The first fully in person Mipcom for three years is winding down as thousands of tired, fuzzy-headed but happy delegates make their way to Nice airport or jump on trains to Paris. The market was set to a backdrop of an industry in a deep state of flux, as new buyers establish themselves and more seasoned ones react and adapt. Below are just some of the key takeaways from three action-packed days on the Croisette. One thing is for sure, while making TV is not the easiest business, the 10,896 attendees RX reported to have attended were simply delighted to be back together in person (last year’s restriction-laden Mipcom was hybrid and attendance figures comparatively low) and the atmosphere was the buzziest for many years, especially when the coffee machines were locked away and the alcohol started flowing. Read on.
“Co-pros are back”
Before Mipcom got underway, Deadline spoke with Director Lucy Smith, who proposed that the market was going to pivot away from straight distributor-to-buyer sales and towards co-productions. Boy was she prophetic. Deadline spoke with dozens of execs who concurred with Smith that the immensely complicated and expensive nature of TV making in its current state has meant that finance needs to be sought from a variety of places, and these conversations were taking place all over the Palais. Indies were taking advantage of the new 1,000sqm Producers Hub to meet with potential distributors and investors for funding, and many were seeking multiple buyers for shows in different territories. The days where dozens of traditional distributor-to-buyer deals were struck during the three-day window are over, according to multiple sources, and the number of sales releases hitting Deadline’s inbox reflected that. Instead, “this has become the place where we move that deal one step further, or find the extra 10% we need from a different buyer,” according to one indie boss. Meanwhile, the new streamers are showing a tendency to be more flexible on their rights’ position and are looking to strike local territory deals rather than taking whole world rights. Amazon’s Prime Video execs were said to be out in force, for example, having conversations about picking up shows for local territories, and the likes of Paramount+ Australia’s buzzy Last King of the Cross was a talking point in this vein. With a major marketing push and swanky launch party Tuesday night, the Cineflix Rights-shopped crime drama show pre-sold to Sky in Europe on day one. With prices still rising and new buyers establishing themselves, this trend looks set to run and run. “Co-productions are back,” could be heard echoing across the Croisette. And while many distributors are busy warehousing content for their own streaming services, Mipcom became somewhat of a celebration of agnosticism, with the likes Cineflix and newly-launched Fox Entertainment Global celebrating their ability to sell to anyone and everyone. The latter was unveiled with a keynote then cocktail party Monday, marking the newest player on the fast-changing international distribution market.
Netflix’s next move
Amazon execs may have been out in force but Netflix was conspicuous by its absence, according to many. But what a week it has been for the ever-evolving streaming service. While The Crown‘s upcoming fifth season continues to cause controversy, interested parties had plenty to dissect about Netflix’s AVoD strategy, rights position and, from Tuesday morning onwards, positive subscriber and revenue results that had Los Gatos execs breathing deep sighs of relief. Having initially sworn it would never succumb to advertising temptations, Netflix’s AVoD strategy led to raised eyebrows in Cannes. Delegates wondered how many subscribers will be willing to put up with advertising while still paying a not-insignificant $6.99 per month. Some may see it as the worst of both worlds. Elsewhere, Deadline understands lobbying pushes are being readied in certain territories such as the Nordics, who fear for the impact on the local advertising market and smaller broadcasters’ slice of the pie once Netflix’s ad-tier gets going. “They cannot just come in and take this share of the market,” said one Nordic exec, who is close to these conversations. Meanwhile, as Amazon, Paramount and others were looking to strike local deals, Banijay CEO Marco Bassetti pulled no punches during his keynote when he criticized Netflix’s continued position on taking global rights and IP — a row that has been rumbling for many years. “The financial market has decided this is a golden age for content but this is not the golden age of revenue sharing,” said the exec, who was one of a number of big-name keynote speakers including Fremantle bosses Andrea Scrosati and Jennifer Mullin and Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke. Bassetti’s talk was by far the most attention-grabbing. All eyes on Netflix’s next move.
FAST channel chatter
Netflix isn’t the only one thinking about advertising, mind. Enter the FAST channel chat, a constant in conversations about where the next revenue streams are coming from. Every distributor was at it. Unlike Netflix’s AVoD service, FAST channels are free and represent a means of bringing in extra cash, while tapping into fan’s desire for certain shows or genres. The likes of Banijay Rights, Fremantle and All3Media International will have at least a dozen each within a year. One exec at a super-indie claimed the proliferation of FAST channels was a key factor driving the M&A in the distribution market, with distributors needing content to stock their direct-to-consumer offerings. Producers and distributors alike were also excited by the opportunities offered by ad services like Amazon Freevee and Roku, the latter of which is a major U.S. player that has yet to really penetrate Europe but recently signed up high-profile Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier, who was due to keynote at Mipcom before news of his switch was announced). Expect more on FAST next year as these platforms become more established. As one international exec told us: “Everyone is making the push to AVoD right now.”
The cost of living and making shows
Europe is on the precipice of recession and, as cost of living goes up, so does the cost of making shows. Almost every keynote speaker was asked about how their business is managing the upcoming crisis and the broadcaster/producer budgetary relationship was placed under the microscope. Banijay’s Bassetti was most candid when it came to discussing his French-headquartered powerhouse’s approach. He said the super indie’s labels are “squeezing the time it takes to produce, finding the best places to take advantage of tax credits and filming in countries where costs are lower.” At times like this, scale pays off, according to Bassetti, and indeed it was the bosses of smaller indies that Deadline spoke with who were most concerned. For these producers, the question of how much a broadcaster has to up its budget to account for increased costs is a poignant one. “Some are much better at this than others,” one such European indie boss told Deadline. The issue is set to run and run, with the full effects of the crisis likely to hit in the near future. Difficult choices for buyers are incoming.
The M&A train
A TV market wouldn’t be a TV market without M&A rumors abounding. Deadline kicked off Mipcom by breaking the news of Banijay’s first UK acquisition since the Endemol Shine Group deal, as Chloe producer Mam Tor was brought into the fold, coming fresh off the back of Banijay’s acquisition of a very different offering: Mythbusters factual distributor Beyond International. Both deals are testament to the outfit’s desire to cover all bases. As journalists were munching on croissants at the annual ITV Studios Monday morning breakfast, news broke in the Financial Times of a potential sale of ITV’s production and sales arm, which turned some heads and had execs’ heartbeats quicken. ITV Studios was quick to dampen expectations but the report certainly got people talking, and the rationale behind a sale does make sense. ITV CEO Carolyn McCall has been clear about her ambitious targets for the production arm, which now only makes a third of its sales to the ITV network and has sprawling international reach, along with her frustrations with the broadcaster’s share price. Both sides could be served well by a deal. Shares in ITV had risen more than 10% by early afternoon on Monday following the news. Various other M&A rumors spread throughout the three days like wildfire, some of which will disappear and some of which may prove true. The big players are clearly keen to add scale.
Additional reporting by Jesse Whittock