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International Newswire: MipCancun Reflects Shift of Power in TV from Distribution to Production

In today’s International Newswire, TV executives head for the latest edition of content market MipCancun; Telefonica’s Movistar + acquires two Danish series; and Cannes launches a screenwriting residency with backing from Canal Plus.

MEXICO CITY — As this International Newswire is published, 600-plus TV buyers, distributors and production executives will be boarding or coming off planes on their way to TV market MipCancun in Mexico. With business more brisk than ever, there will be fewer time for trips to the playa or caipirinha-drinking than ever over the three-days of the confab.

MipCancun was born in 2014 as a Latin American buyers’ market for foreign (read U.S., some European) content. This came as pay-TV was booming in Latin America. The market rapidly attracted top-echelon sellers who attend to this day. Companies present at 2017’s event include Warner Bros., Lionsgate, Miramax, Sonar, Paramount, Discovery and Viacom, and the BBC, Arte, Federation Ent., Lagardere and Vivendi from Europe.

But, in industry terms, 2014 was way back then. The same tectonic shifts felt in the U.S. business are playing out over Latin America.

Pay-TV growth in Latin America looks to be tapering off. But SVOD penetration will near double by 2021, up to 31.1 million customers, as average broadband speeds passed Netflix-enabling 4MB in last quarter 2016 and family entertainment spend continues to grow, according to Erik Brannon, at IHS Markit.

This needs some explaining. So MipCancun has beefed up its conference program to near full-on Mipcom-style intensity, with A&E Networks’ Edward Sabin, showrunner David Greenwalt (“Grimm”) and The Gersh Agency’s Roy Ashton delivering keynotes. Making MipCancun all the busier, as established TV players reposition in an ever more digital distribution environment as content creators rather than TV distributors, MipCancun is launching a Co-production Matchmaking Market: as audiences fragment and TV ad markets erode, TV players need to band together to ensure they’re making competitive series. Caribbean cavorting may have to wait.

In a meeting of two of Europe’s TV giants, Telefonica’s Movistar + has acquired two Danish series, one conceived by “Borgen” creator Adam Price — faith-themed drama-thriller “Ride Upon the Storm” — and the other by “The Killing” creator Soren Sveistrup: Kidnap hostage thriller “Below the Surface.” Both are produced by Price and Sveistrup’s SAM Productions, co-owned by Studiocanal, an affiliate of Vivendi’s Canal Plus Group, and are on Studiocanal’s sales books.

Movistar + created waves at October’s Mipcom announcing at least 14 original series to be aired by year-end 2018. Vivendi and Telefonica-Movistar + have no grand alliance. But as U.S. global digital operators ramp up Euro sub-bases with a primarily English-language offer, both Vivendi and Telefonica are plowing into top European content, original and bought. Movistar + is already airing “Babylon Berlin,” bought from Beta, which in turn sells two Movistar + series. The contours of a like-minded European TV industry are beginning to take shape.

CanneSeries Institute, a residency dedicated to the writing of TV series, has issued a call for candidates for its first edition. The University of Côte d’Azur is partnering with Serial Eyes, a Berlin-based writing residency, to guide the work of the participants. Pay-TV company Canal Plus is sponsoring the program, which comprises a five-week immersion course for eight young international screenwriters. Each participant will produce a short bible and the pilot episode for a series. One writer will be offered a development deal with Canal Plus.

The residency, which will take place from March 5 to April 11, will form part of a project to create a university hub in Cannes, led by UCA and the mayor of Cannes, David Lisnard, devoted to the creative industries. The complete educational program at the Cannes campus will start in September 2019.

It is also linked to CanneSeries, an international festival devoted to TV series that will be held in Cannes from April 4-11.

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