Peacock in Lion’s den overseas

Another instance of consolidation in o'seas TV distribbing

MGM and NBC Enterprises have finalized a multiyear output alliance, under which MGM will provide distribution services for all NBC Studios programming across all territories outside of North America (Daily Variety, Jan. 24).

Effective immediately, MGM will handle the sales and distribution of all of the Peacock’s current and future programming, including the primetime series “Will & Grace,” “Providence,” “Profiler,” “DAG,” “Three Sisters” and “The Fighting Fitzgeralds” as well as the sudser “Passions.”

The deal is another example of the trend toward consolidation in the increasingly tough international TV distribution business.

“You can expect that NBC Studios will be producing more series in the future, and with its leverage, MGM will be able to successfully sell, not one or two, but four or five of our series at a time. This partnership is a win-win for both companies,” NBC Enterprises president Ed Wilson told Daily Variety.

MGM Worldwide Distribution prexy Jim Griffiths termed the arrangement “a powerful combination,” adding that the deal gives the Lion “a full range of programming which makes us second to none in terms of clout in the international market.”

Although no figures were available for the guarantee that MGM is offering NBC, outsiders reckon it to be a healthy $350,000 to $400,000 an hour — a figure that indie sellers without feature films rarely achieve with their shows in the international TV market.

Also included in the pact, which first came to light on the eve of NATPE in January, is a complete library component, telepics, miniseries, specials and teen programming.

For all future NBC series, MGM will have the opportunity to license the product for “run of series” (meaning for the entire life of the show); for several of the current shows, which have generally been licensed by NBC for just one or two seasons, the Lion will handle all future seasons.

The Lion will utilize its established TV distribution arms in Los Angeles, London, Sydney and Atlanta to dis- tribute the NBC product internationally.

NBC Enterprises will continue to represent NBC News, NBC Sports, latenight and formats.

Wilson added that the NBC division held talks with several other potential partners but that the Enterprises division felt “most comfortable” with MGM.

“They really have a commitment to growing their movie business,” Wilson said.

The first sign of the deal will be visible at next week’s Mip TV trade show in Cannes, where the MGM booth will be co-branded with the NBC logo.

Griffiths said he expects upcoming deals in the lucrative German market to involve both new MGM feature film titles and some NBC series.

In addition, NBC’s hour drama “Providence” is still unsold in the U.K., a deal that the Lion is likely to begin working on in the next few months.

Griffiths also said he is planning a major presence at June’s L.A. Screenings since the Lion will be selling to foreign station buyers whatever new NBC-owned pilots are greenlit by the networks in May.

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