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After nearly three years of endless Zoom meetings and virtual deal making, MIPCOM Cannes is hoping to live up to its (self-anointed) title of the “mother of all entertainment content market” when it kicks off its new edition on Monday, Oct. 17.
MIPCOM held a small in-person event last year but the 2022 market will be the real test of whether the global confab can return in style, and re-establish its place at the top of the TV event food chain.
Before COVID-19 shut down in-person industry events worldwide, MIPCOM organizer RX France was already planning a major overhaul of the market, to shift it from being mainly a traditional sales event —where U.S. and international channels present their new shows to buyers worldwide — towards being a creative and networking hub for an industry where the financing, production and distribution of TV shows has becoming increasingly global.
One of the main changes this year will see the launch of the Seaview Producers Hub, a networking lounge and event space for “creators, producers, commissioners and development executives” stretching across more than 10,000-sq-feet and positioned as a new centre for cross-border co-production and development activities.
“It was something we planned [before COVID],” notes MIPCOM event director Lucy Smith, “we want to create a true destination for producers to have creative and commercial discussions to talk about partnerships.”
The bread-and-butter business of licensing deals will remain part of MIPCOM but that has become a year-round activity and is one aspect of the industry that can be efficiently done online. That fact has rocked the industry events business.
Earlier this month, the National Association of Television Program Executives (NATPE), which holds MIPCOM-like TV trade shows focused on the U.S. industry, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. NATPE has said it will restructure and still plans to hold its annual conference, in the Bahamas, on Jan. 17-19, 2023.
MIPCOM, at least, looks in ruder health. Smith estimates some 10,000 delegates from 101 countries will be in attendance in Cannes next week, including 3,000 buyers, the majority from the U.S. (China, still under major COVID restrictions, will not be sending delegates. Due to international sanctions resulting from the invasion of Ukraine, neither will Russia.) Every major global player will be there in some form, from Netflix, Amazon and Apple TV to every major studio, including Disney, Paramount and NBCUniversal —“back in full force” notes Smith — and the newly-merged Warner Bros. Discovery.
“MIPCOM is still a unique experience, the only market of this scale, where, at this one time in the calendar in October in Cannes, you can meet all the global players,” she notes.
Returning to this market after a three-year absence will be Fox with its new Fox Entertainment Global sales unit, headed up by CEO Fernando Szew. MIPCOM will be Fox Entertainment Global’s coming out party. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter before the market, Szew said the company would be offering international partners a real alternative to the siloed approach of the big studios with their in-house streaming platforms. “We don’t want to keep all our toys to ourselves,” Szew said, “we plan to be wholly agnostic and sell to everyone, partner with everyone.”
Szew noted he’ll be using MIPCOM to talk global content partnerships — Fox’s market slate includes the animated series Krapopolis, created by Dan Harmon, and Jon Hamm’s Grimsburg, both from Fox Entertainment’s animation subsidiary Bento Box Entertainment, as well as the live-action comedy Animal Control — and co-production ideas.
But a primary focus at MIPCOM, and probably the main reason many executives will be flying into Cannes, is to talk shop. Several bold faced names, including Amazon Studios head Jennifer Salke, Fremantle’s Jennifer Mullin and Andrea Scrosati, Candle Media’s Kevin Mayer and Banijay’s CEO Marco Bassetti will be on hand to present their business models and strategies in a rapidly changing market.
If things go to plan, MIPCOM Cannes 2022 will be the place where a vision of the future of the international TV industry first takes shape.
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