Peter Langenberg, the newly appointed COO of Banijay following the Endemol Shine takeover, will be ramping up the company’s content strategy in key territories, notably in Benelux, Germany and India.
In Benelux, where Banijay just bowed the new label SimpleZodiak, a merger of Simple Media and Zodiac Nederland, the company is developing a packed slate of shows under the new leadership of Peter Lubbers, who was tapped as CEO of Banijay Benelux, the new umbrella spanning the region and its production activities stemming from nine labels.
The Benelux slate includes the gameshow “The Road to a Million”; immersive reality show “Next E-Talent,” produced for the streaming service Videoland; “Doodstil,” a drama mini-series that’s a spin-off of the hit Dutch thriller “Penoza: The Final Chapter”; web series “Hunted VIP’s”; and the documentary series “Human Playground,” about sport, culture and tradition.
“We are already well-established in Benelux as we’re present at all levels with the streamers and the broadcasters, and we’re really focused on our core business, which is to create new IP,” said Lubbers.
Two in-demand programming areas in Benelux, he says, are reality adventure shows and documentaries. “There’s an urge for bigger reality shows — especially reality adventure shows — and streamers are looking for good documentaries such as personality-driven documentaries,” said the executive.
The Benelux umbrella is also launching a marketing agency for influencers whose working title is Blockbuster Media. The company will bring together former cast members from Banijay programs as well as influencers from third-party shows.
In Israel, where the company boasts one key label, Endemol Shine Israel, Banijay is looking to expand its client roster from stalwart Reshet. “Israel is quite small but it’s one of these countries where more and more IP is being developed,” said Langenberg. On the scripted side, the company has delivered shows like “Hostages,” and most recently “Valley of Tears,” Israel’s biggest-budget TV series to date, depicting the 1973 Yom Kippur War. The series recently sold into HBO Max.
“Israeli writers are in high demand in the U.K. and U.S. and we’re looking to tap into this great talent pool and produce our own formats there,” said the executive, adding that Banijay was also interested in co-producing Israeli content with international platforms.
In India, where Banijay runs two labels under Deepak Dhar (Banijay Asia) and Abhishek Rege (Endemol Shine India), the company is developing an Indian adaptation of “Call My Agent” for Discovery, with Soni Razdan and Rajat Kapoor; as well as “Into the Wild with Bear Grylls” from Banijay Asia. The company is also developing an adaptation of the novel “You Beneath Your Skin.”
“India is a fast-growing territory and we’re interested in striking new partnerships with talent rather than acquiring a new company,” said Langenberg. He said the company was in talks with a famous Indian comedy star to produce content. Producing scripted in India, said Langenberg, was easier than in other territories because “Bollywood has created a factory… you can pitch a scripted show and have it produced in 9 or 10 months.”
Elsewhere, Germany is also becoming increasingly interesting for IP creation. “Germany has traditionally been a taker and it’s now becoming a giver. In the last years, they have developed IP that has traveled,” said Langenberg, who cited “The Bounce” and “Have I Called You Babe” as shows that have been picked up in other territories.
In Germany, “collaboration with talent is at the heart of our strategy,” said Langenberg, who mentioned a partnership with German-Canadian star Luke Mockridge, a local comedic talent.
In the U.K. where Banijay has a portfolio of 29 labels, Langenberg said the company isn’t expecting to grow its footprint further. The banner has a packed slate to feed not only streamers but also broadcasters looking for shows that are being produced outside of London, Bristol and Manchester, among others. “Our strategy in the U.K. is to create IP because we are able to have them travel everywhere,” said Langenberg.
The company’s new U.K. titles include “The Rig,” a supernatural six-part thriller for Amazon directed by John Strickland (“Bodyguard,” “Line of Duty”); “The Sixth Commandment,” a true crime mini-series for BBC One exploring the death of Peter Farquhar in what have become known as the Maids Moreton murders; and “Two Tone”, which is developed by Kudos with “Peaky Blinders” writer Steven Knight.
The company’s U.K. slate of returning shows includes “MasterChef: The Professionals,” “House of Games,” season six of “Ambulance” and season two of “The Wall.”