All three of Mip’s content-focused keynoters — Starz president and CEO Chris Albrecht, “Heroes” creator and executive producer Tim Kring and Electus CEO and founder Ben Silverman — are based in the U.S., but building their businesses with eyes on international markets.
“Reaching around the globe to find partnerships or monetization schemes for our products is going to be extremely important in our planning and execution,” says Albrecht, hired by Starz in December. “It’s a lesson I learned at HBO: If you have a high-quality project, you should be able to attract a positive collaboration that benefits everyone.”
That’s exactly what Albrecht hopes to do with Starz’ latest original program, “Spartacus,” a story that’s globally known.
“With that show, Starz took a big-league step forward in being able to build and create attention-getting, attitude-building original programming,” says Albrecht, who ran HBO for 20 years and helped turn the network into an original programming powerhouse with such hits as “The Sopranos” and “Sex and the City.” “You are seeing a greater need for shows to make money overseas.”
Kring’s “Heroes” was always conceived to be an international blockbuster with global reach on multiple platforms.
“I wanted to put out a message of global consciousness and connectivity,” says Kring. “We cast the show with an international feel, hoping it would be attractive to people around the word. ‘Heroes’ was designed to be big and inclusive and international. The premise was that this was happening all over the world to people everywhere.”
That premise lent itself to a digital strategy, which includes a website, “Heroes Evolutions,” housed at NBC.com. There, fans have been able to find full-length episodes, shortform videos, games, an accompanying graphic novel and much more.
“The whole idea was to take a TV show and extend it across as many platforms as we could, and to figure out how to tell stories across as many different areas as we could,” says Kring. “I knew I wanted to surround the show with all sorts of websites and conspiracies. The whole depth and mythology of the show lent itself to taking a deep dive into the worlds of intrigue and mystery that surrounded it.”
Creating top-notch programming, attracting high-end brands and then distributing that content across the globe is the name of the game for Silverman, formerly co-chairman of NBC Entertainment and Universal Media Studios. Silverman partnered last year with Barry Diller’s IAC to found global multimedia production and distribution shingle Electus.
“International markets are of primary importance to us,” says Silverman. “What you are seeing is big brands with massive ambition in emerging markets needing to line up with specific ideas that can be taken into those markets.”
Silverman, who got his start as a William Morris agent in London, will announce some of those branded content deals from the podium at Mip.