Marco Bassetti on Importance of Scale, COVID-19 Impact


Speaking at the Paley International Council Summit, Marco Bassetti, CEO of Banijay, discussed the importance of scale and weighed in on the drivers of the company’s acquisition of Endemol Shine Group.

Bassetti took part in a conversation with Cris Abrego, chairman of Endemol Shine Americas and CEO of Endemol Shine North America, at Paley’s virtual summit, which kicked off yesterday.

On the origins of the Endemol Shine deal, Bassetti referenced the shared DNA of the two companies, noting that both he and Banijay Chairman Stéphane Courbit had previously held senior roles at Endemol, “the first big unscripted company in the world.”

He said the transaction also served as a unique opportunity for the company to be more nimble in a rapidly changing media environment. “We could expand our business from 16 to 22 territories, and scale up our catalog from 22,000 hours to almost 90,000.”

Both companies, he said, were focused on attracting talent, creating new formats and retaining lucrative IP rights. “We had similar strategies. And it was a similar culture as well.”

The enlarged company can now be an even better home for talent: “We can easily help [talent] create new IP, we can distribute their new IP and create value for them and for us.”

He added, “Our business is a business of formats, IP and talent. It cannot be one without the other.”

Demand for content remains strong globally, Bassetti continued, giving the enlarged company greater leverage in navigating the landscape today.

Bassetti also pointed to the importance of Banijay’s significant worldwide network as it creates shows that can roll out globally. “If I am Italian and I want to create an international hit, I need to have input from other people in other countries, to better understand what they need.”

He continued, “If you watch shows like Survivor, MasterChef, Big Brother, they are so different country by country. The structure is the same but the way it’s produced, how it’s exploited, is different. We have unique skills to do this.”

This is particularly beneficial as global streamers look to drive deeper into local markets worldwide, he said.

Banijay’s global scale also helped it get back into production amid COVID-19: “We have the capacity to create a bubble in our hub format,” he said. Meanwhile, its heft of non-scripted shows also proved to be beneficial as many were able to return to production faster than scripted.

The global pandemic has accelerated trends that were already ongoing, Bassetti noted: “There is a clear shift from linear to nonlinear. We were ready for this.

“Content is resilient even during this kind of crisis,” Bassetti said.