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Mipcom: Sophie Turner Laing – ‘We’ve Never Had It So Good’

Endemol Shine Group CEO voices confidence in the TV industry in Mipcom keynote

CANNES – Fresh off the announcement of a strategic partnership with AwesomenessTV, unveiled Monday afternoon at Mipcom – which sees Endemol Beyond launching local-language AwesomenessTV channels in key markets such as U.K. France, Spain and Brazil – Sophie Turner Laing, Endemol Shine Group CEO, in her 33rd year at Cannes, used a Mipcom kdeynote to make a stalwart defense of the traditional attractions of TV and voice her confidence in its future.

Appointed CEO of ESG last year, following the framework merger of Apollo’s Endemol and Core Media Group and 21st Century’s Fox’s Shine Group, hers has not been an easy ride. When asked by David Jenkinson, C21 Media editor in chief if there was one thing which kept her up-at-night, what was it, she implied that it had been sacking people. “In some locations, I didn’t need two people, I needed one.”

Her main sentiment, however, in her keynote, was optimism about the TV sector, which suffers, as she will have it, from a lack of self-confidence.

“Times have changed. Choice is now infinite, with content appealing to all interests and all niches. But at its heart, TV is a mass media: It reflects society, allows communities to represent themselves, share stories, communicate ideas,” Turner Laing argued.

She added: “So why can it feel that TV struggles with its self-esteem, that it is consistently feeling under threat and highlighting its shortcominga, and talking about itself as if it’s past its best? I simply do not share that view.”

“As an industry we’ve never had it so good. Although life has never been more complicated, its all more brilliant for it. By itself, social media doesn’t get close to the point of engagement between a program and a viewer whose relaxing after a long day at the office with a program we know can be super potent.”

Per Turner Laing, in the U.S., about 85% of active Twitter users have tweeted about TV while watching.” That said, Turner Laing did give her Mipcom audience some brief tips about how to navigate a new world of opportunity:

*Producers need to think more broadly and focus on building a direct relationship with audiences and moving our center of gravity towards a focus on our programs as brands, she said, reminding audiences that “Survivor” in the U.S. is now in its 31st season and 31 “Big Brothers” play 69 markets.

*Pursue partnerships: One reasons is economics. “The cost of producing new series is high.” Another, “there have never been so many potential collaborations available,” Turner Laing argued, citing the case of British-French crime series “The Tunnel,” which she co-commissioned when at Sky with Canal Plus, and which in turn was a reversion of “The Bridge,” a Denmark-Sweden co-production.

*Embrace geographic and corporate diversity. It is “fantastic for viewers and working with a wide-ranging of producers is what makes us creatively more exciting. Diversity is the root of our substance as a truly creative business.”

“Change creates winners and losers, its destabilizing at times, but I do believe it’s a good thing. Let us use past experiences and new relationships to help us navigate and embrace the opportunities ahead of us, and do so from a position of confidence, not fear,” Turner Laing concluded.

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