MipTV Feels Full Impact of Digital TV Revolution

‘Riviera,’ ’Ride Upon the Storm,’ ‘Babylon Berlin,’ ‘Jailers’ impress at Cannes trade fair

Herrens Veje. ingen scene. Lars Mikkelsen

CANNES — Graced by enticing pre-L.A. screenings of Disney and Lionsgate shows and large excitement at sneak-peeked scenes from Adam Price’s “Ride Upon the Storm” and Tom Tykwer’s “Babylon Berlin,” 2017’s MipTV trade fair underscored why Hollywood still dominates much of global TV, as well as the new raised bar of ambition of European dramas.

Amazon’s Roy Price laid out plans for Amazon to drive into more originals, though he did not go into specifics. Both Amazon and Netflix took meetings with key content suppliers at MipTV. Meanwhile, MipTV caught the TV business, and indeed the world, in vertiginous transition, thanks in business terms to a phenomenon little short of a revolution: the global broadcast of foreign-language shows, currently driven by Netflix.

Change, however, goes beyond that. Not for nothing, The Wit’s Virginia Mouseler drilled down in a Wednesday Fresh TV Fiction on 2017 as the “Year of Trans-Genre,” seen in a brace of  transsexual TV dramas plus radical change in the types of TV genre made by broadcasters.

For the international TV industry, that change remains invigorating, exciting and increasingly complicated.  One of the shows engendering a lot of excitement on the Croisette was “Ride Upon the Storm.” Created and lead-written by “Borgen” creator Adam Price and sold by Studiocanal, which has a 25% stake in Price’s SAM Productions, “Ride Upon the Storm” wowed a MipDrama Screenings audience. Its 15-minute scene assembly packed what looks like a tearaway performance from Lars Mikkelsen as a Minister and father that is God-like to his two cowed sons who seek both freedom and approval from him escaping from home. One becomes an army chaplain, the other wanders the Himalaya, seeking to find himself.

“Ride Upon a Storm” sets a highly unusual story in a now classic setting for TV fiction – Denmark and the Middle East. Conversely,the Beta Film-sold “Babylon Berlin,” directed by Tykwer, Achim von Borries and Henk Handloegten, sets a classic hardboiled U.S. noir – turning on missing porn film, high-up political perversion –  in the unusual setting spectacularly rendered, a dazzling 1929 Berlin hurtling towards extremism.

Together, the two series look set to establish a new 2017 bar for continental Europe’s still fast-evolving high-end fiction.

MipTV’s highest-profile full first episode screening was a well-received world premiere of Julia Styles “Riviera” from Sky Atlantic. Variety said it “efficiently combines elements of soap operas, murder mysteries and thrillers, and, as the frosting on top, gives viewers a peek at the luxurious lives of the oligarch-adjacent global elite.”

A & E Networks held maybe the splashiest of MipTV screenings for its big new event series “Knightfall,” centering on the Knights Templar, hosted at the mock medieval Chateau de La Napoule outside Cannes with, in attendance, exec producer Jeremy Renner, showrunner Dominic Minghella and series cast members Tom Cullen, Simon Merrells, Olivia Ross and Sabrina Bartlett.

Also playing well at MipTV, Globo’s “Jailers,” which won a Grand Jury Award at Sunday’s MipDrama Screenings, showed just how much broadcasters are evolving in their effort to reach out to cordless millennials. Delivering maybe the tensest of all fiction seen at Cannes, the episode shown at the Screenings charted the perilous odyssey from one cell-block to another of a principled prison officer, the show’s hero, in a desperate attempt to save a convict during a penitentiary riot. Part of a just 12-episode series, when Globo telenovelas can reach 150-plus, few white-knuckled thrillers feel so grounded in nightmarish reality.

In another turn-up for the books, the MipTV Drama Screenings also featured “Missions,” French sci-fi in a spaceship made for Gallic pay TV channel OCS. Its first episode took on both the spaceship’s perilous approach and landing on Mars in a just half-hour segment. And it got the job done. In a country which generally despises genre, despite a noteworthy niche genre pic build, “Missions” was again a departure, and went on to win the Screenings’ Critics Jury Prize.

“One global trend, which is literally just emerging, is localized globalization, global SVOD platforms taking localized drama, which means foreign-language in many cases, to a global audience that before would have consumed U.S. or English language drama,” said Guy Bisson, at Ampere Analysis.

“It’s an emerging trend, and the Next Big Thing,” he added.

Meanwhile, in a flipside revolution, big international players have seen a revolution in the number of territories their foreign-language drama sells into.

“The international production community has upped their game. It’s quite impressive and formidable, said Gina Brogi, president of global distribution, Twentieth Century Fox Television Distribution.

But Hollywood’s studios are not likely to lose their pre-dominance of international TV markets any time soon.

“The studios have always been at the fore in the production of terrific content,” Brogi said.

She went on: “It’s not an easy job and [relates to] experience and relationship with the talent that you can’t just start in a matter of months. That is something honed over a long period of time.”

