Endemol chief puts faith in creativity

Ynon Kreiz talks economy in MIPTV keynote

CANNES -- Endemol chairman and CEO Ynon Kreiz promised partnership and innovation at the opening keynote of this year's MIPTV, 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 current economic gloom.

"We're also hurting, we're also humbled, we're not saying to anyone that we're insulated from the crisis, but in spite of that we're optimistic and we think we have the creative assets to survive," he told reporters after a buoyant keynote that 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 on its creative development process, and is working to develop creativity both at a local and global level.

"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," Kreiz said.

Citing the economic tsunami that has hit the TV biz, Kreiz said that the global producer is engineering its productions to be cost effective and then launching shows globally, if they have proved successful at a local level.

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

Endemol is looking at ways to bring a similar approach and bring down the costs of drama production, Kreiz said.

"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 makes up 15% of Endemol's revenue, but with new focus and the addition of recently acquired Australian producer Southern Star, that tally is set to rise in the coming year.