MIPCOM: Market 'Thriving' as Digital Content Drives Deals

Jeffrey Katzenberg was Personality of the Year at Mipcom 2013.

Despite ongoing problems in Southern Europe, it was a record year for the international TV market.

"Thriving" is the word Mipcom organizers used to describe the just wrapped four-day market which unspooled in Cannes with record attendance, more stars and premiere screenings than ever, and deals and partnerships that do indeed suggest business on most fronts is robust -- with a pace that's quickening.

Whatever the lingering economic woes in southern Europe, the proliferation of multi-screen, mobile, digitized content has injected new energy into the sector -- and is raising the bar on quality and quantity. Drama series have probably never looked this good -- or come from this many sources -- which means that Hollywood output may, eventually, have a little competition for choice primetime slots on major platforms around the world.

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The market could also be seen as a coming-out party for several territories and regions which are stepping up their game on both the production and the distribution side: Argentina, which received a special focus, fielded some 250 delegates, and talked up its telenovelas and other new product; Turkey, whose scripted series show signs of catching on in the West as they have in the Middle East and Central Asia; and Africa, which is coming into its own with viable production hubs in Nigeria and South Africa.

At a press conference Thursday morning, Reed Midem TV managing director Laurine Garaude cited three trends which contributed to her belief that the biz has entered "a new golden age."

"Given what we've seen this week, the industry has becoming more international in scope and partnerships; the acceleration of digital has boosted the quality; and quantity of content and links between the film and TV industries are strengthening."

DreamWorks Animation CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg, the recipient of the market's Personality of the Year award, is "emblematic," she said of these trends.

During his keynote address Wednesday the DreamWorks executive seemed to have captured the mood on the Croisette. "I don't think there's ever been a time filled with so much new opportunity for the world of television."

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The stats reinforced the perception. A record 13,500 delegates from 100 countries participated in the sales bazaar; of these, a record 4,623 buyers were registered, of which 1000 weighed in as digital buyers. New pavilions outside the Palais convention hall proper popped up this year to house burgeoning contingents of buyers and sellers from not only Argentina, but China, India, and Russia.

Among the plethora of deals that came to light:

Disney engineered an arrangement in China for its new series Marvel's Agents of SHIELD to appear on several of that country's online platforms.

Starz inked licensing deals for its latest drama series Black Sails, including pacts in Germany, France, Canada, Israel and Latin America.

Fremantle unveiled a multi-year digital agreement with Chinese-based portal Youku for nonscripted shows like American Idol and The X-Factor.

CBS and RTL, partners in a joint venture channel in Asia, expanded carriage arrangements to Singapore and elsewhere.

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French distributor Newen inked a deal in the States for a remake of its drama series The Source.

The Weinstein Company, returning to the market for the second year, hopped aboard the BBC event mini-series War and Peace as a co-partner.

In a new development, the Reed Midem organizers said that they will inaugurate a Digital Fronts at next April's Mip market. "It will be the first international marketplace where original content for online web channels and app-based/OTT streaming video platforms will be traded," Garaude said.

Finally, during the press event, Garaude revealed that Mexico would be next year's spotlighted country, another indication of the growing international resonance of Latin American product, as well as opportunities for media development in that region.

The CEO of the ProMexico business board, Francisco Gonzalez, told the assembled reporters that, among other upcoming incentives, the country would soon set up an urban "digital media cluster" in Quadelahara.

"We're living in a revolution and the media gravity is shifting," he said.