London TV Screenings Insights: Cathy Payne, CEO, Banijay Rights

Wolf Hall (Source: Banijay/Ed Miller)

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, Cathy Payne, CEO of Banijay Rights, discusses the continued demand for broad appeal content, the value of established franchises and the industry pivot to quality over quantity.

Cathy Payne

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

Challenged; Opportunistic; Consolidation.

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

Selective, proven performance, and growing importance of self-publishing.

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

Having internal production companies that focus on long-running, returning franchises provides a level of security along with a library of proven franchises that can be scaled to suit a variety of production budgets.

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

A year on, it’s safe to say that buying is more selective. The days of commissioning shows just to have volume are gone – it was never sustainable.

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

I believe there will be a continued focus on broad audience entertainment in 2024, whether this is in the form of reality, factual or scripted content.

Where does opportunity lie for you in 2024?

Expanding new revenue streams for Banijay’s burgeoning library and the successful relaunch of proven franchises.

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.

Funding scripted deficits has become very difficult so being able to produce on scale – and on more modest budgets – is the future.

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

Our acquisition of Wolf Hall: The Mirror And The Light was officially announced in November 2023 and includes the rights to the 2015 adaptation, based on Hilary Mantel’s novels Wolf Hall and Bring Up the Bodies. Naturally, we were delighted to be on board as distributor and continue our partnership with Sir Colin Callender’s Playground (who are producing fellow London TV Screenings drama, The Hardacres) and Company Pictures.

With regards to London TV Screenings 2024, this series forms part of a stellar content line-up that comprises Banijay’s burgeoning catalogue and third-party acquisitions. The quality of the cast on this show always helps cut through the global market – and it obviously helps when this drama is fronted by some of the most respected actors around.

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