Distributors warn MIPTV changes could be “universally detrimental” to market

MIPTV’s new floorplan, confirmed by Reed Midem today, has prompted outrage from international distributors who worry the changes could be “universally detrimental” to small and mid-sized outfits. 

While the businesses have been aware of potential plans to concentrate the market within the Grand Palais since April, MIP organiser Reed Midem’s decision to go forward with the strategy has rankled a range of distributors concerned about their profile at the market, and how they will conduct business in Cannes going forward.

Richard Halliwell, CEO of DRG, tells TBI: “Speaking as a distributor that has been there, fair weather or foul, over the last 12 to 15 years, if the implication of this development is that that loyalty isn’t even acknowledged and we are told our best option is the bottom left-hand corner of the bunker, then we would need to carefully consider whether or not we continue to attend.”

Another senior exec at a business currently located outside the Palais commends Reed Midem for making changes, but cautions that a new floorplan – for which prices have yet to be shared with exhibitors – could backfire on the organisation.

“My problem is that we have a nice bespoke stand that we spent a lot of money building and designing and all of a sudden we’re told, ‘Hang on, you can’t have that stand anymore, you have to buy or design a new one that will be less individual.’ For a bigger distributor used to having space they design and control, that’s a difficult one to get across.”

While the exec allows that a cost-effective price could sweeten the deal, there are “a lot of doubts at the moment”.

“In all honesty, my preference would be not to go, because there are other markets around, and I don’t believe I’ll get the profile I need there.”

Paul Heaney, founder of TCB Media Rights, says the strategy “feels cynical, inconsistent and lacks clarity” and warns that MIPTV, which is largely focused on non-fiction offerings, could end up alienating distributors specialising in these areas.

“The Croisette is lined with scripted shows, but MIPTV pockets are lined with unscripted revenue,” he tells TBI. “MIP Doc is still a very valuable and understated market. It’s important for us and other big distributors and Reed Midem has to be careful they’re not endangering that.”

The exec adds that organisers must be wary of how it treats companies “that aren’t on the outside and haven’t spent tons [of money] on actual floor space. They need to look at the proportion of their income they’re spending on MIPTV.”

TBI understands that UK-based distributors may be banding together to form a coalition that can collectively bargain with Reed Midem, hearkening back to the days of the British TV Distributors Association, which was disbanded in 2004 and ultimately folded into UK trade association Pact.

However, one group that could stand to benefit from a more level playing field at MIPTV are boutique distributors.

Outfits such as documentary specialist Limonero Films attends MIPTV as part of Creative Europe Media’s umbrella stand on Palais 4, which includes a number of boutique outfits. Pamela Martinez Martinez, founder of Limonero Films notes that a centralisation of market activity could improve their visibility.

“I don’t always get to see half the companies attending. Also, if they concentrate the market, it will be much easier to do outreach. We will see more people and we’ll be seen as well – it will be a positive thing for us,” says Martinez Martinez.

However, the exec adds that this is still contingent on larger businesses attending.

“It’s down to whether the big companies withdraw completely, in which case no one wins,” she says.

Similarly, Karen Young, founder of factual boutique distributor Orange Smarty, highlights that the sustainability of MIPTV will ultimately come down to the buyers in attendance.

“[Reed Midem] can move stands all they like, but what they need to do is create an incentive for buyers to be there. I’d rather not have those prices reduced for us but rather the buyers. If they’re not there, what’s the point for us to be there?”