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‘Legion’ Leads Bold Global Offerings From Fox Networks Group Content Distribution

Fox Networks Group Content Distribution, headed by exec VP and managing director Prentiss Fraser, has the best of both worlds.

“For all intents and purposes, we are operating like an independent distribution company,” Fraser says. However, the division benefits from the advantages derived from its symbiotic relationship with the Fox and National Geographic channels business. It sells the first window rights to the small number of territories where the channels don’t operate, and the second window rights to all their shows.

“We’ve got this really impressive, boots-on-the-ground channel business, and we’ve got the backing of a U.S. studio,” Fraser says.

“We are a boutique distribution company that was formed to be an extension of the channel business. We house over 16,000 hours of content that have been aggregated from 65 [channel] offices around the world, and we ensure that our content is getting exploited in a way that makes the most amount of money for our production partners and 21st Century Fox.”

The library comprises a small number of U.S. scripted series, around 200 hours, and around 7,000 hours of National Geographic programming, which is the central pillar of its offering. The rest of the content is local-language productions from around the world.

Leading the MipTV slate is FX and Marvel’s “Legion,” which is the first scripted drama series set in the X-Men universe to come into the market. It is written by Noah Hawley, best known for reinventing “Fargo” for the small screen, and toplines “Downton Abbey” and “Beauty and the Beast” star Dan Stevens.

“We are thrilled with [‘Legion’],” Fraser says. “It’s absolutely stunning. The story is intentionally complex, but that entices the viewer to watch and rewatch episodes to make sure they get every juicy detail.”

Other English-language drama series include “The Walking Dead,” “Wayward Pines,” and “Outcast.” “Our buyers know us for having edgy, provocative content,” Fraser says.

There are also scripted shows from National Geographic, including “Mars,” from Brian Grazer and Ron Howard’s Imagine Entertainment and Radical Media, and “Lawless Oceans,” about an investigator who tries to solve a murder committed on a ship.

The division has a wealth of local-language scripted shows from its Fox channels in such territories as Turkey and across Latin America. “Local-language productions are getting more popular, and assuring that it is aggregated in one spot is becoming increasingly more valuable for the business,” Fraser says.

The local-language scripted slate includes “2091,” which is billed as Latin America’s first original sci-fi show, and a provocative series called “Call Me Bruna,” the true story of a young woman who chooses to become a prostitute. “[It is] a very sexy series and is going gangbusters in Brazil,” Fraser says.

On the factual side, Jason Silva will be at MipDoc to present his National Geographic show “Origins: The Journey of Humankind.” New documentaries include “Gender Revolution: A Journey With Katie Couric,” about gender and transgender issues, and “LA 92,” which presents never-before-seen footage leading up to, during and after the Rodney King beating incident. The latter show comes from Oscar winners T.J. Martin and Daniel Lindsay, and Simon and Jonathan Chinn.

One thing that helps FNG Content Distribution stand out is the diversity of its offering. “We run the gamut to suit any broadcaster’s need so if they want to experiment with something it is a really great place to shop from,” Fraser says.

Another difference is that it provides its content in 34 languages. “When people are going to launch a channel or they need to have a large on-demand offering alongside their linear channels that is a really great opportunity for them,” she says.

Fraser has spent the past year strengthening the sales team. “We have doubled the size of the team and want to make sure we have got as many people sitting in the channel offices [around the world] as possible, working strategically with the channel, and really trying to elevate that relationship,” she says. “That’s what we are going to be spending the next year focusing on.”

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