Big Brother

Reports of TV’s death premature

If you’re one of television’s creative people — a writer, producer, entrepreneur — now’s your time, says Endemol Group prexy Tim Hincks, who will deliver the keynote speech at MipTV on April 8.

“Five years ago, people questioned whether television would be the force that it is today, particularly with the onset of digital, and particularly if you look at the way the music industry was slow to react to the digital challenge,” says Hincks.

“But the rumors of television’s death have been greatly exaggerated.”

To that end, Endemol is the force behind such mega-platforms as “Big Brother,” “Deal or No Deal,” “Wipeout” and a new format that’s gaining steam abroad, “Your Face Sounds Familiar,” in which celebrity contestants perform as another famous person, such as Lady Gaga or Katy Perry.

“The TV format business is an exciting place to be,” Hincks says. “You can have nothing on Monday, an idea on Tuesday, by Wednesday it’s a format and in three months it’s on the air and going around the globe.”

In August 2011, Endemol launched Endemol Studios, producing such series as AMC’s “Hell on Wheels” and the upcoming “Low Winter Sun,” as well as ABC’s “Red Widow,” adapted from a Dutch series titled “Penoza.” This year, Endemol also is producing “Ripper Street” and “Peaky Blinders” for the BBC. Over the past four years, Endemol’s scripted business has grown 66%, says Hincks.

Hincks credits his creative teams all over the world for Endemol’s success.

“The value of Endemol comes from the people who run our business in all of our territories,” he says. “All of them would describe their relationships with broadcasters and other new businesses as partnerships. The creative world is hugely exciting and fun, but nobody knows what’s going to work and what isn’t. Partnership is absolutely the essence of turning creativity into hits, whether you are in scripted or non-scripted.

“Where it gets more challenging if is you are a platform or you are a broadcaster. We’re in lots of businesses, and we make all sorts of shows. We’re a group of creative entrepreneurs around the world. We create and market content and are completely platform neutral. We like it when people pay us, and we don’t mind what the platform is.”

In fact, some of very things that people considered potential TV killers — the Internet and social media — have presented huge opportunities for television types. Social-media applications bring audiences together to watch programs in real-time, allowing them to join an ongoing social conversation. And from a creative point of view, more platforms mean more places for programs to play.

“We all thought social media and the Internet were about the individual experience, but great television plays extremely well on social media,” says Hincks. “Everyone is talking about ‘Big Brother’ or ‘The Voice’ and using Twitter and Facebook and so on to reinforce television as a mass medium. The water cooler is now virtual.

“In the end, the creative shall inherit the earth. It’s all about the hits and those defy recession, defy downturn, they are bulletproof. If you are pursuing those opportunities with determination and a point of view, the wider economy — while concerning at a macro level — isn’t going to make the difference between whether you have a global hit or not.”

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