Opinion: Let’s be honest… we all wish we were Warner

European format specialist Siobhan Crawford reflects on MIPTV and looks ahead to how the event is evolving

Another MIP has drawn to a close and it is likely most people are still recovering from the jubilation of being together again (and the Covid they caught).

A lot has changed in Cannes, and at the same time not much: we were greeted by Caffe Roma and New York closing and The Grand re-opening, plus stricter measures from organisers RX Media that badges are required to enter the Majestic.

Groups now control so many local prodcos that there is not enough unique, original and accessible content in the market

Naturally, Covid has changed how we experience MIP as the majority of stands are gone, save for the opulent Warner tent (where I want to camp out… quality people, quality location) – our meetings are being held in cafes instead of inside the Palais and Plage Goelands is the place to be by day and Brown Sugar is the only place to be come night-time. Certainly we should boycott La Californie next market, manners matter folks!

I think the feel of MIPTV, its purpose and what we can expect from it has changed. If you sum up this MIPTV in one word it would be ‘weird’. We have collectively returned home from Cannes asking, ‘where the f is all the content?!’, if we sufficiently trained our bodies to cope with the MIPTV lifestyle and for a surprising many, is it time for change?

Content be gone

A friend said to me that they knew they were not coming to Cannes to find the next big hit in the catalogue of a mid-sized distributor. And it is true: Cannes is not for new sales anymore, and certainly not straight-to-license deals. We knew what was launching pre-market and deals commenced before we got to Cannes, then once in Cannes it’s catch ups, extensions, existing discussions, and upcoming news. Which is plenty for a 30-minute meeting and a ROI. But you would assume from the raft of format *options* being announced with ambiguous ‘rights granted’ language that big business was being done. Wrong. The groups now control so many local prodcos that there is not enough unique, original and accessible content in the market. The broadcasters supposedly have gaps in many genres but lack unique offerings.

An ocean between us

Siobhan Crawford

One notion that has been compounded at MIP is the difference between the markets in the suitability and adaptability of content. Content can so rarely be created and then travel to every country instantaneously. You look at France, one or two episode commissions, 90/120 minute slots, and then Spain, even longer primetime. The UK demands endless access prime trivia formats, the Nordics request to have celebrities in as many shows as possible. Universal fit, plug and play formats no longer exist. This means our catalogues are not meeting the needs of the clients because our pitches will never be tailored enough, and options are getting longer and longer. Which, by extension, is why groups have so many local prodcos and why groups like ProSiebenSat1 see resources better spent internally developing content than having to acquire third-party and do the same level of development.

Headlines, headlines, headlines

We can talk about the MIP headlines as, honestly, who reads them during the market? Something Special continues to partner with more companies. Banijay are bringing three new formats to the table that the majority of the market cannot acquire and will be direct to broadcaster pitches anyway. WarnerMedia Banijay North America made a content pact to focus on content diversity, whereas really they could just take the European format market more seriously and content would be at their fingertips.

And just about everyone is making a push into scripted.

So, in summary, whilst the market was a much needed reward for our hard Zooming, it is changing.

Can MIPTV survive with the 45% attendance? Let’s be frank: for me, it is far more inclusive than the London Screenings, where you mostly have to be invited to the good stuff; it is so much more international than Edinburgh; and it’s cheaper than Content London. And we are in the sunshine of the Côte d’Azur. So, I say long live MIPTV (with *quality* content).

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