Mipcom: Keynote Speaker Mark Gordon Weighs in on Modern TV Business

Thirteen years ago executive producer Mark Gordon made the transition from film to television, bringing series such as “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Ray Donovan” and “Criminal Minds” to the small screen with great success. Since EOne acquired 51% of the Mark Gordon Co. earlier this year, the titular CEO’s role has changed yet again. Next up, he’s giving a keynote speech at Mipcom.

How has the rapidly evolving television landscape transformed your role in the business?

Gordon: As a content provider — boy, do I hate that term, so I’ll use the word storyteller, which is more appropriate — the world changes in terms of the opportunities for distribution. But a good story is a good story, whether it’s being distributed through Xbox or whether it’s on a network, cable or premium cable. You slightly adjust for the specific audience, but a great story is a great story, which is very comforting for people who do this for a living, like me. There are more outlets and distribution opportunities to be able to tell those stories.

Does that abundance of outlets help or hinder the development process?

The way we approach our business hasn’t changed that much. We’ve always tried to take the position that we’re going to tell the stories we’re interested in, and hope there’s an audience for it. We presume if it’s something we’re interested in, other people will be interested in it, too, rather than to reverse engineer and say, “What is the Amazon audience looking for?” or “What are broadcast networks looking for?” We certainly keep that in mind, but we’re organically interested in the stories we want to tell and believe there will be an audience for them.

What do content creators need to focus on to thrive in this new climate?

I think it was John Landgraf who said we’re reaching the point of saturation, and I understand what he means … but if something is really good and special, it’s going to cut through. Those of us who are making shows need to be focused on constantly doing the best work we can and being inventive, creative and willing to take risks, because the audience isn’t settling for just OK. It’s our job to make shows that are really special. We have to constantly be upping our game.

How does your approach differ when targeting international markets?

Some shows don’t travel well, but generally speaking, many of the big hit shows are among the most successful shows in the international marketplace. What’s interesting is the shows that are just below that level of success. (In the U.K.), one of the most successful shows for Sky is “Arrow,” the CW show. That show struck a chord for Sky’s audience. Sky has a very broad audience, but who would have necessarily thought that would be Sky’s biggest show? Sometimes you just don’t know. In each territory, there’s something that’s going to attract (viewers), culturally, to one of our shows, whether it’s successful here or not. Certainly procedurals are universal in their appeal, and are less cultural show-by-show and episode-by-episode, so “Criminal Minds,” “CSI,” “NCIS” are very successful shows in the international marketplace.

Where do you see the industry in five years?

I have no idea. Things are changing so fast, it’s really hard to predict where it’s going in the next five years, let alone the next 18-24 months. I wish I could tell you — if I knew it would probably be good for our business…. I don’t know where it’s going and I don’t know where it’s headed, but thank goodness (all those outlets) are going to need shows. They’re going to need stories to be told.

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