MipTV is in transition
The organizers of the market appear to have realized that tinkering at the edges is no longer enough to meet the needs of the buyers and sellers in an industry changing at a whiplash pace. The jury was out among distributors about a proposal to move all sales houses into the Palais des Festivals: Some said that they liked the idea of injecting buzz and concentrating footfall, others that they liked their spots by the beach outside. Either way, Reed Midem’s Lucy Smith is likely to introduce changes ensuring that MipTV looks very different in 2020. The attendance numbers were down, but MipTV is still a huge and influential market – the second biggest of the year – and on the ground, 2019 felt like a transition year.
2020 dates see Series Mania and Canneseries cross paths
After being scheduled less than 10 days apart, Series Mania and Canneseries are headed for a near-clash in 2020. Canneseries just announced that next year’s edition will kick off March 30, 2020, a day before Series Mania wraps. The date change for Canneseries is largely to avoid conflicting with scheduled public holidays – notably, Passover and Easter – in 2020. Canneseries said it had 25,000 attendees this year, up 5,000 from its first outing last year.
TV is increasingly local and so are markets
There is still demand to get all of the world’s TV players in one place, but as local content gains ground, so do local events, with a knock-on effect for Cannes. Whether it is the London screenings, Berlinale, Series Mania or other events, the international TV calendar is no longer book-ended by MipTV and Mipcom as it once was. Reed Midem has recognized this with the launch of its well-regarded Mip Cancun and a Mip China event. More localized events are understood to be in the works. Just as the TV business has fragmented, so have the markets. The challenge for MipTV is to ensure enough of a spread between events that distributors can still negotiate international deals in Cannes. If attendance becomes spotty from particular territories or regions, it loses a key selling point with the sales firms.
Cannes in April feels distinctly European
Chinese content companies had a notable presence at MipTV, but it increasingly feels like a Eurocentric event. The Latin Americans have Natpe in January and the L.A. Screenings in May, the trip to the Cote d’Azur from Asia is a long and expensive one, and the U.S. giants are keeping their powder dry ahead of new program launches a month later. This year’s “country of honor” at MipTV was France, whose big players were out in force but underlined the European feel. Mipcom welcomes the studios and has a wider global spread.
It was symbolic of the current age of industry consolidation that Sky Vision execs were told of changes at their business – which will see sales effectively absorbed into NBCUniversal’s TV distribution machine – the Friday before the market. Distribution consolidation has an impact on the ground. Disney now owns, or co-owns, its own distribution unit, two Fox sales divisions, and Endemol Shine. Elsewhere, there was cooperation between firms – Paramount, for example, was working off the Viacom stand and touting co-productions by the two companies.
The Netflix effect
A trip to Cannes is no longer complete without the streamer being the subject of much conversation. “Dark” showrunner Baron Bo Odar duly obliged this time, hailing the streamer for making shows and movies the legacy players won’t. Bo Odar has an overall deal with Netflix and headed the jury at Canneseries. “I worked in Germany, I worked in the States with a studio and I worked with Netflix. The big difference is they started completely fresh, they basically started from zero,” he said. Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos “are not like old studio bosses who run things like people have run them for the past 50 or 60 years.”
Buyers and sellers were also trying to untangle what the launch of Apple, Disney+ and the Warner Bros. streaming service would mean for them and the market. Given that none of them had a noticeable presence Cannes, there was little firsthand information.
Canneseries: the challenges ahead
A good enough number of Canneseries titles were well-received. Project-pitching sessions at In Development attracted packed audiences. Overall attendance was up. But because MipTV lasts just three days. Sunday afternoon is taken up by the Buyers Summit, and evenings are used by buyers to fete key clients or colleagues, they simply don’t have time to catch many, let alone all, of the 16 Canneseries and 11 MipTV Screenings. International press is only beginning to cover TV series, meaning few reviews. So the impact of series, however good, is still muted.
Buzzy Canneseries titles
Canneseries opener “Vernon Subutex,” from Canal Plus, was generally well-received, galvanized by a charismatic performance from lead Romain Duris. The festival went out with a bang – almost literally, given the nuclear attack climax in Episode 1 – with the BBC, HBO, Canal Plus production “Years & Years,” which received brief but thunderous applause. Best-liked of the competition entries were most probably “The Twelve,” a Belgian courtroom drama written with scalpel precision, and a trio of dramedies: fun, feminist “Perfect Life”; “Nehama,” which received a standing ovation; and “Studio Tarara,” a take on the hard-drinking, sexually abusive cast of a 1994 Belgian comedy sketch show.