MIPCOM 2012: Norway's TV2 Chief on What TV Show Buyers Want

2:27 PM PST 10/10/2012 by Elizabeth Guider

John Ranelagh says that CBS has consistently come up with reliably and broadly appealing shows that rate well, last long -- and travel.

There's a lot riding on what TV show buyers want. Just ask John Ranelagh, program chief for Norway's TV2.

"Why do you think Armando Nunez got that promotion? Because of all the money he's minted for CBS off the backs of us lot."

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Ranelagh's compliment to Nunez, and his parent company CBS, showed the breadth of the shows they've managed variously to produce, air, and distribute internationally over the last decade. Ranelagh's point during Wednesday's Mipcom panel was that CBS as the number one network, and as a producer largely for said web, has consistently come up with reliably and broadly appealing shows that rate well, last long -- and travel.

Nunez is the president of CBS Studios Intl. and was responsible for licensing the juggernaut CSI and NCIS franchises abroad as well as series like Hawaii 5-O, The Good Wife, Blue Bloods and Beauty and the Beast. (He was recently promoted and will take the reins of CBS's domestic sales operation as well.)

Not that the panel was all about how indispensable and indomitable U.S.. shows are in the international market. Some work and some don't. Some overseas folks need bulk, some much less. Some prefer mainstream commercial series; others pride themselves on airing edgy offbeat fare.

Britain's Channel 4 head of acquisitions Gill Hay said it was great to be able in her territory to "cherrypick" from what's produced in the States each season since so much gets axed early on in the U.S. -- and Britain produces so much of its own content. "It's the sensible model for us in the U.K.," she told attendees.

Both the Canadian buyer, Rogers EVP Malcolm Dunlop and the Aussie buyer, Ten's Beverly McGarvey, are in the business of licensing considerable numbers of U.S. shows each season.  

"The good news is we know what we're getting," said McGarvey, whose net has several ongoing output arrangements with the Hollywood majors. She also said edgy fare as well as comedies from the States are working quite well Down Under.  

One somber note.

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Ranelagh believes that the growing practise by young consumers in Europe (and elsewhere) of accessing content online (outright pirating or through services like Netflix and others) could eventually undermine the linear broadcast model of his station and other European broadcasters.

If program suppliers can go direct to consumers and get paid (decently and) directly by them for their shows, "our whole acquisitions business model will eventually collapse," he opined.

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