Is it even Mipcom if The Grand is closed and a legion of bamboo planters is blocking off access to a vacant Grand Palais basement? As the global TV market convened in Cannes after two pandemic-stricken years, it was initially hard to say. But despite an understated affair with fewer U.S. delegates and hardly any presence from Asia, Australia and Latin America (industry sources indicate a turnout of roughly 4,500 compared with 12,000 pre-pandemic) those who did attend got valuable face-time with key business contacts and a renewed sense of an industry quietly coming back to life.
Here are the 10 top talking points from Cannes:
Squid Game on Top
Few dared to travel to Mipcom without having seen at least a couple of episodes of Netflix’s smash hit from Korea, “Squid Game.” The show was name-dropped in virtually all content sessions, with breathless executives applauding its imagination and investment from the SVOD. Ironically, while Korea normally has a robust presence in Cannes, travel restrictions prevented most companies from attending, and the show’s overnight success caught organizers unawares, meaning sessions on the hit show were conspicuously absent.
Verdict on Canneseries
There was no “Killing Eve” nor “Years and Years” in the lineup for Mip precursor and drama festival Canneseries, which moved from its April slot to October for the second year. The highest profile U.S. presence was indeed “Nashville’s” Connie Britton who stole the show accepting Variety’s Icon Award at the opening gala. That said, Canneseries hosted some of the biggest world premieres that Europe had to offer, such as the final season of Sky Italia’s “Gomorrah,” which closed the festival Wednesday night, plus two pointedly modern takes on classics: “Around the World in 80 Days,” from Europe’s pubcaster Alliance, and RTL/Beta’s “Sisi.”
The most sought-out buyers on the Croisette weren’t the cable players or broadcasters, but the likes of Paramount Plus, NENT Group’s Viaplay and Pluto TV. Since Mipcom 2019, a wave of streamers have launched internationally, including Disney Plus, Apple TV Plus, HBO Max and Paramount Plus, and it’s these studio-backed giants — in addition to streaming stalwarts Netflix and Amazon Prime Video — that producers and distributors are most eager to work with.
Formats come back to life
Formats used to dominate Cannes, but recent years have seen a lack of big launches à la “Rising Star” or “This Time Next Year.” Executives tell Variety that the past 19 months have been about keeping existing juggernaut formats (the “Love Island’s” and “Survivor’s” of the world) afloat through the pandemic. Now, attention is finally focused on innovation and a wave of “tiny” shows (from dating in camper vans to cooking in cubicles), among others, are hitting the market.
Hybrid formats using new technological tools are becoming increasingly prevalent. One example is France 3’s “Hotel du temps,” an A.I.-powered interview show in which French presenter Thierry Ardisson interviews iconic figures like Princess Diana and Jean Gabin, who are brought to life on screen through a process called FaceRetriever created by MacGuff (“Despicable Me”). Mediawan Rights are handling sales.
Scripted series exploring dating and relationships are increasingly in demand. Weaving drama and comedy, these shows are no longer skewed mainly towards millennials but also middle-age audiences. That’s the case in series like Julie Delpy’s Netflix-Canal Plus series “On The Verge,” as well as Keshet International’s Finnish show “Pillow Talk,” Norwegian title “Porni,” and Federation Entertainment’s “Mister 8,” which picked up the top prize at Canneseries.
Race for content
Global companies are ramping up third-party acquisitions in order to feed the skyrocketing demand for content. One prominent example is France’s Newen Connect, which recently picked up nearly a dozen series from indie production companies, including the serial killer show “Polar Park” with Jean-Paul Rouve.
RTL: Early signs of a robust repositioning
Reacting to the OTT revolution, few TV players are repositioning as vigorously as Germany’s RTL Group, which in the last 25 months has quadrupled its scripted programming investment. Two early signs of its move into high-end drama were visible at Mipcom: “Sisi,” a potent mix of sex, politics, period glam, repression and a strong-willed teen Austrian empress; and Canneseries double-winner “The Allegation,” boasting a dazzling screenplay and lead performances from Babylon Berlin’s” Peter Kurth and “Gangs of London’s” Narges Rashidi. Both series will play RTL Plus, the group’s SVOD service, which launches Nov. 4.
The name of the game: IP
As of Q1 this year, one in four of all new commissions of scripted TV shows globally was an adaption (book, comic, manga, movie, blog etc.), according to Guy Bisson at Ampere Analysis. The move into high-end event series based on big IP, which cut through a crowded market to brand both producers and services, was one tonic of Mipcom, seen not only in “Around the World” and “Sisi” but also second seasons of companies’ greatest hits, such as The Mediapro Studio’s “The Head 2” out of Spain or Globo’s “Hidden Truths II” from Brazil. Hollywood has been pushing big IP for years, and international players are now joining the trend.
Your Move, MipTV
With Mipcom in the rearview mirror, the industry’s already looking ahead to April’s MipTV market. We know it’s definitely happening, but it’s going to look different: The event will be Palais-centric (no outside stands), with Mip Docs and Mip Formats (which usually take place the prior weekend) rolled into the normal Monday-through-Wednesday market. The question, however, is whether the industry cares for two Cannes TV events per year, or whether the preference moving forward is for genre- and territory-focused markets that are more targeted and cost-effective?