The one rule of the international television market is, there are no rules. The U.S. studios, international broadcasters and independent producers that will swarm to Cannes this year for MIPCOM face a global TV industry diverse and volatile. An explosion of digital and online channels has meant more buyers for even the most niche drama series, but that very fragmentation also has made it even harder to score the type of broad global hits that used to be the drivers of the business. "We're finding fewer and fewer network shows that translate for our audience. The crime procedurals, the legal dramas, these aren't working for us," says Jay Hunt, chief creative officer at Channel 4 in the U.K. "At the same time, we're finding we share a similar taste palate with the American cable networks."
It's fitting that Shonda Rhimes, one of the few U.S. producers who continues to turn out network shows that travel worldwide, has been named MIPCOM 2016 Personality of the Year. Rhimes also has a thing or two to teach global broadcasters on the issue of on- and offscreen diversity, something the international industry is only beginning to address (and will be discussing at MIPCOM's inaugural Diversity Summit this year).
Rhimes and Shondaland aside, sure things are a rarity in TV these days. Old models for making and selling series also are breaking apart as binge-watching and online streaming replace primetime-scheduled water-cooler TV. THR's hot list of the best new dramas at this year's market includes studio-backed shows made in Europe, international series packed with Hollywood talent and a couple of foreign-language dramas out to prove, again, that subtitles need not be a barrier to global success.