ITV: Global Entertainment Unit Preps New Dramas for International Market

Mip TV will see ITV Studios Global Entertainment hit the Croisette with a number of new dramas from around the world, including Swedish thriller “Jordskott,” which is the company’s first foray into non-English-language drama; British costume drama “Poldark”; U.S. enchantress tale “Good Witch,” which stars Catherine Bell and airs on Hallmark Channel; and U.S. crime drama “Aquarius,” which stars David Duchovny and will broadcast on NBC.

“We want to be known as a global distributor and global production company, not based in one particular place in the world, but able to move rather agilely across the world, and working with the best creators, wherever they may be,” says Maria Kyriacou, managing director of ITVSGE, which distributes ITV programs around the world.

The international market is constantly shifting and one of the major forces reshaping the commercial and creative landscape is the rise of the subscription video-on-demand platforms.

“The growth of the SVOD platforms means a greater appetite for drama, especially serialized drama, and that means we can continue to invest in those dramas like ‘Poldark’ and ‘Aquarius,’ ” Kyriacou says.

Partnerships have also become increasingly important in the international market, especially for drama.

“There is an increasing desire for partnering. Broadcasters, platforms and producers are coming together much earlier on in the development of a show,” Kyriacou says. “That partnering on projects is going to continue because the scale of a lot of dramas is getting bigger, and in order to realize what the creators want to realize it is important for companies to come together. ‘Texas Rising,’ for example, is a co-production with A&E Studios.”

Texas Rising,” which will world premiere at Mip TV, embodies the type of high-caliber show that ITV aspires to represent in international markets.

The eight-hour miniseries, which will air on History in the U.S., stars Bill Paxton, Brendan Fraser and Ray Liotta. It is exec produced by Leslie Greif, who was the exec producer on multi-Emmy winner “Hatfields & McCoys,” and directed by Roland Joffe, who was Oscar nominated for “The Killing Fields” and “The Mission.” The show centers on the rise of law-enforcement legends the Texas Rangers.

“We want to be known for the best drama from around the world,” says Kyriacou. “What is really special about ‘Texas’ is that it is true ‘event television.’ It was conceived of as a big movie, and shot as one continuous story.”

Although it deals with a particular point in U.S. history, it will resonate in most countries. “It is a good old story of revenge and one that a lot of people can recognize in their own national history because it is about people standing their ground,” Kyriacou says.

ITV chief exec Adam Crozier has set out to make the company a creative magnet, and ITVSGE plays its part in that.

“We are fairly open-minded about how we attract creative talent to us. Where we are seeing a lot of very exciting talent is from the movie business. There are a lot of moviemakers now who are interested in TV as a medium to tell their stories,” Kyriacou says.

ITV doesn’t have one way of working with creative talent. “We prefer long-term relationships, but it could be an overhead deal, it could be a minority investment in their company, and we have been known to help them set up from scratch … so hopefully that means people will keep coming to us,” Kyriacou says.

Although dramas headline the slate, ITVSGE’s lineup also includes a wide variety of shows from different genres, like “10,000 BC,” in which a group of people must live like their Stone Age ancestors; quiz show “The Chase”; cooking shows “Come Dine With Me” and “Hell’s Kitchen”; jungle-set competition “I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!”; and variety show “Saturday Night Takeaway,” which has been commissioned by NBC in the U.S., where it will be hosted by Neil Patrick Harris.

“Because we have so many different development hubs and different creative teams, what you should expect from ITV Studios is that in every market we are going to have a broad spectrum of shows. On average every year we will bring 30 new shows to the market and in among them will be something for everyone,” Kyriacou says. “We are encouraging creativity everywhere, and what we bring to market is representative of that.”

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