Title: Programming director, Discovery Networks CEEMEA
Nesta Owens oversees buying for Discovery Networks in what the firm describes as the ‘CEEMEA’ region – or central and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa. The former BT Vision executive is overseeing a push into local commissioning, while Discovery remains a key regional acquirer
TBI: What is unique about the Discovery channels and what should buyers know in advance?
NO: Discovery in eentral and eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa is complex. The region is very diverse and we make it a priority to cater to the needs of local audiences, so vendors will do well to do some research into the channels before pitching, as they might be surprised at the breadth of content that we show on our channel brands.
TBI: Should producers and distributors be seeking out acquisitions people at a local level or is buying handled centrally? Who are the key buyers within your team?
NO: Programme-sourcing pan-CEEMEA is handled centrally, led by me. Kerrie McEvoy handles sourcing for our factual networks Discovery Channel, Discovery Science, Animal Planet and DTX, and Liz Tang looks after our female networks TLC, ID and Fatafeat. Additionally, we have Dorota Eberhardt, based in Warsaw and reporting to me, looking after Poland, and only sourcing for some of our factual networks.
TBI: When are the key times during the year you commission or acquire series?
NO: We are on the lookout for great shows all year round, but both MIPs tend to be the tent pole events that our sourcing activities are planned around for the year.
TBI: What are the key slots for your channel and why?
NO: We have opportunities across many of our channel brands and are always looking to complement our great US shows with programmes that make our channels more locally relevant in region.
TBI: What is the relationship between the local Discovery and Discovery US programming teams? Do you work together on projects?
NO: We have a close relationship with our US Discovery family, and we speak regularly to ensure that all acquisitions we make complement rather than replicate their shows.
TBI: How has the acquisition of All3Media changed your commissioning and acquisitions approaches?
NO: Nothing has changed in terms of our approach. All3Media are at arms’ length and we consider their shows as we do all other vendors, i.e. on their own merit. Nothing has changed from my point of view; we still cast a wide net to ensure a broad range of content from as many sources as possible, All3 being among them.
TBI: What is the model for acquiring content? What appeals most in terms of content and rights availability?
NO: Our priority is getting great shows – all other considerations stem from these decisions.
TBI: What are you really looking for at the moment, is there a genre or specific type of programme you have on your shopping list?
NO: We are looking for the next big thing for all our networks!, and we are looking at European content more than ever. While we have historically looked at the UK and US markets for our content, along with other Discovery regions we are casting the net wider. For us this means also evaluating content from Germany, Russia and many other parts of our region.
TBI: Which of the programming markets do you find the most productive?
NO: The MIPs are still the biggest markets that punctuate our year.
TBI: What is the single most successful acquired show across your channels?
NO: Dynamo: Magician Impossible has been a huge hit for us over the past few years for Discovery Channel, as have trash-to-cash programmes. One Born Every Minute is also great for us on TLC.
NO: On Discovery we have Troy season two (above) launching soon, as is Storage Hunters Canada. On TLC we have An Hour to Save Your Life and Style By Jury.
TBI: What types of on-demand rights do you require?
NO: Our needs depend on our affiliates and the territory in question. Our minimum requirement is 30-day catch-up, anything over and above that is dependent on the region.
TBI: What sorts of windows are you buying for?
NO: Varies by channel and country. Ask us!
TBI: What is the key challenge facing buyers in today’s market?
NO: Our markets have become incredibly competitive and crowded over the past couple of years, meaning we work hard to maintain strong relationships with vendors and to ensure that they come to us first with their best content.