TBI Weekly: Six key takeaways from MIPCOM 2022

From private equity buying up IP to the frenzy around FAST and endless M&A rumours, MIPCOM 2022 has brought the industry together in a way not seen since 2019. Richard Middleton offers his six key takeaways.

For those who couldn’t make it, Cannes looks much the same as it did three years ago. The Croisette, the Palais, the Majestic and the kiosks flinging out €6 paninis are all still there – and the alluring azul of the ocean continues to flicker sunlight in all directions.

Under the surface though, an evolution has occurred. That small cafe tucked away from the crowds didn’t make it through the pandemic; the bar at The Grand lies dormant; and there’s now a light, airy new Producers Hub between the Palais and the Riviera, squarely focused on coproductions and networking. And there was plenty to talk about.

MIPCOM Opening Party

Streamers flex…

There has been a steady shift over the past year around streamer rights models and while some, such as Banijay’s Marco Bassetti, remain displeased by their preference for global deals, many others are pointing to a new ecosystem emerging.

We’ve already seen broadcasters such as France Télevisions sharing domestic rights with streamers – taking a window after the SVOD/AVOD/hybrid has had its first dibs – but speaking to financiers and distributors, this trend is only growing.

Netflix and others increasingly want shows that appeal firmly to the specific markets that they are commissioned in, as evidenced in Roma at MIA last week. Couple this with a tightening of the purse strings and the result seems to be flexibility in motion. About Premium Content’s Emmanuelle Gilbert, Newen Connect’s Leona Connell and Sharon Levi of Israel’s Yes Studios all spoke of this trend during a TBI moderated session exploring ‘creative deal-making’ and it underlined that in Cannes 2022, the coproduction is king.

… as private equity flows

There were almost 11,000 faces at MIPCOM 2022 and quite a few of them belonged to those working in the mysterious world of private equity.

Except, of course, private equity is beginning to be much more understood by the content business. Those on the film side have been used to dealing with PE cash for many years and while it has been moving into series, the process has been slower.

That’s changing fast. PE cash has been going into TV production companies for years, and, to a lesser extent, across slates of content that allow companies to de-risk.

But as distributors moved up the chain before them to get into projects at their most nascent stages, TBI hears the current trend is seeing PE cash being injected directly into securing source IP. Not only does that mean they are involved at the very start of a project, it also hand them a dominant position throughout the process – right through to the resultant waterfall at the end (fingers crossed).

Spanish language

Spanish trade body ICEX were out in force in Cannes and the buzz around programming from the country (which has been growing for several years) shows no sign of abating. Everybody wants to have a piece of the Spanish content pie, and Brazil behemoth Globo was no exception, with the company using MIPCOM to unveil a formal relationship with TelevisaUnivision.

The companies’ co-production and distribution deal initially covers three scripted titles – La Mujer del Diablo (aka The Devil’s Wife), Travesuras de la Niña Mala (aka Bad Girl) and Todas As Flores (aka All The Flowers) – with the first two being productions for TelevisaUnivision’s streamer, ViX+.

The first season of La Mujer del Diablo is available exclusively on ViX+ in the US and throughout Spanish-speaking Latin America, whereas Travesuras de la Niña Mala will premiere on ViX+ later this year; both series will be shown in Brazil on Globoplay.

Andreas Scrosati & Jennifer Mullin

Also as part of the deal, for outside of the Americas, both companies will coordinate distribution to the rest of the world. And there’s probably more to come – Erick Brêtas, Globo’s chief digital & pay-TV channels officer, said the move “is only a first step towards a long-term collaboration between our companies.”

Fremantle’s splash & swerve

European production and distribution giant Fremantle was among those making the most noise at MIPCOM, with Cara Delevingne in town to promote her new show Planet Sex, with Amazon and Viaplay among buyers.

With a €3bn annual revenue target to hit by 2025, the company needs to shout about its achievements and CEO Jennifer Mullin took to the stage in a rare appearance to promote its work so far. The company is on track to hit that target, she said, but rebuked the notion that the numerous prodco acquisitions have been about “buying revenue”.

She also swerved a discussion around Palais rumours that Fremantle is looking to buy ITV Studios, which parent ITV is reportedly looking at selling, but said further acquisitions – particularly in Lat Am and India – are being explored.

Recent deals include UK-based Element Pictures (Normal People) and Dancing Ledge (The Responder), Italian scripted production company Lux Vide (Devils, Leonardo), Fabel (Bosch), Australian-American firm Eureka Productions (Parental Guidance) and the 12 production labels in Norway, Sweden, Finland, and Denmark from Nordic Entertainment Group (This is Nice Group).

Cara Delevingne

But Mullin isn’t stopping there, adding that the firm “needs to scale up across all parts of our business…” Fremantle’s group COO, and Continental Europe CEO, Andrea Scrosati, added that while the company had bought widely, it had passed on “probably ten” firms for each completed acquisition.

FAST frenzy fizzes further

TBI remembers talking about AVOD and FAST five years ago down in Cannes, with mostly muted, shoulder shrug responses from execs. There were, however, advocates such as Pluto TV’s Olivier Jollett, who saw the way the content business was moving and spotted the coming wave long before it made landfall.

That landscape is now awash with companies looking to plant their flags in the sand and grab some FAST territory for themselves. Just how much money is being made right now is unclear, at least outside of North America – although in that region numerous execs told TBI that revenues are surging – but the future is clear.

Distributors with giant catalogues look likely to benefit the most, but platforms are also increasingly jostling for position – Samsung TV Plus snagging a prime beachside location for its stand.

“It’s incredible to see this momentum around FAST,” Jollet, who is now EVP & int’l GM of Pluto TV, told TBI. “It is really taking the stage as an innovative, and classic, way to watch TV.”

Scores on the doors

And so to the numbers. Lucy Smith, who was leading the event for the first time, said that 108 countries were represented this year, including 3,100 buyers, with the biggest numbers coming from the US, followed by the UK, France, Germany and Spain.

The number of individual stands came to 321, with Banijay flaunting its new construction and BBC Studios ditching its silver monolith for a location (with air con) inside the Palais. Disney had a new home too, while the other US studios – including a returning Fox – also snagged considerable square footage.

MIPTV will again be back in April with much more of a factual skew, Smith added, while also revealing total attendance for MIPCOM 2022 – as of Wednesday night – stood at 10,896.

That’s down from 2019 when it was around 13,000, but there was very little presence from China this year because of ongoing pandemic travel restrictions, while Russian companies were not invited. Factor that – and the scepticism around delegate numbers during the days of Reed Midem (now replaced by RX Media) – and it’s fair to say MIPCOM is back after some seriously testing times. And that is good news for everybody.

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