MIPTV Panel Charts Opportunities Amid Market Turbulence


SkyShowtime’s Kai Finke, Mediawan Pictures’ Elisabeth d’Arvieu, Banijay’s Steve Matthews and Endemol Shine Finland’s Max Malka discussed how they are navigating the disruptions in the media business at a MIPTV panel this morning moderated by World Screen’s Mansha Daswani.

The session, Finding Silver Linings, explored how the panelists are adjusting to new market realities and preparing for the future. It featured d’Arvieu, the CEO of Mediawan Pictures; Finke, chief content officer at SkyShowtime; Malka, head of scripted at Endemol Shine Finland; and Matthews, content partnership executive at Banijay.

Finke acknowledged the challenges of the streaming subscriber economy at present amid a cost-of-living crisis and extensive competition but is bullish about the Comcast and Paramount Global-owned platform’s prospects as it builds its business across Europe. “We are really putting together the best of our two shareholders,” he said. “However, we do have to recognize and acknowledge we’re the newest pan-regional streamer in Europe. We’ve only just launched a year and a half ago. In some countries, only 12 months ago. We’re operating in a footprint of 20-plus countries in 18 languages; navigating all of that growth organizationally is a challenge. We’re doing many things for the first time, which is very exciting. We’re making a push into original, local development and production. So while there’s definitely challenging times and a lot of disruption and evolving business models in our industry right now, we see a lot of opportunity for growing our market share, driven by this incredible pipeline of content. I only have a positive story to tell at this point.”

Matthews’ remit at Banijay sees him driving co-pro opportunities across many of the group’s labels. Formerly with HBO Europe, Matthews has long been an admirer of Banijay’s ability to develop collaborations across the group while maintaining the identities of individual production companies. Individual labels can tap into a scripted fund as well as Matthews’ production expertise. “I go from territory to territory to try and support the teams on the creative side and make the shows better,” he explained. “It seems to me that in a contraction of the industry, our shows had better be the best. My job is to try and make the projects the best I can possibly help them be. And where we are now is going to benefit the Netherlands, Belgium, Finland, Ireland, the smaller countries who remember the ’90s when everybody did work together. So, increasingly, my remit is encouraging companies within Banijay to talk to each other.”

Banijay’s extensive footprint includes Endemol Shine Finland, which has expanded its scripted slate under Malka. The label’s output includes the ten-part series Dance Brothers, for Netflix and Yle. “As a producer and storyteller, you do want to reach the audience that you know. At the same time, it’s been such a great [few] years for TV and seeing non-English language travel around the world and resonate with global audiences. We are keeping that in mind when developing our projects. We want to produce shows that have clear potential also outside of Finland. And, of course, with that in mind, when looking at projects, that means that we want a local partner, but we are also looking for international partners right from the beginning, whether it be talent, co-producers or financiers. We’re being creative both on the content but also on the financing.”

At Mediawan, d’Arvieu oversees the cinema and animation activities, as well as a portfolio of international production companies. She referenced the array of challenges production companies are facing as commissioning teams are restructured and costs for production, talent and IP soar. “The key for all these producers is to be agile.” And that includes a diversified slate, creating shows that will be subscription or advertising drivers and managing costs.

D’Arvieu added, “It is more important to co-produce between countries. It’s a way to have local customers and premium shows, but because they are only buying rights for one territory, it is a reasonable cost. The ability to partner between producers or even countries and buy an IP together has proven very effective.”

On maintaining a steady course and planning for the future in a time of uncertainty, Finke said, “For us as a relatively new streaming service, providing sustained value for our members and for our business partners is incredibly important. SkyShowtime is being offered at a competitive price point. I think we’re taking into account that the cost of living has gone up. We’re taking into account that many households have already subscribed to multiple services. For us as a service that wants to continue to grow, that value is really important. That’s what we’re trying to deliver on an ongoing basis by creating more exclusive and original content. At the same time, we want to continue to make available mainstream, tentpole, U.S. Hollywood entertainment, from our shareholders. In this evolving and changing environment, our tentpole promise to our audience needs to be value.”

Malka added, “We’re able to prove the quality that we can actually do with the smaller territories, at budget levels that are maybe more sustainable. Going forward, the word sustainability in many forms is key for us. It’s more about quality than quantity. A working budget that is sustainable for the company. You stay on budget and you think about your cash flow and gap-financing; sustainability in an economic sense. Sustainability with the environment. There’s a lot of positive things going forward, even though it’s a shift in the mindset and the economy.”

The session wrapped with each of the panelists discussing the developments that they’re most looking forward to this year and into 2025.

“There’s a new generation of talent that got opportunities that maybe weren’t there before,” Malka said. ”And we’re being creative in finding funding. Are there incentives? What partnerships would make sense for your project so it serves your needs and your creativity? So, diversity, sustainability and new talent.

“When there were four or five global monoliths, there was a sense, in my view, in terms of pure story, of homogenization. A co-production model where you have to stitch together deals here and there will be harder, but it breaks down the number of doors in terms of who makes decisions.”