MIPCOM 2019: The Big Deals

Vernon Subutex

As MIPCOM closes its doors after another frenetic market, TBI explores some of the big deals to emerge this year in Cannes.

DRAMA

With new streamers in town, scripted business was again frisk along the Croisette, with one of those new entrants, Topic, picking up rights to StudioCanal shows Vernon Subutex and Danish comedy drama Pros And Cons.

Topic, which is operated by First Look Media and launches November 21, will stream the Creation Original shows across the US and Canada. Vernon Subutex (9 x 30 minutes) was co-written and directed by Cathy Verney while Pros And Cons was originally commissioned by Viaplay and TV3 in the Nordics.

WarnerMedia chairman Bob Greenblatt was also in town to set out HBO Max’s global ambitions, calling for international acquisitions and co-productions for the forthcoming platform. He also unveiled a Grease spin-off would be coming to the platform, joining existing shows such as Ridley Scott’s Raised By Wolves and Paul Feig and Anna Kendrick’s Love Life.

Regional streamers were also in play, with both Nordic Entertainment (NENT) Group’s Viaplay and Finland’s Elisa Viihde extending their originals, Honour and All The Sins respectively. The former has sold to RTL in Germany and VRT in Belgium via Eccho Rights, while All The Sins has been sold to more than 30 countries to date through Sky Vision, which is now part of NBCUniversal Global Distribution.

Noughts and Crosses

Shows that originally debuted on US SVOD’s were also proving popular, with Star Trek: Discovery and Man With A Plan heading to E4, Channel 4’s youth-skewing network. The shows will launch in 2020 with the UK broadcaster after it struck a deal with CBS Studios International.

CEE channels operator SPI/FilmBox picked up broadcast rights to all four seasons of Narcos, the acclaimed drugs drama that was first offered by Netflix, striking a deal with producer and distributor Gaumont, which started prepping the show for second window sales last year.

The show’s first three seasons, and the fourth run titled Narcos: Mexico, will be broadcast on FilmBox channels across the Benelux, Turkey, the Middle East and on Stopklatka and Kino TV in Poland from November.

M-Net in Africa, Russia’s More TV, TVNZ in New Zealand and BBC First across Benelux all added ITV Studios Global Entertainment (ITVSGE) drama Noughts And Crosses to their schedules, while the distributor’s World On Fire, co-produced with Masterpiece in the US, has been picked up in China on Huanxi Premium.

RTL in Germany, Telefonica in Spain and BBC First across Australia and Benelux alos added the wartime series, as well as Roadshow in Australia and Korea’s Channel A for linear and KT Corp for SVOD.

Elsewhere, ITVSGE factual drama A Confession, written by Jeff Pope and starring Martin Freeman and Imelda Staunton, has been sold to Seven in Australia, BBC First in Asia, M-Net, NPO in the Netherlands, VRT Belgium, and in the Nordics on Norway’s NRK, DR in Denmark and YLE in Finland.

Other ITVSGE sales saw Mainstreet Pictures’ relationship thriller Gold Digger acquired across Benelux by BBC First, as well as by Seven and TVNZ – both of which have also picked up Wild Bill.

French broadcaster W9 picked up four-part Australian drama The Hunting from UK-based distributor DCD Rights, and A+E Networks’ Project Blue Book secured sales of its second season with Viasat World and RTL in Germany.

SBS acquired dramas including psychological thriller Dublin Murders and also became the first international broadcaster to pick up Israeli drama The Attaché. Its deal with Fremantle also saw the Australian broadcaster add crime dramas Face To Face (8 x 30 minutes) and Seizure (8 x 60 minutes) to its slate. Both series are produced by Fremantle’s Scandi drama prodco Miso Film.

Demand for Turkish drama was also evident in Cannes, with Slovakian broadcaster Markiza among those acquiring scripted content from the country, including Kizim (aka My Little Girl) from distribution outfit MADD Entertainment.

Turkey also turned buyer, with MF Yapim picking up remake rights to Japanese drama series Abandoned. The deal marked the fifth scripted format remake deal to be struck between the Turkish prodco giant and Japan’s Nippon Television Network Corporation.

FACTUAL

Seven Worlds, One Planet

BBC Studios continues to build on its natural history programming with a far-reaching pact in Australia, which will see Nine Network debuting a quintet of its landmark series.

Nine will have Australian premiere rights for five natural history offerings from the BBC Planet franchise and another project, for which details have not been announced. The shows that are included are Seven Worlds, One Planet as well as Perfect Planet, Green Planet, Frozen Planet II and Planet Earth III.

