Buyer’s Profiles: CME Group’s Igor Draguzet, Peter Chalupa, Iulia Plesi & Marko Došlić

LR: Marko Došlić; Iulia Plesi; Peter Chalupa; Igor Draguzet (Source: CME)

As part of a new partnership with NEM Dubrovnik, this latest installment to TBI’s Buyers Profile series hears from key execs acquiring and commissioning shows for Central and Eastern European giant CME Group.

Chief content officer Igor Draguzet discusses what shows are performing best, his preference for country-by-country rights deals and how his company is competing with streamers entering his markets.

There are then deep-dives into the content strategies of Peter Chalupa (director of acquisitions for Markiza, Nova, ProPlus and RTL), Iulia Plesi (head of acquisitions at Pro TV) and Marko Došlić (head of content strategy & operations of CME Adria).

Igor Draguzet (Source: CME)

Igor Draguzet, chief content officer, CME Group

Tell us about your current content strategy & the types of shows working well across the CME group.

The proven way of being the top destination in our region is to offer the best content on all linear and digital platforms, focusing primarily on the most popular and premium local content in each of our CME markets.

The content we offer needs to be relevant to our audiences, speak to them, reflect their experience, and capture their imagination. Compelling premium scripted drama, unexpected true stories and character-driven unscripted content are at the top of our list of best performers.

Do you acquire shows on a group level and, if so, what types of rights do you need? How flexible can you be?

As a rule, we acquire content on the level of individual markets. With the exception of some live sports, our audience needs and demands somewhat differ between markets and distribution channels.

For different windows, we aim to secure rights that allow our audiences to easily discover and enjoy the content in the way that’s easiest for them, while at the same time allowing us to be effective with our investment. It’s essential to keep pace with rapid technological advances in how content is served and it’s our job to secure the rights to make this happen.

Why did you choose NEM Dubrovnik for your group’s go-to market?

We see NEM Dubrovnik as one of the key events in the region. It’s an important forum that brings together key elements of the entertainment industry value chain.

NEM Dubrovnik

Whether it’s about closing deals, or discovering opportunities for discussing new ones, learning about new trends and ideas or just exchanging thoughts with people who help shape the entertainment business of tomorrow, NEM is a market that helps us further develop our business.

How are global and regional streamers affecting your business & how are you competing?

The presence of global streamers in our markets have had an enormously positive impact on the way we do business. It motivates us to work even better with our local creative industry and further upgrade high-quality and high-volume local productions, as well as develop new distribution channels and services to better serve our audiences.

In terms of content, I believe global streamers provide a complementary product to ours, one built around great international content, while we at CME continue to increase the number and quality of local titles we offer in native languages of our markets.

Our content strategy feeds the goal to be the number one local SVOD provider in our markets, and it’s clear from our performance and results that it’s working so it’s a win-win situation.

Peter Chalupa (Source: CME)

Peter Chalupa, Director of Acquisitions for Markiza, Nova, ProPlus, and RTL

How do you approach balancing acquisitions vs original commissions?

Both own and acquired content play an important role in securing CME’s leadership position in our markets. Our strategy is to produce and offer the best local and foreign titles which reflect the tastes of our viewers.

While locally produced scripted series and unscripted shows dominate the access and primetime slots of our flagship channels, acquired movies and series are offered across the secondary channel portfolio.

What types of rights do you require? How flexible can you be?

The scope of rights must reflect the technological evolution that has triggered changes in consumer viewing habits. I think the biggest change recently has been the integration of VOD rights since our VOD platforms have become an integral part of our business model. We remain attentive and keep adapting to new trends in the competitive and fast changing media industry.

Tell us about a few recent acquisitions and why they worked.

We continue renewing the biggest unscripted formats like Survivor, The Farm, Love Island, Kitchen Nightmares, Dragons’ Den and Dancing With The Stars, all of them perform strongly across our markets.

Success is never guaranteed, but I think that our winning formula is about understanding the expectations of our viewers, working with the best local talent, following the best practices in execution, and exchanging know-how and experience within our group.

Why did you choose NEM Dubrovnik for your group’s go-to market?

NEM has built a very reputable brand amongst industry events and it is a great market for me to catch up not only with the licensing partners and colleagues from our operations, but to learn the new trends from the region.

Iulia Plesi (Source: CME)

Iulia Plesi, head of acquisitions at Pro TV

Tell us about a few recent acquisitions and why they worked.

We always do our best to bring the world closer to our viewers, so 20 Days In Mariupol, the Oscar-winning documentary, was a great success on linear as well as on our SVOD platform Voyo.

We serve our audiences with the latest blockbusters, but we also recognise the growing affinity of our viewers have for non-theatrical releases.

How do you approach balancing acquisitions vs original commissions?

Except for local fiction, where there is more room for original commissions, we go mainly for acquisitions of licensed formats or finished programs like movies and series.

In terms of local commissions, across CME, there are well over 100 projects in the pipeline. This pipeline (otherwise known as the development slate) consists of all projects in various stages of development. The slate is constantly being updated and refreshed as projects move away from development into production.

These 100+ projects are for both linear and Voyo. This doesn’t mean that all of them will be produced/commissioned, but it means that the pipeline is extremely strong, and this is important to have given our need to have high-quality and high-volume projects.

What types of rights do you require? How flexible can you be?

Depending on the distribution channel and the needs we’re aiming to fulfil, we’re looking to secure rights that would allow us to remain Romanians’ content provider of choice, something we’ve been ever since 1995 when Pro TV was launched.

Why did you choose NEM Dubrovnik for your group’s go-to market?

NEM proved to be a fast-growing market, quickly becoming a key summit for industry professionals, and one of the few markets that sets the direction and the pace for the industry in the region. Attendance is mandatory for anyone in the industry who is relevant and has ambitions for further development and growth.

Marko Došlić (Source: CME)

Marko Došlić, head of content strategy & operations of CME Adria

How do you approach balancing acquisitions vs original commissions?

We launched the Croatian Voyo service last September with a wealth of acquired content, and we’re working towards launching own productions commissioned for the platform later this year.

The Slovenian Voyo service is the leading SVOD platform in the market, with an already established slate of with four-to-five locally produced titles per year and 22 Voyo Originals launched since 2021. We’re looking at further developing the Slovenian local content offering and bringing the Croatian one to the same level in the mid- to long-term.

What financing models do you prefer & how much can you contribute towards productions?

The Adria region has great potential for growth, in line with other CEE markets, but we are still relatively small compared to the big European markets and pre-sales is a difficult model to sustain at this stage.

Considering how much in-demand content from the wider Adria region is in all our territories, we see co-productions as a very interesting proposition for efficiently finance further increases in volume of regional content offering.

What types of rights do you require? How flexible can you be?

It’s important to us to acquire rights that meet the demands of how our audience accesses and consumes their content. We don’t have that much room for flexibility if we’re going to be relevant in this rapidly changing environment. Otherwise, we’re flexible and open to exploring models to the mutual benefit of CME and distributors.

Why did you choose NEM Dubrovnik for your group’s go-to market?

NEM has been our number one choice since 2013 and the first market in Dubrovnik. It’s amazing to look back and see just how this event has grown over the years and became a must-attend event for the whole media industry doing business in this region. The market has always covered the entire industry, following trends in content and technology, and creating bridges between all media players.

NEM Dubrovnik takes place Mon, 10 Jun – Thu, 13 Jun 2024 at the Hotel Dubrovnik Palace.

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