Lower Studio Presence Raises Fears About MipTV Future

A reduced studio presence at this year's MipTV has raised fears that the international TV market could be heading for a NATPE-style collapse.

 

CANNES -- A reduced studio presence at this year's MipTV has raised fears that the venerable international TV market could be heading for a NATPE-style collapse.

The U.S. studios are the supertankers that drive the global TV business -- their big budget series and Hollywood blockbusters draw top-notch buyers from around the world. Following in that slipstream are the independents, the off-network producers, the niche, cable and digital channels.

But this year, the majors have cut back, many sent skeleton crews to MipTV while their A-teams stayed home to prepare for the L.A. Screenings next month.

Fox Television Studios essentially gave MipTV a pass, sending just one registered delegate to the market. A number of Warner execs worked out of the studio's U.K. production subsidiary Shed and Sony did the same, piggybacking on the stand of its U.K. outfit TwoWayTraffic.

“Studios are the main drivers of any market. The U.S. majors drive clients to attend and that benefits the smaller companies, the independents that also come,” said Armando Nunez Jr., president of CBS Studios International. Nunez added that if the majors continue to stay away from MipTV it could “affect the whole dynamic of the market...This has happened before, look at NATPE.”

Attendees worry MipTV could be heading for a tipping point. If the studios stay away and bigger international buyers follow, the April market goes from being a must-attend to a questionable entry in the expense column.

“It's an issue for us,” said a top exec at a major international distributor. “If this continues, we will be pressing (MipTV organizer) Reed Midem to renegotiate their package fees because we don't think we should pay as much if the caliber of buyers is less.”

The timing of MipTV has always made it a troublesome market for the studios, who are focused on wheeling out their brand new lineup at the L.A. Screenings in May. For the big four, the MIPCOM market in October is the prime focus.

But despite tell-tale signs of a slow market -- the half-empty hotel lobbies, the no-reservation-required restaurants and unexpected delegate-upgrades- organizers maintained that MipTV is in no danger.

“The U.S. studios are very important for us, no question but we are very international,” said Anne de Kerckhove, director of Reed Midem's entertainment division. “We aren't NATPE. 60 - 70 percent of our attendees are from Europe. Asia is showing double digit growth. BBC is stronger than ever at this market. So while the major networks are important to us, they aren't the only ones.”

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