China Mobile’s video platform, Migu Video, also struck a deal with BBCS, agreeing to co-produce 10-part natural history series Animal Impossible with the Natural History Unit. The co-production agreement follows Migu’s recent commission of documentary One Cup, A Thousand Stories, which marked BBCS’s first direct commission in China.

Nat Geo Wild in the US and UK network More 4 struck pre-sales deals with Cineflix Rights for Australian wildlife documentary series Inside Taronga Zoo, which is from McAvoy Media and was originally produced for Nine Network Australia. It follows the 240 keepers and vets caring for 5,000 animals in the zoo’s Sydney harbour location and out in the field, exploring the logistics of moving large wild animals and conducting emergency surgery.

Netflix and BBCS also used MIPCOM as the occasion to unveil a new four-part science documentary series about pioneering surgeons, marking the first commission from the streamer for the UK public broadcaster’s commercial arm. The as-yet untitled 4 x 60 minute series will be produced by BBCS’s Science Unit, with each episode focusing on the story of one ground-breaking surgeon from around the world.

Broadcasters including Nine and A+E Networks in the US picked up Flicker Productions’ Prison Girls: Life Inside, from Keshet International, while BNN Vara in the Netherlands and TVNZ were among other buyers.

TVNZ has also acquired the first season of Around The World By Train, as have Aussie duo SBS and Foxtel, the latter buying second window broadcast rights for both Australia and New Zealand. BBC First has licensed both the first and the second season of the show, which is produced by Rumpus Media and Motion Content Group.

Elsewhere, Germany’s ProSieben, Foxtel and Sky in New Zealand added two seasons of Crackit Productions’ Trucking Hell to their slates, while Discovery Latin America has picked up Keshet Productions’ Speed Freaks.

Spy Wars

Broadcasters including History and Blaze in the UK and Spain’s Atresmedia were among numerous buyers to snap up A+E Networks factual series Damian Lewis: Spy Wars. The show, produced by Alaska TV in association with Lewis’ recently launched outfit Rookery Productions, features Homeland and Billions star Lewis as he uncovers the stories behind an array of covert operations.

The BBC in the UK, Arte in France and ZDF in Germany all boarded PBS International’s natural history landmark factual show The Serengeti Rules, along with MTVA in Hungary. The show was produced for Nature and also aired on PBS in the US.

UK-based distributor Orange Smarty, meanwhile, struck a deal with TI Productions, a subsidiary of publishing giant TI Media. The partnership includes a four-show deal, under which two new Stacey Dooley-fronted documentaries will be added to Orange Smarty’s catalogue. Also included in the TI Productions deal are The Great Train Robbery: The Hidden Tapes, produced for Channel 4, and Britain’s Forgotten Serial Killer, produced for Crime+Investigation, which tells the story of murderer Trevor Hardy.

Factual streamer DocuBay was also in acquisitive mood, striking multiple deals with companies including Arte Distribution in France and Scorpion TV in the UK. Titles acquired include Tattoos from Arte Distribution, which covers the rebellious history and mainstream acceptance of tattoos from artists all over the world, while Sleep In Nature has been picked up from France Television. The show explores how animals in the wild sleep in unpredictable environments.

The OTT service has also added shows from the UK’s Scorpion TV to its slate, including its doc Shelter. The series follows the on-the-ground work of a Veterans Resource Center in California that helps former soldiers who suffer from the psychological trauma of war.

Entertainment One struck a first distribution deal with Belfast and Dublin-based prodco Alleycats Films for its factual series Lost Worlds And Hidden Treasures. The 3 x 60 minute show was originally produced for BBC Four under the title Raiders of The Lost Past With Janina Ramirez and explores the discovery of three archaeological treasures in 1939.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK also swooped for Blue Ant International’s blue chip natural history doc Turtle Beach. The deal was among a slate of licensing and renewal agreements struck with NHK as well as cable and satellite network Fox Networks Group Japan, with the latter adding ocean series Blue to its schedule and renewing deals on four other series.

FORMATS

Armoza Formats made its first appearance at MIPCOM since being acquired by ITV Studios, with remake rights to its show Dance Revolution sold to Channel 1 in Russia. The primetime dance competition was originally from Québecor Content and Fair-Play, produced for Canada’s TVA.

Discovery-owned TLC Germany also acquired Armoza shows, signing on for a local adaptation of Armoza Formats’ Sex Tape. In addition to the show, the channel has also picked up finished tape of Channel 4’s version of the format, alongside Belgium’s VIJF adaptation.

