Diversity and content ingenuity were among the key topics addressed at MIPCOM under the theme “The Big Shift.” The market wrapped last Thursday with some 13,800 participants and a record number of 4,800 companies from 110 countries in attendance.
In a sign that the media industry is still growing even as rampant consolidation continues (market chatter included the fate of Disney and Fox executives as that merger takes shape and who will take control of Endemol Shine Group), MIPCOM saw a slew of new exhibitors, including first-time country pavilions from India and Morocco, among others, a huge Chinese delegation and new content distributors like Turkey’s Madd Entertainment.
The busy conference schedule, meanwhile, included top media executives and producers discussing how they are coping with a rapidly changing media industry.
Josh Sapan, president and CEO of AMC Networks, weighed in on the company’s approach to storytelling in a session with Fear the Walking Dead star Colman Domingo, moderated by World Screen‘s Anna Carugati. “Technology invites different ways of telling stories, and if we can marry that with the best storytellers and curate them against a backdrop of many, many more options, the world will pay attention,” Sapan said.
On building long-term relationships with talent, Sapan noted, “We treat every show as precious—precious for the creator, precious for the writer, precious for the actors and precious for the audience. That drives our relationship with creators and hopefully with the audience. There are very big companies getting bigger, and they are focusing on facility and accessibility. They want to bring their good mousetrap to everybody. There’s nothing wrong with that. Some material can get lost in that mousetrap. At AMC Networks, we believe that will bring work forward in a way that will give it its best showcase and its best illumination. I hope that when we speak to creative people, they recognize that we’re not just saying yes and saying goodbye, we’re saying yes and saying hello to a process that is ongoing, that will treat it like it sits in the front window of the stores that we operate, not somewhere on a shelf that you can find if you want it, that may be suggested to you but is not in the front window. And the front window is very important. It needs to be in the front window for a period of time for the world to find it.”
Tim Davie, CEO of BBC Studios, was also interviewed by Carugati on the stage of the Grand Auditorium, discussing the importance of the merger with BBC Worldwide and how it has enabled the company to ramp up its focus on bold British creativity.
“The key rationale for us bringing our production and distribution businesses together was to secure talent,” Davie said. “At the heart of it is we are in an incredible time, the speed of change is dizzying, scale is becoming more defining. To attract and retain the best talent we needed to have a system that enables you to come up with an idea, get it made, get the funding together and come to the market quickly. It’s about making projects happen and bringing the various parts of the business together. That enables you to move at speed and make bigger things happen quickly. We felt the overwhelming need to do that.”
On how BBC Studios is competing for talent, Davie said, “We’re pretty focused. Can a British entity or a local entity compete in this great global game we’re in? I often say we’re a big small company. Local content is critical but there is no doubt that you have to choose your battles now. We talk about British bold creativity. We’re a global company powered by British creativity. We are very focused on high-end, British-driven creativity of the finest quality, underpinned by the BBC’s values, the editorial values we care about.”
ITV CEO Carolyn McCall delivered a MIPCOM keynote in which she discussed the importance of having an integrated production-distribution business and outlined how the media giant is upping the investment in its multiplatform ITV Hub.
“We have to make sure we have a relationship with the viewer,” said McCall on her strategic priorities. “The integrated producer model we have—where we do U.K. production and broadcast—is a very potent competitive advantage. We’ve strengthened that. We’ve added more programming, we’ve made marketing investments, we’re investing in data tech analytics. We’re creating a vision that is about directly connecting with the consumer. We have communities of fans who want to have deep relationships with us.”
McCall was asked about Endemol Shine Group, following ITV’s recent announcement that it wasn’t going to make a bid for the company. “We did not say it wasn’t a good strategic fit with us; actually it’s an obvious strategic fit. And our shareholders would have expected us to look at it seriously. We came out and said we’re not putting in a bid because of a multitude of factors. That’s also not to say that we wouldn’t be interested in future M&A. We would have to do it in a very rational and disciplined way. 2010 to 2015 was doubling [ITV] Studios to get it to a scale business. This is now about rational, disciplined acquisitions and backing talent.”
Lorenzo Mieli, Álex Pina and Eric Newman discussed the creative process in the Talent Behind the Camera session moderated by Carugati before each receiving a Trendsetter Award.
The MIPCOM Personality of the Year award, meanwhile, was presented to Insecure star and co-creator Issa Rae. “White people are sick and tired of just seeing white people in shows,” quipped Rae, noting the importance of authenticity and diversity in the media industry.
Rae also made an appearance at the second annual MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Awards—meant to recognize diversity and inclusion across the TV industry—where winners included The Boy with the Topknot and Home and Away.
As China was fêted as this year’s Country of Honour, there was also much talk about the increasing influence of Asian storytelling in the global media industry across all genres. Producers are also looking at Africa as a potential new source of creative storytelling.
“This was an extremely vibrant and memorable MIPCOM,” Laurine Garaude, director of the television division at Reed MIDEM, told reporters at the closing press conference. “We saw the TV industry rise to new heights here in Cannes with a tremendous amount of international series that were highlighted, A-list talent and heavyweight industry leaders.”