Cautious optimism at Mip TV conference

TV buyers eager to replenish dwindling stores

As Mip TV gears up, a promo of Spanish, French and even Macedonian versions of “The Wheel of Fortune,” presented Sunday by CBS at the one-day Mip Formats conference, was just one indication of where the international TV business is heading.

But Mip TV’s conference panel sked already suggests major trends at the five-day mart, which kicks off today: emerging markets, digital TV, high-end international dramas plus co-productions — and formats.

Attendance suggests the market has bottomed out.

By Saturday, accreditations were at 11,500 attendees, level with 2009, said Laurine Garaude, Reed Midem TV division director.

Buyers are up 5% to 4,000.

“TV execs are more in buy mode,” Garaude said. “There is a strong appetite for acquisitions. Some companies have relied on stock last year and need to replenish inventories. But there are also many new players seeking quality content.”

In another sign of rebound, a bevy of new high-end dramas and event TV is being brought onto the market.

Making its Mip TV debut, Graham King’s GK TV, launched in November, is introducing “Camelot,” from British shingle Ecosse Toronto’s Take 5, and “The Tudors” producer Octagon in Dublin.

“We’re looking to deliver on authenticity but also still have fun with the mythology,” GK TV prexy Craig Cegielski said.

Paris-based Frederic Sichler has just announced “Pharaoh,” from showrunner John Milius, set in ancient Egypt.

“The Wire’s” Idris Elba will fly into Mip to promote crime drama series “Luther” for BBC Worldwide, while Jason Priestley will tubthump E1’s “Call Me Fitz.”

In formats, Ben Silverman’s new shingle Electus has “Big Time Spender,” a Chinese gameshow being developed with Mark Burnett Prods., while Endemol’s biggest bets are “100 Ways to Leave a Gameshow” and “Extra, Extra Small.”

Fox is pushing format rights to its sitcoms and dramas, such as “Prison Break,” which are coming to the end of their original series runs, Marion Edwards, prexy of international TV at 20th Century Fox Television said at Mip Formats on Sunday.

CBS’ Paul Gilbert told the Formats confab that the net is eyeing companies to buy outside the U.S.

The mood going into Mip TV is “cautiously optimistic,” Cegielski said.

“From where I sit in Los Angeles the development of new programming and production is picking up. I think we will see evidence of this at Mip,” said Jeff Tahler, FremantleMedia VP, acquisitions and development.

(Elsa Keslassy contributed to this report.)

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