Endemol planning cross-platform blitz

CANNES — Reality giant Endemol wants to be all things to all viewers — on all platforms.

At Mip TV Tuesday, the company trumpeted the rollout of its formats in Asia while talking up its ambitions to corner a bigger slice of the re-invigorated fiction market — and lead the way in cross-platform content.

“There has never been a more exciting time to be in the TV business,” Endemol’s recently upped chief creative officer Peter Bazalgette told Daily Variety. “We’re on the verge of extraordinary growth in entertainment on new platforms and the creative challenge is fantastic.”

On the traditional program front, Endemol will produce a fiction series for a U.K. broadcaster and it is recruiting staff for a drama department in London.

“There was a reality Gold Rush, now scripted is reasserting itself,” Bazalgette said. “Endemol is a format factory but we want to grow the scripted side of our business sensibly.”

Although it is best known for formats like “Big Brother” and “Fear Factor,” 12% of Endemol’s $1 billion annual revenues already come from scripted programming airing in the U.K., Italy, Spain, Latin America and South Africa.

In the U.S., its subsid True Entertainment produced “Widow on the Hill.”

In terms of reality, an array of deals in Asia announced Tuesday include the sale of “Deal or No Deal,” “Fear Factor,” “The Next Great Champ,” “Gay, Straight or Taken” and a four week run of the U.K. hit “The Match” to Indonesia’s Bhakti Media.

Endemol has also inked with the Philippines’ ABS CBN, which has licensed “Big Brother”; Vietnam’s Kiet Tuong advertising company, which has signed up for a 52-part run of “Deal or No Deal” for Hochminh TV; and BEC-Tero, which will produce a second series of the same show for ITV in Thailand.

Malaysia’s Firestar Media has just completed a deal with Endemol for broadcaster RTM under which “Changing Rooms” will begin airing in May.

Endemol has also secured its first deal in Japan with True Entertainment’s “Worlds Apart,” sold to NHK as a finished program.

The show aired on the National Geographic Channel in 2003 and will soon debut on ABC.

Meanwhile, like others in Cannes, where the mobile telephone industry has a high profile, Endemol is keen to develop more cross-platform content. This will be along the lines of its made-for-mobile soap “Fantesstic” and “The Orange Playlist,” an ad-funded music show that aired on Britain’s ITV 1 and was also available in mobile phone version.

ITV1 has ordered a second series of “Playlist,” which features a celeb picking out his or her fave music.

Refusing to divulge how much the cross-platform business represents in revenue terms, Bazalgette said that Endemol’s content generated 30 million phone calls and text messages a week.

“Every teenager is spending money on this stuff all the time,” the topper said. “Anybody who doesn’t get it is going to get it, very soon. This is entertainment anyhow, anywhere anytime.”

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