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Mipcom Panel: Showrunners Have to Compromise, Pay-TV Stable During COVID-19

Mipcom
Courtesy of S. d'HALLOY - IMAGE & CO/Reed Midem

Showrunners will have to make some creative compromises due to the effect of the coronavirus pandemic, it emerged during one of the warm up sessions leading up to Mipcom.

Presenting research during a session titled “Post-disruption production and scheduling recovery” on Monday, Tim Mulligan, research director, video analyst, at specialist media and technology analysis company MIDiA Research revealed that there were 532 scripted shows in the U.S. in 2019, a figure which is estimated to shrink to 279 in 2020.

“This will have significant ramifications over the next 12-15 months,” Mulligan said. “COVID compliance comes to the fore.”

“The need to create content that can be produced adhering to the new social distancing regulations, but which is also smarter and savvy about locations, about integrating big budget productions, big fight scenes for example, now has to be constrained,” said Mulligan.

He added: “There is also going to be a great constraint on the creative freedom of showrunners, because there is going to be greater demand to get productions into the distribution funnel as quickly as possible to offset that production deficit that we have, which means there will be some compromises in the overall artistic vision and direction of productions.”

Mulligan conducted a virtual fireside chat with Karin Heijink, vice president pay-TV channels and products at international broadcaster Viasat World. Heijink said that due to surplus production in 2019, Viasat’s pay-TV business is looking robust until the end of first quarter 2021.

Addressing the recession that is likely to impact the world, Heijink said that pay-TV outlets are low risk as their contracts are normally business-to-business, and longer term. “Even for consumers, pay-TV is very, very economical, because it is almost like a Marxist principle – everyone pays for everything and you just use what you want to use.”

Heijink said that Viasat’s share is up more than 30% year-on-year with an average viewing time spent of 79 minutes per day. Heijink was of the opinion that free TV would suffer because they are ad sales funded. She said that streamers would also suffer because, in the event of a recession, a monthly outlay of €9-€10  ($10.50-$11.50) would pinch, especially in Central and Eastern Europe.

Mipcom Online Plus runs Oct. 5-Nov.17, Mipcom takes place over Oct. 12-16.