Digital buyers, cable creativity lift Mipcom mood

CANNES

As the Mipcom sales mart wrapped on Thursday, it turned out that it was Harvey Weinstein’s keynote speech that best captured the mood of the market, confirming that despite a mixed economic picture, the global TV biz continues to motor quickly ahead.

“TV is such an exciting area at the moment and movies are shrinking to some extent. So it’s the right time for us to get into TV in a big way,” the Weinstein Co. co-chair emphasized on Tuesday.

Thomas Dey, CEO of U.K. investment bank About Corporate Finance, called the market “one of the most exciting I’ve ever seen. The growth of U.S. cable is triggering a culture of growth, which was evident at Mipcom.

“TV used to be the poor cousin of film. That is no longer the case.”

U.S. majors struck a high profile at Mipcom. Newly promoted CBS Studios Intl. topper Armando Nunez? said, “I don’t want to sound like an obnoxious studio executive, but there are two kinds of clients: one that has deals with CBS and one that wants to have deals with CBS.”

Hubris of this kind may ultimately lead to a sea change in the eco-system of the global TV biz, where digital players like YouTube and Netflix are emerging as serious content partners and rivals to the incumbent giants.

Organizers Reed Midem claimed 500 digital buyers were among the 12,000 or so industryites at the confab.

As former CW head Dawn Ostroff, now prexy of entertainment at Conde Nast, warned Mipcom- goers, “Cable forced the broadcast networks to raise their game. Now digital is upping the ante further.”

Mipcom’s line-up of speakers, talent and screenings impressed mart attendees.

Kevin Spacey, hyping the first batch of Netflix’s 26-part remake of Brit TV drama “House of Cards,” and Jane Campion, promoting her first TV skein “Top of the Lake,” commissioned by the BBC and Sundance, were among industry players joining Weinstein in Cannes.

They all agreed on one thing — that high-end TV’s creativity is every bit the equal of what the film biz offers.

Studiocanal international sales topper Harold Van Lier, said, “Even though we are ambitiously growing our slate of films, the theatrical world has shrunk and is very tough.

“In comparison, there is so much going on here and above all there is that invigorating sense of a dynamic and growing market full of quality content.”

Other high-profile dramas at the mart included FX’s 1980s Cold War skein “The Americans” and Sundance’s “Rectify,” distributed by ITV Studios. Period pieces remain in the fore. “Everyone would love another ‘Downton Abbey,'” Wright said.

Aside from Weinstein’s ambitious take on “Marco Polo,” pirate dramas were also sailing the high seas of Mipcom. Among the titles were Starz’s “Black Sails” and NBC’s “Crossbones.”

But even the biggest distributors know they are still struggling to make headway in challenged economies like Spain and Greece.

Said one Hollywood major, “It doesn’t matter if you’re big or small, many of the Eurozone markets remain very tough.”

Despite that, U.K. satcaster BSkyB’s controller of acquisitions, Sarah Wright, detected an upbeat mood at the Palais.

She said, “It’s been a buoyant market. It feels like the recession is lifting a little.”

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