RX France’s Lucy Smith Showcases MIP LONDON Plans


RX France held its final MIPTV in Cannes last month, with Lucy Smith, entertainment division director, unveiling initial plans for MIP LONDON to a standing-room-only audience as the long-running market came to a close. MIP LONDON will run alongside the London TV Screenings, from February 24 to 27, 2025, with a pre-opening on Sunday. Smith shares with World Screen Weekly more details about MIP LONDON, its focus on “screenings, meetings and networking” and the future of MIPDOC and MIPFORMATS.

WS: Tell us about the impetus for setting up MIP LONDON.
SMITH: From the off, this was about serving a need and the need for change. We didn’t want to simply dilute, move or play around with dates for MIPTV but address the bigger picture with a new offering shaped from feedback from clients globally. So, when you think about MIP LONDON, don’t think big exhibition halls and stands; think screenings, meetings and networking. This is not “the Palais on the Thames”—MIP LONDON is different, distinctive and squarely based on a demand.

At MIP we do global markets, and global markets are driven by global market needs. And what’s inescapable is that while there is an enduring appetite in the first half of the year for a global multi-genre market—as shown by the presence of 3,500-plus people at MIPTV last month—the industry event calendar in the first six months is too congested.

The distribution calendar has moved earlier in the year, and to London, with the number of international companies showcasing there in February increasing each year to the point where 29 global companies staged screenings and events this year. All staged separately. All autonomous. More and more of our international exhibitors at MIP markets have been considering attending London in February—and we can help them stage that presence. So, MIP LONDON’s format has been shaped to complement and be additive to the existing setup.

We are providing a one-stop solution to screen, showcase and sell in one central setting—the Savoy Hotel and the adjacent IET London. All produced by the MIP team with all the support that comes with. That plug-and-play setting, in turn, operates as a hub that is open early until late and provides the platform for curated (largely unscripted) focused sessions around the screenings. Buyers are invited for free—but with the added benefit of being able to meet, network and have space to recharge in lounges set up on site.

WS: It’s been a month since you formally presented the new event to MIPTV delegates. How has the initial response been?
SMITH: Overwhelmingly positive, particularly from international companies without a base or event resources in London, who find MIP LONDON extremely relevant. It’s an option that hasn’t been available before and one that appeals.

If you are outside the U.K. and want to book a screening, host a reception and plan meetings during a week in London, it is challenging and you need resources. Outsourcing those aspects to a team with whom you have a great relationship in the same venue as others is immediately attractive.

We’re conscious that with closing a six-decade-strong market and launching a new offering, there will be many questions—but with each client conversation, the understanding of the thinking behind and the offering for February improves immeasurably. People are understanding that MIP LONDON is designed to be additive—companies continue to stage the events they want, buyers continue to be invited for free, but we can provide a new venue, hub and offering within that setup to screen, network, meet and (at times when it’s really needed) to recharge.

WS: MIPDOC and MIPFORMATS have become key events for the factual and entertainment segments—what are your plans for those events? How are you looking to cater to these segments in London?
SMITH: MIP LONDON will not be conference-led, but that said, we heard the very clear market feedback last April and the importance of both MIPDOC and MIPFORMATS is clear and the brands will be brought into MIP LONDON. More to follow as we evolve, but MIPDOC and MIPFORMATS will be part of MIP LONDON with sessions, networking and a MIP signature Screenings Library. More about those plans to come. To be sure these are best targeted, advisory boards for both are being put in place currently, so for example the likes of ARTE France’s Audrey Kamga, Ludo Dufour from Curiosity Inc., Nat Geo’s Ben Noot, Bo Stehmeier from Off the Fence, Tracy Beckett from PBS Distribution, Quintus Studios’ Gerrit Kemming and Amanda Groom from The Bridge are some of those confirmed to date for the MIPDOC advisory.

WS: MIP Drama has served as a launchpad for a lot of European and Asian series in particular. Are you looking to bring MIP Drama or elements of it to London?
SMITH: Again, MIP LONDON won’t be conference-led and the sessions that are staged will be unscripted focused, both for reasons of time and because scripted content is already traditionally well served at the London TV Screenings. But there are elements of MIP Drama that we believe may complement the MIPCOM CANNES program, which we are looking at and may transfer. Again, a work in progress.   

WS: Can you give us a sense of the scalable options available to distributors and producers who want to attend?
SMITH: The approach has been to support screenings, meetings and networking rather than the exhibitor/delegate format of MIPTV. With versatility we can deliver a value proposition and return on investment relative to the ambition and needs. We selected venues that are not only in the centre of the West End but also combine prestige and flair with plug-and-play practicalities and high specifications in multiple different-sized spaces and areas to host both companies and countries (in the same way as the pavilions in Cannes). We can match each client’s needs and ambitions with a diverse menu of options—from a one-person screening suite to a capacity of over 400, anything from a two-person meeting table to a takeover of one of the Savoy’s renowned bars where clients can host larger receptions.

WS: How has your buyer community responded to MIP LONDON?
SMITH: Similarly, it’s been really positive, with a real appreciation that the move means less time on the road for the many who were attending both the London TV Screenings and MIPTV. And at its simplest, the benefit of being able to do business with more clients in one place is a bonus for the time-poor.

WS: What outreach are you doing to bring further buyers to London in the spring?
SMITH: We know 750 buyers came to London earlier this year to screen with 29 companies. We’ve always said that MIP LONDON will be additive. With our venues at the Savoy Hotel and IET London we plan to greatly expand the number of international buyers, distributors, producers and studios coming next February to screen and hold meetings.

MIP LONDON has the potential to vastly increase the number of buyers in February. For example, we had around 1,200 buyers in Cannes in April (and of course over 3,500 at MIPCOM CANNES), so this illustrates there is a clear opportunity for more to come to London in 2025. One of our core strengths as MIP is our year-round relationship we maintain with these buyers. We have a dedicated team both in Europe and the U.S. that focuses on buyer communications. We are just beginning our outreach and we are hearing positive feedback about the potential for MIP LONDON from buyers and distributors.

Navigating London is always a challenge. We see MIP LONDON has adding a much-needed “central hub” in the West End for buyers to gather and meet throughout the week. Qualified buyers will have free access with two dedicated buyer lounges—a staple of MIP markets—open to them daily to recharge and catch-up with their teams. Add to this that MIP LONDON in one location will host dozens of international distributors as well as daily screenings in our two theaters, we believe Savoy Place—which is under a 10-minute walk from most other theatres—is poised to make attending London for buyers in February more efficient.

WS: How is MIPCOM CANNES shaping up?
SMITH: All of the major players that you would expect to be in Cannes in October will be there, and all our energies as a MIP team in Cannes moving forward is focused on MIPCOM.

All our feedback confirms that MIPCOM CANNES continues to be the most important and impactful international TV event in the calendar—it’s the mother of all entertainment content markets. It remains the flagship for the industry, and a responsibility we take very seriously.

Planning is year-round and runs years in advance, this year from October 21 to 24 October, and in 2025 we will be back to our regular mid-October dates of October 13 to 16

There are many, many exciting plans to share over the coming weeks and months. Watch this space!