TBI’s forward thinkers: Banijay’s Tim Mutimer; Kew’s Jonathan Ford; NATPE’s JP Bommel; Cottonwood’s David Michel

Mutimer, Ford, Bommel and Michel

Tim Mutimer, CEO, Banijay Rights

What will the single biggest challenge be for distribution over the next 12 months?
As more global OTT services launch, IP retention will continue to be a challenge. Of course, media companies with global footprints like Discovery and Nat Geo have been testing this model for years in the linear space and distributors have thrived and found ways to work with these outfits alongside local clients. Inevitably, business models will adapt and evolve and there will be new opportunities to offset any issues along the way.

Scale seems to be the name of the game at the moment – what will this mean for small- and medium-sized distributors in 2020?
As consolidation continues across the market, distributors of scale will be well-placed to source premium programming and have the leverage to craft strong deals with powerful clients. However, there will still be space for smaller and specialised distributors to cut through the crowds with original offerings. With varying budgets, creative and regional needs, the key to success will be strong talent and a sizeable catalogue to cater to the demand from buyers.

What genre do you think will enjoy the most growth in the coming year?
As the price and supply of scripted content soars, entertainment programming that encourages live viewing and offers audience feel-good moments will be in high demand, particularly with linear broadcasters. Formats such as Survivor and Don’t Forget The Lyrics remain staples in broadcaster schedules for this reason. We’ve also seen huge interest in our new gameshow format, Don’t, which is a physical comedy game show for the whole family.

What do you make of shortform as a business prospect?
Audiences are increasingly devouring short-form content and with strong brands, the commercial model will evolve and in time, these titles will likely be an important part of the business. While for now, it’s a difficult and niche market for distributors, in time it is sure to become more commonplace.

Which show outside of Banijay’s catalogue do you wish you’d had and why?
I’m a big fan of Succession, so I’d love to get early access to the next series. Luckily for me Banijay is built around entrepreneurship and creativity so I can enjoy the show without it hitting too close to home!

Jonathan Ford, EVP of sales, Kew Media Distribution

Have streamers been a positive or negative for the distribution business over the past 12 months?
As new streamers and brands enter the market, it is having a positive effect, balanced against the fact that the longer standing [streamers] are moving more to commissioning originals rather than acquiring finished product.

How do you predict the commissioning behaviour of streamers and broadcasters will change over the next 12 months?
There will be increased focus on originals and co-productions to provide real value to the viewer. For a distributor, the role will also involve being a broker of pre-sales and co-productions, which means a company such as Kew – that also owns production companies and therefore IP – is well placed.

Which do you expect to grow faster over the next 12 months: scripted or unscripted? And how are you planning to capitalise on this?
I think both will continue to grow well. The streamers have a renewed interest in factual and unscripted that may lead to some additional growth but we see both as buoyant markets. Kew Media Distribution operates evenly across both areas.

Which show not in your catalogue did you watch and wish you’d had?
Chernobyl on scripted. Three Identical Strangers in docs.

JP Bommel, President and CEO, NATPE 

The events calendar for TV has proliferated over recent years, what does this say about the evolution of the content business?
NATPE is at the epicenter of content and reaches across the entire spectrum of the industry as it evolves from a creation prospective (more local content is being created) and from a distribution point of view as the model shifts to streaming. This is why NATPE now produces year-round events, all leading to our flagship event in Miami. For example, LA Screenings Independents focuses on international independent distributors and buyers. NATPE Budapest has grown into a marketplace for Central and Eastern Europe, the Middle East and North Africa. And lastly and not the least, our NATPE Streaming Plus event takes a deep dive into the new streaming business models on a global basis from the prospective of all the streamers large and small.

How do you foresee the events side of the content business adapting to a world increasingly dominated by streamers?
NATPE was the first on the market with a sold-out event for the streamers in LA last July. The reason for its success is because, as the largest global content association, NATPE brings together a new community of online creators, brands and the leadership at the Studios. Together they convened to discuss trends, business models and the future of content. It’s the modern age of global content syndication so familiar to NATPE.

Development of projects across scripted and unscripted is happening ever earlier, how is this affecting the events business?
There is a sense of urgency to address the demand for content on a global basis and this is why it is important to have more events in different locations around the globe to discover and distribute new content.

How is the market for finished tape sales changing and what does this mean for event organisers?
Global linear distribution is still the main source of revenue for the sellers and, even if NATPE goes beyond linear, we very much recognise and promote traditional distribution at our events as they generate huge revenues in licensing rights.

David Michel, President, Cottonwood Media

Last year marked another year of decline for most kids-focused linear networks as viewers shift to streamers; what is 2020 going to bring?
From a producer’s perspective, the key stakes in 2020 and beyond will be discoverability. As the linear networks keep declining and move their offerings to digital with an infinite amount of shelf space, the key focus will be on finding ways to create content that extends its reach to the same volume of viewers we used to experience on editorialized cable channels.

What genre of kids TV do you expect to see most growth in 2020?
It looks like non scripted and formats are on an upwards trend. With the launch of the new platforms, non-scripted is a way to bring new programming to an audience much faster than scripted.

Producing kids content can be financially challenging, what needs to change this year to make this part of the business more viable?
It’s quite simple really. The same show costs about 5-10 % more to produce than it did let’s say five years ago, which is the result of numerous factors such as inflation, increased wages and so forth. Meanwhile the license fees from a traditional perspective have remained static and in some instances even receded. This is quite a significant issue effecting all producers, so it is important that our industry clients become aware and take this into account.

How do you see short-form impacting kids TV over the next year?
It has already impacted kids TV heavily through the likes of YouTube. Going forward, it looks like new players such as Quibi are set to inject more production value into short-form, which is excellent news.

How will distribution of kids TV change in 2020 and how will you adapt to these changes?
With the ever-increasing volume of content and platforms, our challenge will be to continue to ensure our shows stand out. The key will be to produce shows that are truly unique and develop strong cutting-edge marketing strategies that target and engage our audience.   The job of a producer is also slowly transitioning from the B2B traditional business model (sale to the network or platform),  to a B2B and B2C type business (sale to the platform/network, and marketing the content to our audiences), and this is something we are fully embracing as it is also stimulating creativity on many levels.

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