Monday is one, which is where we have Homeland (below).


You had a programming deal with HBO, but now HBO has its own service in the Scandi region have you lost a lot of that content?

We have life of series on the HBO shows and have Girls, Game of Thrones, True Blood and The Newsroom. If we want any of their new series we have to give a nine-month holdback.

What long term deals do you have with the Studios?

We share a [volume] deal with Viasat for NBC and have recently taken Bates Motel.

If you see a US show you how quickly does the deal get done?

It depends on how special it is. We bought Nurse Jackie when we were in LA and we bought Homeland based just on the pilot, the public broadcasters in the region joined forces and bought it. We’d like to do more of that but it is hard to synchronise everyone’s needs.

How does 2013 compare with previous year’s?

There’s never been so much good content out there. We want the next Homeland, the next big thing. We’d also really like something like Without a Trace, [as] we haven’t had a bankable US crime series for a while.

Last year wasn’t vintage and we hope this year is better.



Sarah Wright, controller of acquisitions, BSkyB

Özlem Özsümbül, Kanal D

Catherine Mackin, director of programme acquisitions, UKTV

Douglas Davis, director, content acquisitions and sales, Blinkbox

Sena Argun, executive VP, SinemaTV


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