eOne, Keshet Int’l & Beta talk crime & procedural demand from buyers seeking ‘safe’ options

LR: Anke Stoll, Christian Gockel, Noel Hedges

The squeeze on spending is pushing buyers to commission “safer” scripted series with crime and procedurals trending, according to distribution execs here at Conecta Fiction in Toledo.

Keshet International (KI)’s Anke Stoll, Entertainment One’s Noel Hedges and Beta Film’s Christian Gockel were in town to outline their nuanced approaches to distribution, with the current streamer spending contraction being seen as a potential opportunity to get more involved with programming that might otherwise have found global deals.

Stoll, KI’s SVP of acquisitions & co-productions, said buyers are “playing it safe” at present and turning to tried and trusted genres, with crime increasingly being seen as “that safest option”.

The Keshet exec added that she is looking to get onboard projects early where possible but urged producers to retain their passion projects, highlighting Aussie comedy Colin From Accounts as a show that broke through despite being seemingly unlikely to travel.

“None of us would have come onboard that early,” she admitted, “because getting on a comedy early is really risky. We all have to have an open mind about it.”

Lighter fare

Hedges, eOne’s EVP of acquisitions, added that his company’s distribution arm looks to board projects that are “relatively developed” and said one key aspect is exploring “how many doors we can bang on when we pitch,” which makes crime more of a go-to option than sci-fi.

“There is a swing towards lighter and more episodic television, different ways of doing a procedural and weekly structures,” he continued. “Light crime can be quite high concept without pushing it into sci-fi, something like Poker Face for example, which is really brilliantly structured as a crime show but also has a brilliant conceit. Entertaining crime is working, rather than deep moody crime.”

Poker Face

Stoll agreed, adding that procedurals are “back in fashion” in the UK despite the territory being “somewhere that is not normally keen on them” while Beta’s Gockel, co-CEO of Beta Entertainment Spain & Beta Fiction Spain, said such shows also provided buyers with returnability.

“A good crime show or procedural allows people to keep coming back for more, but the more niche shows mean people tend to only watch them once.”

Despite the soft market and industry rumours of more M&A, particularly between global streamers, Stoll, Hedges and Gockel said the market continued to offer opportunities.

“I’m not that worried,” said Stoll, whose upcoming line-up includes Netflix and VRT crime series Diamonds. “There will always be room for good stories as long as you can finance them and have the contacts, and then even a small company like us can play a role.”

Hedges added: “We are obviously going through a bit of a slow market in TV and with the ad market, but it’s still a market that wants shows on air. And if you are the gate keepers of that then there are lots of opportunities.

“There is a scaling back at the top end of market but that is also a great chance for distributors to help producers. Downturns can often be a good time for international distributors when people run to find shows that are ready. If we can help to do that and pull them forward a bit, then there will be more opportunity.”

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