Sex Tape

ITV Studios and Spain’s Atresmedia Studios struck a co-development deal for gameshow format Trust Me I’m A Six-Year-Old, with ITVS-backed Possessed working with the Spanish firm to create the format. It sees celebrities going head-to-head across four competitive rounds, where their only guidance comes from a group of rowdy kids calling the shots with their own instructions.

Endemol Shine Group was also busy, following news that sales chief Cathy Payne will be leaving in early 2020, as revealed by TBI. Deals included ESG striking a co-development arrangement for primetime entertainment format Sing Or Spin with Chinese producer-broadcaster Hunan TV, and a Finnish remake of fast-travelling musical format All Together Now.

Big Brother is also staging a comeback in Greece after 10 years away following a deal with Greek channel Skai, with the deal marking the fifth market this year to bring back the 20-year-old format – highlighting Payne’s comments to TBI that veteran formats will continue to grow in popularity.

Banijay Group, which earlier in the week backed a new prodco from Bear Grylls, struck a multi-territory deal with Guinness World Records (GWR) for its self-titled primetime family entertainment format. The year-long deal to represent GWR marks the brand’s biggest option deal to date and will span 15 markets including UK, Ireland, Eire, the US, Australia and Germany.

Renowned Films and The Story Lab’s social experiment format You Are Not A Loan was optioned in the Netherlands and Denmark, with Dutch producer Wise Monkeys and Danish indie Monday TV putting their names next to The Story Lab-distributed format. Naked Television’s dating format Secret Admirer is also headed to Denmark, with fledgling channel XEE – backed by Danish telco TDC and Fox Networks Group – commissionioning a local version.

US broadcaster ABC and All3Media used MIPCOM to unveil the companies’ latest venture, The Hustler. ABC has made an eight-episode order for the gameshow series, which is from All3-backed Studio Lambert and was created by UK radio host Richard Bacon.

It also emerged that Facebook had pulled the plug on interactive quiz show format Confetti, as revealed by TBI. The social media platform has no plans to return the format in the UK and US, and it is believed that other international versions of the programme have also been cancelled.

Other deals saw Keshet International and M-Net join forces to create new formats together, including The Big Five, while NBC format Making It secured its first international remake at MIPCOM with a pick-up from Discovery Finland. The show was originally produced by Universal Television Alternative Studio, in association with Paper Kite Productions and 3 Arts Entertainment, and is set to start its second season in the US later this year.

Red Bull Media House, the media arm of the drinks giant, was also in Cannes to unveil singer-songwriting and recording competition format The Cut. Red Bull was on the look-out for co-production and licensing opportunities, with a US and UK season already produced and available for buyers. The show follows songwriters as they create and record a new song, with a publishing deal and studio time awarded to the winning pair.

KIDS

Superhero Kindergarten

Genius Brands International struck a deal that will see Alibaba streamer Youku joining as a co-production partner on children’s animated series Stan Lee’s Superhero Kindergarten, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Genius Brands and Youku will co-produce 52 x 11 episodes of the comedy and action-adventure series, which will be available to Chinese audiences on Youku.

The show, which was created by the late Stan Lee, targets kids aged 4 to 7 and is voiced by Schwarzenegger, who also serves as executive producer. Co-creator of Deadpool, Fabian Nicieza, is scripting the series.

Nickelodeon International revealed it had commissioned new live-action comedy Goldie’s Oldies (working title), which will become available via Nickelodeon in more than 170 territories outside the US. The series marks the first original commission made exclusively for Nickelodeon International’s channels and platforms, with VIS producing the show, which marks the studio’s first move into scripted comedy and its first commission for Nickelodeon.

DeA Kids in Italy was among broadcasters to have acquired Riki Group’s animated series Dinocity, which is produced in partnership with Animax studio. DeA Kids picked up exclusive pay rights to the Russian-produced series from distributor APC Kids, while YLE Finland has secured TV rights.

Hungarian public broadcaster MTVA also added to its kids slate, acquiring exclusive free-to-air rights for more than 200 half hours of kids programming from Studio 100 Media. The deal includes shows such as Heidi, Wissper, Nils Holgersson and Miffy Adventures, as well as live-action adventure series Kosmoo.

UK-based OTT operator Video on Demand 365 (VOD365) also acquired a raft of kids IP, in a far-reaching deal with Aardman. The agreement will see Wallace & Gromit: Cracking Contraptions, Shaun The Sheep: Mossy Bottom Shorts and Learning Time With Timmy, launching on the AVoD channel in late 2019, along with Munki & Trunk from Sunrise Productions.

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