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MIPCOM: The Week in Drama


A look at the drama highlights to come out of this year’s MIPCOM.

Catherine Zeta-Jones, star of A+E Networks’ Lifetime TV movie Cocaine Godmother, may have generated the most buzz among MIPCOM delegates with her appearance in Cannes, but it was non-American drama that made the most headlines last week.

Indeed, for many platforms, U.S. scripted imports are playing a smaller role in their schedules than they once did, making room for drama acquisitions from across the globe. That trend was abundantly clear at the Acquisition Superpanel—What Do Programmers Want? session moderated by World Screen’s Anna Carugati. Dermot Horan, director of acquisitions and co-productions at RTÉ, referenced several British imports as having been key to his schedules and discussed the increasing importance of co-pros to his strategy. Rozan Hamaker, head of acquisitions at SBS Broadcasting, noted that U.S. dramas are less important for her channels these days, with sports, live events, news and big entertainment shows being the main audience drivers. Walter Presents has built its entire business on delivering non-English-language drama to its users; Jason Thorp, CEO of Global Series Network, which operates the on-demand platform, said it has licensed about 1,200 hours of content since launch. “We have a huge appetite. Northern European crime drama is our stock in trade, but it’s not about the algorithm, it’s about what we love.” And Aurelie de Troyer, VP of global acquisitions and co-productions at AMC Networks Global, told delegates about how she is looking to the global market for titles that will resonate with the members of the subscription streaming services Sundance Now and Shudder.

The rising profile of international drama also took center stage at the Power Shifts panel, which featured Endemol Shine’s Cathy Payne, ITV Studios’ Maria Kyriacou, Beta Film’s Moritz von Kruedener and A+E Networks’ Patrick Vien. “Even 10, 15 years ago, the vast majority of what was being sold in the scripted realm was English-language, and a lot of it American,” said World Screen’s Carugati in opening the panel discussion. “We all know how much that has changed in the last ten years.”

Indeed, the majority of screenings held at MIPCOM were for titles that originated from outside of the U.S., among them Sky’s Britannia and NHK’s Kurara: The Dazzling Life of Hokusai’s Daughter. ZDF Enterprises, meanwhile, presented Tabula Rasa, a psychological thriller commissioned by VRT and ZDF. The company also announced several drama deals at the market, with Walter Presents taking new seasons of Wataha and Thicker Than Water, in addition to acquiring Before We Die, Maltese and Helen Dorn. SRF licensed three new seasons of SOKO Leipzig and acquired licenses for four others.

Another distributor that had a very busy week was FremantleMedia International, which kicked off MIPCOM with news that Canal+ had acquired Hard Sun (from the U.K.) and Picnic at Hanging Rock (from Australia). FremantleMedia International also sold its premium U.S. drama American Gods into Canada, with Super Channel, and licensed a package of titles to BritBox in the U.S. Also in the U.S., Ovation took a number of shows from Sky Vision, including the critically acclaimed British drama Riviera.

Drama was also a key focus for all3media international last week, which clinched slots for the U.K.-U.S. co-pro Liar and the crime thriller Rellik. STUDIOCANAL placed SAM Productions’ thriller Below the Surface with BBC Four, and inked a pact with Gaumont to co-distribute the French crime thriller NOX.

Co-productions continue to reign supreme in the global drama business, and are increasingly bringing together diverse players. For example, producers and broadcasters from China, France, Germany and Australia have aligned for the book-based Farewell Shanghai. MTG’s Nordic streaming service Viaplay and New Zealand broadcaster TVNZ have aligned for the production of the crime comedy drama Straight Forward, which also counts Acorn Media Enterprises as a partner. Nexiko and Dynamic Television are collaborating to adapt and co-produce the acclaimed novel The Little Old Lady Who Broke All the Rules for Swedish broadcaster SVT.

And while European drama dominated the headlines, scripted from Latin America and Asia is also making waves. ABS-CBN International Distribution licensed the International Emmy-nominated drama series Corazones Cruzados to Caracol in Colombia. Endemol Shine Latino, Somos Productions, Boomdog and Piñolywood Studios announced they are teaming up to produce a scripted drama series based on the Latin boy band Menudo. TV Azteca and Keshet International inked a deal to co-develop and produce a new original Spanish-language scripted show for broadcast on TV Azteca next year. The CEO of TV Azteca, Benjamin Salinas Sada, in his keynote session with World Screen’s Carugati, discussed Dopamine, the Mexican broadcaster’s new independent production company focused on premium content, initially in the Spanish language. And HBO’s Richard Plepler revealed in his keynote that popular original series from HBO Latin America and HBO Asia, as well as from HBO Europe, are slated to become available in the U.S. later this year.

Catch up on these stories and more on TVDrama.ws.



About Mansha Daswani

Mansha Daswani is the editor and associate publisher of World Screen. She can be reached on mdaswani@worldscreen.com.

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