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Endemol CEO views partnerships and innovation as economic panacea

Endemol chairman and CEO Ynon Kreiz promised partnership and innovation Monday during the opening keynote of this year's MIPTV confab, telling delegates that the global producer-distributor of such shows as "Deal or No Deal" and "Wipeout" will put hard cash into creativity to ride out the economic gloom.

"We're also hurting, we're also humbled — we're not saying to anyone that we're insulated from the crisis," he told reporters after the keynote. "But in spite of that, we're optimistic, and we think we have the creative assets to survive."

His buoyant address included a 3-D holographic projection and culminated in an animation lightheartedly showing the company launching its global hit "Big Brother" on the moon.

Kreiz said Endemol will invest an additional €15 million ($19.8 million) this year in its creative development process and is working to develop creativity on the local and global levels.

"It's counterintuitive in this climate, when everybody is cutting, to make an investment on that scale, but we believe that it will build our creative strength," he said.

Citing the economic tsunami that has hit the TV business, Kreiz said the company is engineering its productions to be cost-effective, then launching shows globally if they prove successful locally.

For "Wipeout," an action obstacle-course show ABC has picked up for a second season, he said Endemol built the set in Argentina, then used it to shoot back-to-back local versions for various markets.

The company hopes to use a similar approach to bring down its drama-production costs, Kreiz added.

"We're looking at ways to do exactly what we have done with 'Wipeout' in the drama space by building centralized production hubs and amortizing the cost of the show," he said. "Obviously, you need to have enough scale and enough markets interested."

Drama accounts for 15% of Endemol's revenue, but with a new focus and the addition of recently acquired Australian producer Southern Star, that figure is set to rise during the coming year. (partialdiff)