Footfall was high but spirits were low at a busy MIPCOM that came at an uncertain juncture for some businesses and where talk turned largely to April’s reimagined MIPTV.
Renovation work along the beach and a boarded-up Croisette robbed most delegates of any seaside respite, with the market feeling somewhat claustrophobic despite robust activity – perhaps fitting given the current industry climate.
As one exec put it to TBI, “A lot of people are here with questions rather than answers this year,” and that seems to hold up.
Disney made its mark in Cannes despite a volatile future for a number of staff, while Sky Vision’s Riviera 7 spot was taken over by TF1 Media, just weeks after the Patrick Melrose distributor closed shop for good. Questions also hang over the future for Twofour Rights and Armoza Formats’ distribution arm, given the recent restructure of ITV Studios Global Distribution.
With most major deals and restructuring done and dusted well ahead of Cannes, the market didn’t deliver the breakout format or M&A news one might expect. Perhaps the one curveball no one saw coming was French commercial broadcaster M6’s ransomware hack on Saturday (12 October), with some execs at the market still without access to emails by Monday.
Most talk, it seemed, was focused on what might transpire six months down the road at MIPTV, which has promised a reimagined market and is now in negotiations with a number of distributors about attendance, having already signed up All3Media, Beyond, Discovery, Studiocanal and Warner Bros. as well as Avalon Distribution, Cineflix, Off The Fence and Korea’s KBS and MBC.
While exhibitors such as All3Media have responded favourably, calling the makeover “encouraging” and praising its cost-effectiveness, others are still getting their heads around the April event. With the exception of BBC Studios and Endemol Shine Group, most distributors tell TBI they hope to have some presence, but will send smaller teams and, in turn, require less square footage. Concerns persist, as well, about positioning across the three floors, as well as the perceived rigidity of the standardised booths.
At a press conference on Wednesday (16 October), Reed Midem’s New York-based SVP of sales and business development Robert Marking provided a tour of the four different turnkey stand options available (stand descriptions below), highlighting similarities to the WeWork model.
Exhibitors are able to pay a single fee for the exhibit, decoration, onsite services and MIPTV badges, and then liaise with builders GL Events on their stand, with add-ons available for a price.
“The reason we’ve moved in this direction is we believe MIPTV should be a new experience and we think WeWork really led the way in this turnkey economy where, more and more, companies are used to [saying], ‘Give me a price, let me choose from different options and have it ready for when I show up,'” he said.
Marking called MIPCOM the “flagship design show” while MIPTV is intended be an entirely new environment.
Meanwhile, Reed Midem’s director of TV Laurine Garaude stressed that relaunching MIPTV is a “long-term strategy” and will take several years to fully find its feet.
Drawing buyers to the event is also a top priority, according to Lucy Smith, deputy director of TV, who is leading the charge on the market’s transformation. “We’re working closely with our exhibitors by making sure we’re bringing the key buyers they need,” she said, adding that around “230-plus top-liners” are already committed to MIPTV 2020.
Other changes for 2020 include a “streamlining” of the schedule to include less conference events such as panels and keynotes, and more market intelligence and ‘In Development’ activity that connects producers to distributors and commissioners.
Indeed, some delegates hope that buyers will be more accessible at the next market. A number of producers and distributors told TBI that they were not able to access contact information online for key buyers as they had done previously, which had a major impact on their ability to set up meetings ahead of Cannes, particularly for fledgling businesses.
But for many, it all comes down to pricing.
TBI understands that while MIPTV will be largely cheaper to attend for distributors – with some studios paying roughly a third of what they would normally have paid to attend – there are a few cases where exhibitors may need to pay about the same or slightly more to attend and maintain their place in the Palais.
Also causing some anguish is that all country pavilions, which are normally spread across -1 and R7, will be concentrated in -1 alongside Creative Media Europe and other exhibitors. For some of these country delegations, there is no change in price, TBI understands.
Smith tells TBI that “pricing is [according to] different packages because we’re providing the decoration. We’re doing our utmost to allow people to remain in halls.
“If we can keep them in the same hall, they will be,” she says.