Banijay CEO & chairman talk up acquisitions & avoiding US producer-for-hire model

RFDS, Royal Flying Doctor Service

Banijay remains on the acquisition hunt for production companies as it seeks to further scale up in size, as the battle for rights intensifies.

The French group’s CEO Marco Bassetti and chairman Stephane Courbit, who were both speaking today at SeriesMania in Lille, France, admitted that the company remained on the look-out for additional companies to add to its 120+ labels that stretch across 22 countries.

Bassetti said the company would “continue with consolidation” and add to its stable, which was most recently expanded by the acquisition of DMLS TV, the French producer behind TF1 show Duos Mystères (Mystery Duets).

That followed Banijay’s deal for Netherlands-based sports prodco Southfields in July and Bassetti said he wanted to remain “a consolidator, definitely” with a focus on its current footprint.

“Geographically, we want to stay where we are in those 22 countries but there are so many new players now and not only global but local too. They all need new content and it’s what we’ve seen since the beginning – the principal is to know the code, to know what they all need.”

Marco Bassetti

Courbit added that Banijay’s acquisitions strategy would focus not on simply creating a bigger company, rather to acquire companies that would complement each other.

Rights fight

The Banijay chairman did, however, admit that size was becoming increasingly important in the global landscape because it provided a steady supply of new IP to the group and allowed the company to defend its rights more forcefully.

“The IP must stay in the company where it was created, that is the key,” Courbit said, reflecting the increasing battle between producers and particularly global streamers demanding all rights deals.

Banijay has been expanding its drama output of late with series such as RFDS, Royal Flying Doctor Service, which is among 21 shows picked for Series Mania’s Forum Exclusives strand, and Bassetti said that his company’s scripted revenues now account for around 25% of the companies €3.5bn revenues.

Unscripted remains the key driver, however, and Bassetti said the company’s size was key in allowing it to fight back on rights demands.

“You need leverage in front of commissioners in order to retain your IP. We want to stay in the European model, we don’t want to be a producer for hire because if we did that – a bit like with the US model – all this creativity across Europe will die.

“It’s not just for us because we are big and we can defend ourselves, but for smaller producer they cannot defend themselves.”

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