Globes draws big int'l numbers
The Globes telecast is not a guaranteed shoo-in to win the day in primetime ratings.All such shows, from the Oscars to the Emmys to the Grammys, have had their ups and downs in recent years. Competition is often stiff, and audience interest flags if broadly appealing titles or talent are not up for trophies. But abroad, there is no such glut of back-patting extravaganzas on the small screen, and the spread of celebrity culture, especially of the Hollywood variety, continues unabated. Thus the Globes, along with a plethora of other U.S. award shows, are drawing great interest from foreign broadcasters. And greater interest means bigger license fees. Longtime U.S. program distributor Fred Haber has made licensing awards shows something of a specialty, currently handling a catalog of 10 such programs. They fall into three categories: film-TV events, music awards and beauty pageants. Haber is particularly pumped about the Golden Globes. “It’s the fastest-growing film and TV awards show in the world, with the television side of things really now taking off,” the New Jersey-based distrib told Daily Variety. Moreover, the Globes by definition represent a foreign perspective on what is trophy-worthy in the American film and TV biz and are thus more responsive, at least in theory, to what overseas folks relate to in American culture. (The Globes voters, who belong to the Hollywood Foreign Press Assn., are all journalists who write for foreign publications.) “I like to bill the Globes as the Oscars meets the Emmys,” Haber added, pointing out how stations are fighting for the rights in places as remote as Sri Lanka and Senegal. “The show is fun, and that translates abroad, too.” Among his clients for that show are biggies like the U.K.’s Livingtv, Ireland’s RTE, Oz’s Network Ten and Japan’s NHK. The Globes have even become a mainstay on CCTV in China. “It also doesn’t hurt that the Globes are a more relaxed, less stage-managed show, with occasional miscues. That’s something that appeals to folks around the world who want their television to be more ‘reality’-like,” said a longtime international media analyst. Although distributors themselves are reluctant to reveal specific figures, analysts reckon the Globes are pulling in as much as $2.5 million-$3 million a year from overseas buyers. (The Oscars, which has for years been distribbed by Disney abroad, rakes in more than any other such awards show, between $12 million and $15 million a year from foreign sales.) Six of Haber’s 10 awards shows are in what he calls “the 100+ Club,” meaning they’ve each been licensed in more than 100 territories. His latest coup was wresting the rights to Spike TV’s Scream Awards. “I noticed in Variety a sizable number of horror movies that had done quite well at the box office. So I thought, maybe this awards ceremony (focusing on the horror/sci-fi/fantasy niche) would catch on. So six months ago, we killed to get it. And would you believe, it struck a chord abroad: It’s now in our 100+ Club.” As for beauty pageants, Haber said the avid interest of buyers in Latin America and Southeast Asia is amazing. It has something to do, he opined, with their cultural mindset. “What I like,” he said, “is that these pageant shows are about changing perceptions: Women who see them may not obsess so much about how they look in a bikini but rather about what it might take to become a doctor or a businesswoman.” (That more high-minded sentiment is part of Haber’s pitch.) The only category that has a problem abroad, according to Haber, is music shows: It’s “a pitched battle” to secure deals for them abroad, no matter how well produced they are, he admitted. Problem is, Haber pointed out, there are so many different things tugging at consumers nowadays, including iPods and other gizmos, especially in the music arena. On the other hand, his philosophy is that it’s more important to gain visibility for a show rather than to hold out because the money is not significant. “It’s not about generating the last dollar,” Haber said in explaining why he went ahead and did a deal in Haiti for the Grammys at a $200 license fee. “It’s about getting the show on the air so folks can see what the talent is doing. Visibility is important, too.” As for the Emmys, a similar story emerges: Ratings Stateside are on a roller coaster, but the only direction they’re headed abroad is up. Fireworks, a Canadian-owned producer-distrib, has handled the show outside the U.S. since 2003. “It’s a raging success,” Fireworks Intl. prexy Greg Phillips told Daily Variety. “We have widened the coverage significantly, so that it’s now in 90% of the world. Only Belgium, which says its auds don’t enthuse over awards ceremonies, has consistently passed on the Emmys.” In the U.K. Livingtv airs the Emmys, and in China a deal was struck with state-run pubcaster CCTV. It goes out live in a number of countries, including not only Canada but Australia, Germany and Japan. Phillips suggested the reinvigorated popularity overseas of American TV shows, especially drama series, is another reason why broadcasters in some territories are competing to land the Emmycast. “Ratings around the world are quite buoyant,” Phillips said. He also said the TV Academy helps considerably with the marketing of the show abroad, making sure, for example, that presenters and award winners are made available to press from the foreign broadcasters who have licensed the show. As for license fees, outsiders estimate the Emmycast is pulling in as much as $3 million a year from its foreign licensing deals. (Stateside the annual license fee is about $10 million.)
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