London TV Screenings Insights: Stefanie Fischer, MD of distribution, OTF

Rising Phoenix

As buyers flock to the UK for London TV Screenings and BBC Studios Showcase this week, TBI talks 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, TBI talks to Off The Fence’s Stefanie Fischer, MD of distribution.

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

Change, broken, relentless

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

Fascinating, fragile, feverish

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

Through OTF Studios, we are able to be very adaptive to new models that allow us to be involved in the pipeline from every aspect. We still of course wholly acquire programmes but increasingly it’s through partnerships with alternative funders such as foundations and impact campaigns all the way through to co-productions and deficit financing as a distributor.

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

Stefanie Fischer

They say less is more but there is strong evidence to suggest there’s not more budget, slots or staff…

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

I expect the trend of becoming a little more flexible about exclusivities to continue and the development and facilitation of more multi partnership projects which naturally opens up more funding routes and reach.

Where does opportunity lie for you in 2024?

Our fully integrated production and distribution model has allowed us to explore some brilliant and unique new avenues such as the Rising Phoenix Universe Paralympics partnership with the Emmy winning Harder Than You Think and an as yet to be revealed fully funded feature with access to latest research on addressing chronic pain. We’ve worked very hard to be incredibly flexible when it comes to business models and adapting to each individual project and its needs.

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.

There are fewer buyers that are able to actually put their money where their mouth is, which is as frustrating for them as it is for us. When they can invest it’s often with smaller budgets whilst slots are simultaneously in decline. We also see a trend where buyers are vying for too many rights than they can pay for which leaves too much deficit to be found for the remaining rights. It’s an unworkable situation and change is clearly needed – buyers will all need to be more flexible with rights and open to collaborate – that’s a clear optimistic path.

It also evident that there is a global expansion of content consumption – audiovisual storytelling in general, funders and advertisers who want to be part of that journey. For classic tv distribution execs there has never been a more creative in facilitating the creative and commercial process for these partners to start building the foundations of a new way of making and selling content.

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

Phenomena and the Paralympics based Rising Phoenix Universe are head-to-head for me in terms of innovation, quality and sheer entertainment value. They’re both incredible, the Paralympics content will sell itself, Phenomena needs more explanation: cutting-edge science that will bring health to the next level and a must watch for society as a whole.

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