MIPTV 2010 abuzz with deals, co-productions & partnerships

MUMBAI: International partnerships, co-productions including event mini-series and the format sector were the talking points in Cannes this week, as 11,500 delegates, including some 4,000 buyers from 107 countries got on with the business of doing business at MIPTV 2010.

Alliances inked at MIPTV this year ranged from traditional co-productions to content providers teaming up with social media players as cross-media business thrived in Cannes.

The number of buyers in 2010 at the market was up five per cent from 2009.

Japanese broadcaster NHK joined hands with Discovery’s Science Channel for the multi-year, multi-million dollar documentary Squid: Last Mystery of the Deep and at MIPTV, NHK Educational Corporation and Al Jazeera Children’s Channel announced they would work together on the 26-episode Discover Science series.

India’s DQ Entertainment, Method Animation, Story Board Animation and French public broadcaster France Televisions inked a co-production deal for the new 3D CGI animated series The New Adventures of Peter Pan, budgeted at $12.4 million.

Sky Italia launched its first international co-production, partnering with the BBC on an 8-part drama The Medici, created by Shine Group’s Kudos Film and TV and co-developed by start-up Italian production company Wildside.

“It’s clear that there is an appetite for international partnerships across the board. With broadcasters still feeling the effects of the dip in advertising revenues, there is a need to spread financing across several partners. It’s been particularly noticeable that Asian countries are increasing their co-production profile, which is why this year’s MIPTV conference programme has provided dedicated sessions to co-production opportunities in Japan, China, Malaysia and Singapore,” said MIPTV director Laurine Garaude.

MIPTV 2010 Country of Focus, Singapore, was actively promoting co-production opportunities during this week’s event. Singapore’s Media Development Authority and FremantleMedia Enterprises launched the International Animation Fund to boost co-productions in Singapore. The fund will invest up to $3.5 million per project in new animation programming, which has a Singaporean partner.

British author Terry Pratchett and actor Charles Dance were in Cannes to promote Going Postal. ALL3MEDIA International launched international sales on the 2×120 minutes HDTV drama based on Pratchett’s novel and which has been commissioned by Sky1 in the UK. Starz Media was continuing to sell Spartacus: Blood and Sand, which is about to go into production on a second season following strong first season ratings in the United States and Canada. Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht told MIPTV delegates that his company is teaming up with Ben Silverman’s new multimedia studio Electus to develop two major mini-series William the Conqueror and contemporary action thriller Peacekeeper.

Sony Pictures Television, Tandem Communications, Peace Out Productions and Scott Free Productions announced that they are joining forces on a 4-hour event mini-series Pompeii, based on the Robert Harris best-seller.

Format interest surges

With broadcasters keeping tight control of programming budgets and remaining risk-averse, one of the hottest programming genres at MIPTV was the format. Over 400 companies from 57 countries and a total of 665 delegates packed into the inaugural MIPFormats conference, networking and project pitching day on 11 April.

“Reaction to the first MIPFormats has met and exceeded our expectations. Formatting is not new, but the economic crisis, the relatively cost-friendly budgets and the cross-border appeal of formats, has meant a resurgence of interest in this sector of the industry. What we have tried to do is not only provide insight into the development of the format business, but also use the project pitching sessions to introduce creative talent to potential partners so as to develop new projects at their earliest stage,” said MIPTV director Laurine Garaude.

Comcast International Media Group reported during MIPFormats that format rights to E! Entertainment Television’s Reality Hell had been sold in Italy, Germany, Sweden, Denmark and France.

Ben Silverman’s Electus brought Chinese gameshow Big Time Spender to the international market. The international version of the show is being developed by Mark Burnett Productions and Sweden’s multi-platform television development company Bringiton and underlines that original sources of format programming are becoming ever more international. Electus is also co-producing a version of the South African interactive treasure hunt gameshow Thumb Wars, for the US market.

FremantleMedia is the latest major company to get into the popular cooking sector with Look Who’s Cooking, and the FremantleMedia team, headed in Cannes by CEO Tony Cohen, unveiled the Creative Exchange Alliance with leading Japanese commercial broadcaster Fuji Television Network. The alliance will see senior creative executives from Fuji and FremantleMedia spending time in each other’s companies to share ideas and insights in order to co-develop and co-produce new formats for the international markets.

France’s newly-formed Havas Productions, which is part of the giant Havas advertising group, announced during MIPTV that it plans to develop new formats and tie up deals with independent producers to represent their formats internationally via its distribution subsidiary Upside Distribution.

There were also indications during MIPTV that formatting is going beyond its traditional supply base of gameshows. Addressing MIPFormats delegates, Marion Edwards, President Intl. Television at Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution reported increasing interest in scripted formats which have the benefit of already having been developed or aired as finished programming. “We have a vault of great drama and comedy scripts and pilots that can provide a shortcut to success for channels,” said Marion Edwards.

Cross-media deals flourish in Cannes

With MIPTV 2010 hosting the International Digital Emmy Awards, the Content 360 festival and the Digital VIP Summit and Think Tank, plenty of attention was focused on the way content providers are factoring in internet, mobile apps advertising partners, brands and social networks as they go about their creative business and devise ground-breaking deals.

In a series of ‘firsts,’ Electus announced plans to develop and produce the first multicultural, interactive telenovela Pedro & Maria. Electus’ Ben Silverman has devised the modern day take on Romeo and Juliet for television and the web, with viewers using digital platforms and social networks such as Facebook and Twitter to participate in plot and character development. Confirming the advertising and brand specialists’ increasing role in content creation and presence at MIPTV, Proctor & Gamble Productions will act as co-producer with MTV and Electus, creating original commercials and unique branded entertainment opportunities for Proctor & Gamble beauty and health brands.

French media group Lagardere Active signed a strategic partnership with YouTube.

Hot on the heels of the Lagardere deal with YouTube, Zodiak Entertainment subsidiary Marathon Media, which produces TV animation hit Totally Spies, and games creator and publisher, OUAT Entertainment, announced that they are launching Totally Spies! Fashion Agents! as the first game to be adapted from a television series and destined for social networking site Facebook.

And in another new development, Zodiak is advancing with apps for iPhone and Facebook based on its upcoming The Age Guessing Game. While apps are increasingly common for existing brands, Zodiak has decided to generate a cross-platform entertainment package for a new concept.

“The speed and breadth of developments in entertainment is breath-taking. Story-telling is the heart of entertainment, but the coming together of television, brands, advertising, Internet, social media and mobile applications is encouraging new forms of creativity, new forms of deal-making and new partnerships which have clearly been evident at MIPTV 2010,” said Garaude.

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