Sunny skies, red carpet star power and bustling deal activity defined MIPCOM this year, with some 13,500 registered delegates descending upon Cannes for the week.
“It’s an exciting time for the industry and for MIPCOM,” Laurine Garaude, director of the television division at Reed MIDEM, said at a press breakfast as the show opened on Monday. But underlying the whole week was a layer of uncertainty as the market shifts amid unprecedented consolidation (with more to come) and continued disruptions in how content is commissioned and monetized. And perhaps the biggest debate during the week was reception to a “reimagined” MIPTV as it, too, transitions to face the realities of the business today.
Addressing reporters on Wednesday morning following a tour of the new turnkey exhibition options, Garaude said the changes to the market follow “an extensive and widespread industry consultation to discuss the MIP markets in a changing environment.” Out of that research, Reed MIDEM said clients wanted “more scalable, more flexible, more cost-effective options.” They also wanted more buyers. “We have 3,300 buyers, but they want more, and more quality buyers.” The consultation also found a “greater need for identifying new contacts and making new partnerships. They need help in navigating this market. Any way we can help do that is really important.”
The consultation led the team to “re-create the event to match where we need to be in the future,” Garaude said, with changes to the overall market experience. “We want to open it up, create more networking opportunities, change the way people use the show. It’s been very much about the 20-minute back-to-back meetings. This is a new event with more quality time, more networking, and having In Development as part of the whole thing.
“This is a long-term strategy,” she said. “A reimagined MIPTV is going to take several years. MIPTV 2020 is going to be phase one.”
Lucy Smith, deputy director of the television division at Reed MIDEM, said that conversations are ongoing with clients “to make sure these new solutions work for them.”
Meanwhile, at MIPCOM, the conference schedule was dominated by the streamers, among them the upcoming HBO Max with a keynote by WarnerMedia’s Robert Greenblatt, the 2019 MIPCOM Personality of the Year. Greenblatt was interviewed on the stage of the Grand Auditorium by World Screen’s Anna Carugati, discussing the need to take risks in programming and the strategy for HBO Max. “The future is direct-to-consumer; there’s no doubt about it,” Greenblatt said.
On international partnerships, Greenblatt noted, “We see all the great shows being made around the world. Production is ramping up in so many countries. We are wide open for putting those kinds of shows on HBO Max as well. HBO has been flirting with it too, with My Brilliant Friend, Our Boys. So there is some of that already in the system. We’re wide open to bringing more of those shows into HBO Max.”
Library content will also be key to HBO Max, Greenblatt said. “We know people come to these platforms for different reasons. Original programming is the thing. Movies are also a big driver. Series are as well. Acquisitions are a great driver as well. We are looking at acquiring shows, but also mining the libraries we have.”
Amazon Studios’ James Farrell and Georgia Brown also delivered a keynote address last week, discussing their original programming needs. “We want something distinctive,” Farrell told World Screen ahead of MIPCOM. “If it’s the same type of show that could be on another streaming service or broadcast or YouTube, it’s probably not that interesting [for us]. Why would somebody become a Prime member to see something they can see somewhere else?”
While SVOD services tend to dominate the headlines with their big-budget content investments, AVOD platforms are rapidly building scale around the world. Tubi, for one, is starting to establish a global presence following its U.S. success. Speaking at MIPCOM, Farhad Massoudi, the CEO of Tubi, announced a 2020 U.K. launch following its Australian rollout this year. And Rakuten TV last week unveiled its first AVOD channels within the platform.
Joyn, a joint venture between ProSiebenSat.1 Media and Discovery, Inc., launched as an AVOD proposition this year, with an SVOD tier to follow. The platform wants to reach 10 million users—up from about 4.5 million—over a two-year period, Max Conze, CEO of ProSiebenSat.1, told reporters during a press roundtable. “I expect the balance in that number will be tilted towards free. I find Spotify to be not a bad analogous business model. It’s probably 50-50 [free and premium]. I quite like that. Success is not how many subscribers we get; it’s how many people we get engaged in our content in totality. Some of whom choose to not pay. That’s OK because we make money with advertising. And advertising is a good business model, possibly better than subscription.”
The group’s free-to-air assets could be used as a promotional window for Joyn’s originals, Conze told World Screen. “In this battlefield, the strength we have is that we have a connection with 60 million Germans every week. That’s very powerful. Disney doesn’t have that in Germany, Amazon doesn’t have that, Netflix doesn’t have that. We have fan communities. I’m very open to giving a two-hour exclusive free preview of a Joyn original on ProSieben, but if you want to continue you need to go to Joyn. Using the muscle of that access to 60 million in a way that is meaningful is really powerful. It was a fight internally. Broadcasters are worried that digital will cannibalize the TV infrastructure. The answer to that is, Yes a little bit, but the synergy effect is much bigger than the cannibalization effect. We’re either going to cannibalize ourselves or someone else will, so pick your poison. I think one is much more pleasant than the other one.”
Conze also spoke to World Screen about the potential sale of Red Arrow Studios. “I love Red Arrow Studios as a business. It’s a set of super production assets. They do wonderful things. The reason I’m strategically looking at it is that even though all those things are great, the international part doesn’t have a lot of synergy with my German entertainment footprint. And in a world where everything is getting bigger, Red Arrow Studios is meaningfully sizable but is not big, big. So I felt it would be good for us to explore options to partner and combine into something bigger. I think it’s quite a hot market and we understand what somebody would be willing to pay if we let go of it. We could use that cash to reinforce our German infrastructure, both on the entertainment and commerce ends. We’ll see where that process takes us by the end of the year.”
Meanwhile, Newen CEO Bibiane Godfroid discussed how transformative it has been for the group to be wholly owned by TF1 in her Media Mastermind keynote. “Newen was part of the new strategy of TF1. CEO Gilles Pélisson decided that in addition to its traditional core business, broadcasting, TF1 would focus on two different [areas]: digital and content creation and production. It’s really an international approach and a rebirth for Newen. We aim to become one of the European leaders in the production and distribution of programs. The commitment from TF1 allows us to accelerate our global expansion and to create synergy between the different companies of the group.”
Godfroid was then joined on stage by Romain Bessi, managing director of Newen, and Guillaume Thouret, managing director of CAPA and unscripted, to engage in a discussion with Carugati, World Screen’s group editorial director. Carugati asked Bessi about plans for further expansion of the network. “We want to grow if it makes sense organically. We are a key player in Europe, and we will consider all the countries and possibly go further into the English-speaking markets.”
Another major theme last week was the continued importance of diversity and representation. Reed MIDEM again teamed with A+E Networks and Diversify TV to present the MIPCOM Diversify TV Excellence Awards, with honors going to Starz’s Vida and BBC Three’s Jerk, among others.