2021’s totally online NATPE Virtual Miami is just but half over. Some inkling of how it might shape out, however, is fast falling into place.
Basically, streaming stole the show. Yes, Fox did announce during NATPE that the Jay Leno-hosted “You Bet Your Life” reboot, bowing this fall, has sold in 85% of the U.S. Yet a once annual launchpad for shows seeking U.S. syndication was dominated this time round by the seismic pivot of Hollywood’s majors and other players into global VOD platforms, and the impact of this tectonic shunt on the industry at large.
Dominating NATPE-related business announcements and online panel discussions, that impact is inevitable.
But it didn’t always play out in the most obvious fashion.
Following, six – somewhat provisional – takeaways from this year’s NATPE Miami, focused on its international business:
The Big Swings
During NATPE, Paramount Plus set a March 4 launch date for the U.S. and Latin America. WarnerMedia announced leadership teams for HBO Max Latin America and HBO Max EMEA. Disney Plus unveiled its first Spanish original, “Besos al aire,” starring Paco León and Leonor Watling. Whether the timing of those announcements had anything to do with NATPE Miami is another matter.
Yet as many U.S. studios hold back ever more of their flagship shows for their own OTT platforms, the running at major TV markets, in terms of major news announcements at least, is increasingly made by U.S. powerhouses still co-producing and selling on the open market – ViacomCBS International Studios, Telemundo Global Studios – and a new aristocracy of overseas Super Indies, as Ampere Analysis calls them. That pattern was already visible at October’s Mipcom. NATPE proved no exception.
NATPE Miami 2021 Biz: Some Major Announcements
*VIS unveiled an early 2021 development slate led, of new titles, by CBS Studios co-produced period action heist thriller “Electric Years,” true crime procedural “The Gold,” from Neil Forsyth; and TV movie spin-off “A Very Kally’s Birthday,” written by Peter Barsocchini (“High School Musical”) and Adam Anders (“Glee”).
*The Mediapro Studio announced a drive into English-language production, partnering with John Turturro in the U.S., and “Casualty” writers Jeremy Brock and Paul Unwin, producer Big Talk and Guillem Morales on three series in the U.K.
*Telemundo Global Studios confirmed that “El Marginal” will have a fourth and fifth season, and a U.S. LatinX remake of “Diarios de un Gigolo.”
*Fremantle company The Immigrant sketched first talent relations, as Fremantle Latin America talked about powering up its gameshow format remakes in Argentina.
*ITV Studios confirmed a 400-hour program sales to fast-building Brazilian SVOD service Globoplay which, said parent Globo, intends to roll out this year in Europe.
Nobody’s talking about peak TV when it comes to the creation of local content in international markets. VIS, for example, has 140 projects in development, aiming to scale up in key markets such as the U.K. and Spain, creating “content pods,” delivering economies of scale and taking advantage of tax incentives, VIS president J.C. Acosta said in a NATPE Miami keynote. Scale also allows companies to cross collaterize across broad portfolios, reducing risk, Acosta recognized. Sky, now bereft of HBO Originals, announced on Monday that it will roll out 125 original films and TV shows in 2021. Powering this drive for scale is the exponential rise in demand for content in a new streaming universe. Even when companies still sell banner titles territory by territory, their buyers are now as often as not global, regional or national SVOD services, as is the case on The Mediapro Studio’s “The Head,” an HBO Max U.S. pickup.
Production Value, Not Volume
Horses for different courses. For select European national champions that have scaled up in their home territories some years ago, the main mantra is now production value, not production volume. One trend in Europe, Françoise Guyonnet, Studiocanal executive managing director of TV, told Variety during NATPE Miami, is “the creation of European content with high production values, large budgets and the potential to travel globally,” she said, citing Studiocanal’s own “War of the Worlds,” “Shadowplay” and “ZeroZeroZero.” A flagship new Studiocanal title at Natpe Miami, “Paris Police 1900,” a potential Belle Epoque Noir franchise, is another noteworthy example of big event production out of Europe.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging in the U.S. and many parts of the world, companies were diplomatic about upbeat forecasts on their business future. An underswell of mid-term optimism fueled dealings, announcements and discussions, however. “How many streamers did you have? How many streamers do you have today? HBO Max, for example, has broken into the market. That’s the biggest change that we have seen within 2019 to 2020,” Rola Bauer, MGM president, international television production from last June, said at one panel, asking fellow speaker Christina Davis, Starz president of original programming about how many territories Starzplay is now operating in. (The answer: 58). “Expansion is happening,” said Bauer.
But the Global Platforms Won’t Have It All Their Own Way in 2021
The global platforms won’t have it all their own way this year, Omdia, a London consultancy, predicted in a NATPE Miami presentation. In 2020, by Omdia’s count, more streaming subscribers – 226 million-plus – were added to the VOD industry than at any other point in history, In contrast, in 2021, the four fastest-growing services of 2020 – Netflix, Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus, and Amazon Prime – are expected to see significant declines in net additions, said María Rua Aguete, senior research director, Omdia. Reason? The pool of potential new subscribers has been vastly reduced.
Emiliano Granada contributed to this article.