Buyers Profiles: SVT’s Mikael Österby & Canal Brasil’s Alexandre Cunha

As part of a new strand of content, TBI has partnered with online screenings portal ProgramBuyer to provide weekly snapshots detailing the programming requirements from global acquisition execs.

To kick off this first edition, we hear from Mikael Österby, who leads on factual acquisitions at Swedish pubcaster SVT, and then head to Latin America to get the latest lowdown from Alexandre Cunha, director of programming & acquisitions at Canal Brasil.

Mikael Österby

Mikael Österby,
Head of factual, SVT International

What has been your best acquisition of the past few months and what does it say about your current buying strategy?

A couple of one-off history titles have done very well and the same thing with a couple of premium true crime series. We still need to provide classic public service shows to our older core audience that expect us to stay the same, but at the same time we need to meet the new needs from the demanding online audience.

How do you differentiate the programming on your network/platform from the competition?

It gets more difficult by the day. One way is that we localise the content. We have Swedish narration, add Swedish interviews and Swedish graphics. We used to be premium, but these days everybody is aiming for the best, which makes it harder to be on top.

The big dealbreaker is the FVOD, as we see that acquired content has a very clear long-tail effect

Can you give an indication of the budgets available?

We still do the lion’s share of our acquisitions around €2,000-6,000 ($2,300-7,000) but out of the thousands of hours there are a few, although not many, that reach €50,000-plus (especially the co-pros or pre-sale projects).

What types of shows are not working?

Programmes made in a traditional way, made for linear television. Also, volume and shows that don’t feel like they are an absolute must-watch. Online, people need a stronger incentive to choose a specific programme than if they just happened to sit in front of a television set at the right time and we’re competing both with other streamers but also with other content on SVT Play.

What types of rights do you require and is there any flexibility?

Usually a three-year license, exclusive free-tv rights with unlimited FVOD rights throughout the license period as well as some form of holdback in place, depending on the project. The big dealbreaker is the FVOD, as we see that acquired content has a very clear long-tail effect.

Are you looking for pre-sale/coproduction opportunities?

Yes definitely, anything in the factual and documentary space that will be very high end/premium with the potential to work online is of interest. We have a special focus on documentary series, true crime, natural history and history. Both one-offs and series, but there can’t be too many episodes.

What’s the best way for distributors/producers to present an idea to you?

A strong treatment, preferably with a sizzle. A commissioning channel attached to the project already is a big plus as it tells us a lot about what the result will be. Filmmakers with a history of great projects attached to the project also helps.

Alexandre Cunha

Alexandre Cunha
Director of programming & acquisition, Canal Brasil

What has been your best acquisition of the past few months and what does it say about your current buying strategy?

It was last month, a package of 15 Brazilian features films. It shows our strategy to concentrate our budget towards local production.

How do you differentiate the programming on your network/platform from the competition?

We are the most qualified and unique channel devoted exclusively to Brazilian cinema.

We need pay TV and VOD rights for Brazilian territory and Portuguese-speaking countries

Can you give an indication of the budgets available?

That’s confidential.

What types of shows are not working?

We look for films, documental and series with cinematographic language. Anything out of that scope, doesn’t work at Canal Brasil.

What types of rights do you require and is there any flexibility?

We need pay TV and VOD rights for Brazilian territory and Portuguese-speaking countries.

Are you looking for pre-sale/coproduction opportunities?

Not at the moment.

What’s the best way for distributors/producers to present an idea to you?

First contact by e-mail.

Mikael Osterby and Alexandre Cunha are among the 4,500 acquisitions executives benefitting from ProgramBuyer, the online screening portal that houses more than 120,000 hours of content across all genres. Using a sophisticated search facility, it allows buyers to search and screen all types of content from more than 160 global distributors.

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