Industry veteran Cathy Payne, former CEO of Endemol Shine, and currently CEO of Banijay Rights, is optimistic about production returning to normal in 2021. But she says the restart should have a pragmatic, COVID-safe approach.
Speaking at the Asian Television Forum, part of the Singapore Media Festival, on Tuesday, Payne said that the Indian version of “Big Brother,” “Bigg Boss,” hosted by Bollywood superstar Salman Khan, is currently filming and “Peaky Blinders”-creator Steven Knight’s adaptation of best-selling book “SAS: Rogue Heroes” for BBC One is in the works.
“All these productions have a lot of COVID protocols built in at every stage from pre-production to filming to post,” Payne said. “Maybe there’ll be changes that saves some time, but we don’t know yet. So everyone’s being pragmatic in the way they schedule, which is how they should be. But definitely, everybody wants to get back into production.”
Banijay closed its $2.2 billion takeover of Endemol Shine earlier this year, making the merged entity the largest independent production player outside the U.S. The group’s IP includes “Survivor,” “MasterChef,” “Temptation Island,” “Mr Bean,” “Peaky Blinders” and “Big Brother.”
Local versions of “MasterChef” are also in production in Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, Payne said, with “Big Brother” set to return in the Philippines. “We have been able to get those productions back in,” Payne said. “And of course, Asia, in the wider context, we have Australia and New Zealand where we have many different productions at different stages.”
The “Survivor” format had some Asian versions, notably in Japan, Philippines, Pakistan, and India, but none in recent years. “We hope to see more versions of ‘Survivor,’ back in Asia,” Payne said. “It’s one of our big goals.”
Going forward, Payne identifies the Asian growth markets for Banijay as countries with large population bases like India, Indonesia and the Philippines, followed by Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and Korea.
“Every market is important, so we do (different kinds of) deals in markets,” Payne said. “So it might be Myanmar or in Sri Lanka. You’re looking at some format licensing in there or Mongolia, but you just have to balance them and think what programs do we have, and that talks about scalability format. What shows can be made on a production basis that they can afford.”
Payne was in conversation with Simon Murray, principal analyst, Digital TV Research Ltd.