London TV Screenings Insights: Ruth Berry, MD, ITV Studios Global Partnerships

Austin (Source: ITV Studios)

Ahead of buyers landing in the UK for London TV Screenings and BBC Studios Showcase next week, TBI has talked to the bosses of more than 25 distribution companies to test the temperature of the global content industry and to find out how the next 12 months are shaping up.

Here, Ruth Berry, MD of ITV Studios Global Partnerships, discusses the needs for new funding models, changing views on exclusivity, and opportunities in both format growth and tape sales.

Ruth Berry

What three words would you use to describe the state of the TV/streaming industry as a whole right now?

Transitioning, tumultuous, exciting

What three words would you use to describe the state of the distribution sector right now?

Solid, resilient, evolving

With fewer shows being commissioned, how are you securing your pipeline?

We work at securing content internationally and across third parties as well as in-house, so we’re securing content from many places. For example, take the utterly charming comedy-drama Austin (produced by Northern Pictures for ABC) starring two of the UK’s most-loved performers, Ben Miller and Sally Phillips. In this heart-warming story, we find out if the estranged neurodivergent son of a disgraced children’s author can be his route back from cancellation. (I’ll give you a clue: he’s in for a rude awakening!)

Or, there’s the psychological crime drama starring Rossif Sutherland and Kristin Kreuk, Murder In A Small Town (produced by Future Shack Entertainment and Sepia Films for Fox) which we are launching at our drama festival. Not to mention, we have a really broad and deep library that we keep growing.

What is the single biggest difference in the discussions you’re having with buyers today compared with 12 months ago?

Exclusivity is less important to many buyers.

How do you expect global streamer demands for rights to change in 2024 compared with 2023?

I think they will buy more locally and regionally and window within home markets.

Where does opportunity lie for you in 2024?

Tape sales, great new international drama, growing formats, growing FAST and AVOD. We now have over 130 owned and operated social channels, and more to come, in addition to the continued strength of a broad and deep catalogue.

Tell us in no more than two sentences about the biggest problem facing the distribution industry and what needs to change so it can be overcome.

Rising costs of deficits in nearly all genres now are creating challenges and unprecedented risk in traditional funding models for TV. We all need to be more open-minded towards new funding models and partnerships to share the risk and keep our great industry buoyant.

Tell us about your top show at London Screenings & why we should buy it

There are too many to choose from, but I would say Austin – it’s feelgood, heartwarming, and throws a brilliant lens onto neurodiversity in a way we haven’t seen before.

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