Two cases in point. At MipTV, Fox talked up its mid-seasons – such as “Feud,” the Ryan Murphy Betty Davis Joan Crawford anthology series – as well as holding “a lot of discussions” about flagship series “This Is Us,” Brogi said.

At MipTV’s inaugural Pre-L.A. Screenings, Disney Media Distribution’s Mark Endemaño presented six shows which will be talked up in more detail next month in L.A: Two were from Marvel – “Inhumans,” “Cloak & Dagger” – another from Shona Rhimes – an untitled Paul Davies legal drama –  and yet another from “Desperate Housewives” creator Marc Cherry, an untitled slice of Kentucky Noir.

Around 10,500 delegates attended MipTV, said Laurine Garaude, director of the TV division of event organizer Reed Midem. Attendees included 1,100 digital platform execs, she added.

The rise of localized globalization lends an even larger importance to Mip and Mipcom. “In a bigger picture, MipTV and Mipcom’s strength is that they are truly international. Now as a business TV is international and the next big idea could come from anywhere,” said Jerome Delaye, Reed Midem director of entertainment.

So Mip TV itself is in transformation, adding this year not only a Pre-L.A. Screenings showcase but also an inaugural Latam Screenings, presented by The Wit, which focused on the dramatically changing face of Latin American TV Fiction. Both events will be repeated at next year’s MipTV.

With Cannes Series, an eight-day TV Festival running alongside MipTV in 2018 and hosting a co-production forum, either Cannes Series or MipTV will now be able to present dramas as projects, at rough-cut or via completed episodes.

Twinned, the two events will create “the biggest TV event in the world,” Garaude said.

Running April 3-4, MipDoc hosted the world premiere of “Big Pacific,” from ZDF Enterprises, “Origins: The Journey of Mankind” from Fox ,in the presence of Jason Silva.

In deal announcements, the U.K., France and the U.S. made much of the running:

*Global production giant FremantleMedia, which has been expanding its scripted slate under drama chief Sarah Doole, will take a 25% stake in Bend It TV, the TV production company of Grinder Chadha (“Bend It Like Beckham,” “Viceroy’s House”) which is focusing on upscale scripted content.

*Luc Besson’s EuropaCorpTV announced it would remake “Doctor Foster” and develop a U.S.-based “French Doctor.”

*Australia’s Channel Seven acquired entertainment format “Little Big Shots”’ from Warner Bros Intl Television Production.

*France’s Canal Plus picked up broadcasting rights to dramas “Fearless” and “Bancroft” from ITV Studios Global Entertainment for free-to-air channel C8.

*Entertainment One secured a raft of sales for crime procedural “Private Eyes,” starring Jason Priestley. Show is now available in more than 110 territories following latest sales to ION Television (U.S.), Universal Channel (Australia), Fox Networks Group (Italy, Hungary, Bulgaria, Balkans), SBS (Belgium), Comote TV (Greece), and FTV Prima (Czech Republic).

*FremantleMedia announced a slew of new commissions for its factual reality format “The Lie Detective” with SBS (Belgium), Antenna (Greece), STV Pirma! (Latvia), RTL (Netherlands), and TV2 (Norway).

*IM Global Television will handle international sales on two unscripted series from Imagine Group. The companies partnered to introduce format and tape sales of Imagine’s hit English-language series “Fit For Fashion” and “The Apartment” at MipTV.

*IMG is handling international sales on a slate of seven new dramas from Agatha Christie Productions, starting with “Ordeal By Innocence.”

*Turner Intl. announced a host of overseas sales on key shows from its extensive slate, including TNT drama “Good Behavior,” TBS comedy “Search Party” and Cartoon Network franchise revivals “The Powerpuff Girls” and “Ben 10.”

*Pascal Breton’s Federation Entertainment has boarded Andrew Davies’ upcoming adaptation of “Les Miserables” and “AIDS,” an ambitious medical thriller drama set against the backdrop of the epidemic’s outbreak in the ‘80s.

*Spain is stirring. Movistar Plus, the pay-TV arm of giant Spanish telco Telefonica which posted revenues of €52.0 billion ($56.6 billion) in 2016, announced sales agents’ deals on four first premium TV dramas: “The Zone “ and “Velvet Collection” with Beta Film, “The Peste,” with Sky Vision, and “Giants,” with About Premium Content.

*Fast-emerging contents giant Mediapro, also based out of Spain, has inked with U.S.-based prestige chef José Andrés to co-produce and develop TV projects, and with famed Spanish singer-songwriter Alejandro Sanz on an original primetime entertainment format, “Son of Songs.”

*Studiocanal sold Canal Plus Original “Baron Noir” to Walter Presents” for the U.S.; on Harlan Coben’s “The Five,” in two deals for Germany, ProSiebenSat.1 TV Deutschland took pay-TV rights; free-TV rights were acquired by ZDF.  It is also in final talks to co-produce Balatasar Kormakur’s supernatural triller drama “Katia.”

