Confab shoppers will have flurry of options
While breakout hits on the level of “Modern Family” or “Glee” may not be in the bunch this year, a new slate of programs heading to Mipcom has studios feeling confident.
Each studio camping out at Cannes for the Oct. 4-8 global TV confab has reason to believe it’ll be a buyers market, and broadcasters that haven’t already written checks months following the L.A. Screenings could be doing so soon.
NBC Universal is looking to fill the “Lost” and “24” serial void with “The Event,” and the show got off to a strong Sept. 20 Stateside start. CBS Studios Intl. believes the “Hawaii Five-0” reboot is a longterm player, while Disney thinks “No Ordinary Family” could be the show everyone — sci-fi fanatics and the rest of the family — can watch together.
Warner Bros. has another Chuck Lorre laffer in its sales catalog with “Mike and Molly.” If the skein achieves anywhere near the success of Lorre’s “Two and a Half Men” and “The Big Bang Theory,” Warners will be feeling flush for years to come.
On the other hand, Twentieth liked its chances with conman drama and critical fave “Lone Star” before the show premiered in the States. Now, however, with U.S. auds completely rejecting the pilot and the show canceled, the studio is looking for something else to entice buyers.
Coming out of the Screenings, buyers are often at the disadvantage of having seen just the pilot — and sometimes only a presentation — and being forced to make decisions of what works best on their respective schedules without more info. At Mipcom, additional episodes are often available for viewing, which will give buyers a sense of how the show is progressing.
Even more importantly, by the time everyone heads to the Croisette, a majority of the shows will have made their Stateside debuts. Those early ratings reports will surely give buyers a sense of whether a particular show may be a one-season-and-out performer or be around for years to come. For buyers needing some program stability on their respective lineups, U.S. ratings info is vital in making an informed decision.
One trend that should appease many buyers is the reduced time between Stateside screenings and their international telecasts. In the past, episodes have often launched several months or longer following their U.S. telecasts, but with Internet piracy a concern and high demand for consumption, programs travel much more quickly nowadays.
“The Event,” for example, will begin in a few weeks on Channel 4 in the U.K., and episodes will clearly be telecast more expediently than in the past after their U.S. debuts. Also, the show has been gaining traction worldwide and was sold to nearly 200 territories before the Sept. 20 Stateside premiere.
“This is a great trend from every perspective,” says Belinda Menendez, head of global TV for NBC Universal, about the reduced lag time for U.S. shows airing around the world. “The logistics can be complicated, and it’s smoother for English-speaking territories. Things can get complicated when dealing with dubbing issues.”
While nowhere near the frantic buying frenzy of several years ago, the U.K. landscape is beginning to pick up.
Says Twentieth international topper Marion Edwards, who is seeing a lot of action from Sky and channels Four and Five: “We’ve seen a much stronger U.K. market in the past six months. I don’t know if we’ll return to stratospheric prices of yesteryear, but we’ve seen a return to a more vibrant and competitive market.”
The studios come to Mipcom with not only full slates of programming airing on the broadcast side but from cable as well.
USA Network’s scripted fare has performed well in the States for years, and new skein “Covert Affairs” — already sold in France — will be on offer for the first time. Warner Bros. will shop TNT hit “Rizzoli and Isles,” and ABC Family teen fare “Pretty Little Liars.” Twentieth handles much of FX’s lineup, including Shawn Ryan-produced “Terriers” and upcoming boxing drama “Lights Out.”
Sony, on the heels of Showtime’s season two renewal, will be shopping Laura Linney half-hour dramedy “The Big C,” as well as FX’s Timothy Olyphant starrer “Justified,” about a U.S. marshal dealing with a handful of personal issues.
Sean Cohan, senior VP of international at A&E Television Networks, has a slew of reality programs for sale, including strong performers such as “Pawn Stars” and “Top Shot.”
“There’s been a strong appetite for unscripted, and that appetite doesn’t seem to be flagging,” says Cohan, who now has A&E, History and Lifetime nets under his purview and more scripted fare than ever before. “Will there now be a stronger appetite for scripted? My hope and belief is yes.”
The cost for scripted programming is significantly more than for reality. Still, Cohan believes the investment is worth the price if the show delivers.
“We have an expectation the pricetag will reflect the quality and investment of the product,” he says.