London-based programming executives from Viacom International Media Networks participated in the “Meet the Commissioners: Multi Channel Entertainment” panel at this year’s Media Guardian Edinburgh International Television Festival. Comedy Central UK’s Sarah Farrell, as well as MTV UK’s Steve Regan and MTV International’s Ilya Colak-Antic spoke on programming – from strategy to budget and the particulars of what programming excites them. They also gave the audience, which included producers, traders and press, an exclusive look at upcoming shows, including Comedy Central UK’s Big Bad World and MTV UK’s The Valleys.
Here are some highlights from each of the trio’s perspectives:
Sarah Farrell, Director, Development & Content, Comedy Central
Comedy Central UK is dominating the marketplace, with ratings up a massive 80 percent over the last three years. According to Farrell, the channel’s success lies in its continued push for original content, combined with a mix of cult U.S. and third-party acquisitions.
Farrell told the audience that sitcoms remain atop her shopping list and that she is looking for more single camera shows with multi-shot sensibilities. With no limit to the number of pilots she can produce each year, Farrell encouraged potential partners to watch the channel for a better understanding of what its comedy fans are looking for and urged producers to get in touch with ideas that are “laugh out loud and full of big comedy moments.”
Farrell also announced the series commission of Big Bad World, and confirmed that cast members would include Blake Harrison of the British Inbetweeners and UK small screen legends James Fleet and Caroline Quentin.
Steve Regan, Senior Editorial Director, Commissioning & Production, MTV
Geordie Shore, which pulls in a weekly 1 million viewers, is full of “laugh out loud” moments – and it’s why MTV UK’s Steve Regan believes the show has become the channel’s highest rated series ever.
“At the end of the day it’s pure entertainment,” he said. “We cast those kids because they’re witty and funny. The sense of humour of the Geordies is fantastic.”
Though MTV UK is launching the cast-led series The Valleys this fall, Regan is interested in more than reality series, and said he is seeking out comedy-based format ideas that offer scheduling flexibility.
Ilya Colak-Antic, Director, External Development, MTV International
Working in close collaboration with Regan but as part of the network’s international commissioning team, Colak-Antic explained that MTV’s 60-plus channels around the world are a successful mix of global ratings hits such as Jersey Shore and 16 and Pregnant, complemented by local, original content.
Colak-Antic conveyed to producers and smaller indies in the audience that his shop window is open for business across a wide spectrum of genres, including everything from scripted comedy, drama and observational documentaries, to animation, telenovelas and reality.
Scripted series Awkward and observational docs Young and Married and Teen Mom were cited as shining examples on the current slate, with Colak-Antic describing them as “warm, very emotional and relatable shows.”
“We hold a mirror up to our audiences’ lives and we don’t judge,” he said.