*BBC Worldwide secured a new deal with Central Media Enterprise Group (CME Group) for “Dancing with the Stars.” The pre-MipTV agreement will bring “Dancing with the Stars” to five Central European territories, as part of CME’s portfolio of commercial broadcasters.

* “Great Bake Off” format sold to Czech Republic. Czech TV bought the competitive baking format from BBC Worldwide for a 10-episode run.

*Israeli television network Keshet Intl. has closed a deal with Endemol Shine Israel to produce a local version of Endemol’s factual format “Ambulance.”

*ITV Studios Global Entertainment secured a raft of new EMEA deals for top dramas “Victoria,” “Loch Ness” and “Prime Suspect: Tennison.”

* “Victoria” sold to satellite broadcaster YES in Israel; VOD service IVI in Russia; and Mediaset in Italy for free-to-air TV broadcast.

*“Loch Ness” went to RTL in the Netherlands, DR in Denmark, TV4 in Sweden and TV2 in Norway.

* “Prime Suspect: Tennision” sold to DR, SVT in Sweden and BBC First for the Middle East.

*RTL has climbed onto Endemol Shine’s “The Wall” for Germany, with Endemol Shine Germany producing the local version of game show format.

*Endemol Shine closed multiple deals on “Guerrilla” with new pacts covering Australia, Spain, Central and Eastern Europe and the Nordic region, as well as home entertainment rights in the U.K., through BBC Worldwide ANZ, HBO and Dazzler Media.

*Beta Film secured deals to Sky Italia’s “1993” with Sky Germany, Movistar Plus/Telefonica (Spain), OCS (France), Telenet (Belgium), Nova (Greece, Cyprus), HOT (Israel) and HBO Nordic (Scandinavia).

*Jan Mojto’s Beta ontents giant is also set to co-produce “Love in Times of War” and “Farina” from Madrid-based “Velvet” producers Atresmedia and Bambu Producciones.

*Produced by Cottonwood, part of Federation Entertainment, and German pubcaster ZDF, tween live action series “Find Me in Paris” has pre-sold to Disney Channel for France and Italy, French state TV network France Televisions, ABC Australia and VRT Belgium.

* “Good Behavior” went to OCS (France), TIMvision (Italy), Fox (Finland), Cellcom and HOT (Israel), Stan (Australia), Neon and Sky (New Zealand).

*“Search Party” closed with All4 (U.K.), OCS (France), Cellcom (Israel).

*“The Powerpuff Girls” was licensed to Citv (U.K.), Gulli (France), Disney Channel (Germany, Austria, Switzerland), Stan (Australia), TV5 (Philippines).

* “Ben 10” found buyers in Citv (U.K.), Gulli (France), Stan (Australia), and GMA (Philippines).

The global rollout of Netflix and Amazon is energizing markets. “The more outlets available to us to get our content out in, the better we all are,” though windowing releases has certainly become “more complicated,” Brogi said.

Just one example. As it grows in territories worldwide, Netflix is no longer considered such a minor player by local broadcasters.

Said one sales agent: “After selling a first window to broadcasters that helps finance a higher-end international production, producers can attempt a global deal with Netflix, which could kick in after a two-year holdback.”

They added: “But that is increasingly killing the chance of second TV window sales to traditional TV operators, or at least diminishing their license fees.”

Reviewing TF1’s deal with Netflix, which saw the French broadcaster screening the first two episodes of Netflix’s “Marseille” as Netflix launched the show, TF1 Group CEO Gilles Pelisson said in a keynote when receiving Variety’s Achievement in International TV Award that the arrangement gave TF1 “mixed feelings.”

“As one of my Harvard professors used to say, you have mixed feelings when you see your mother-in-law driving your brand new Ferrari over a cliff. We are in competition mode, but there is definitely a [potential] sharing of value,” he went on.

The new rules of engagement between digital platforms and established TV players look likely to become one of the big questions for the future of TV.

On the kids and family side, one major novelty is the launch by big domestic broadcasters’ – TF1, Super RTL – of dedicated SVOD websites, targeting this demography, said David Michel, president of Cottonwood Media.

Another change is marked by the varying fortunes of Canada and China. After a wave of consolidation, Canadian broadcasters, once a key kids-family show financier, have now slowed commitment to new content. On the upside, Chinese companies are acquiring for SVOD and making very serious offers and increasingly entering co-productions,” said Michel.

“China used to just be a country where we would look for studios to contract animation for our shows, Now it is a major investor in some international kids shows. That’s a big change,” he added.

Otherwise, one of the other major talking points at MipTV was digital native content, debated throughout a Digital Fronts conference strand which analyzed digital-first shows one-step-up from non-user generated content.

“It’s becoming a significant sub-market and increasingly important for broadcasters and platforms, but the key question is still how to monetize the content,” said Bisson. In this context, results from initiatives such as Vivendi’s Studio Plus digital-first premium short-format series look key.