‘The Golden Age of TV Is Now’ + Other Lessons from MIP Jr, MIPCOM

by Jennifer Needham, VIMN UK


October can only mean one thing if you’re working in the content business – a congregation of the industry’s finest as they swarm (in their thousands!) into Le Palais des Fesivals on the beautiful coastline of Cannes, South of France, for a week of pitches, proposals, presentations and panel sessions (with plenty of wining and dining for good measure!) – otherwise known as MIPCOM 2013. 

The theme of this year’s market?  “The Golden Age of TV” – a time, described by keynote speaker JEFFREY Katzenberg, Dreamworks CEO, of exponential opportunities, whereby big screen meets small screen, platform meets platform, and touch screens enable content creators and audiences alike to touch the world.

As a key player in this so-called “golden age,” Viacom International was at the market in full force with members from its expert leadership team flying in from as far as New York, Latin America, Australia and across Europe to represent the catalogue of animation, live-action and general entertainment content spanning the brand pack, as well as a handful of “must see” new additions.

Heading up her expert sales force was MIP veteran Caroline Beaton, SVP International Sales, who was joined by David Lynn, EVP VIMN UK and Kerry Taylor, GM & SVP MTV International along with a number of international brand veterans who were ready to showcase the latest and greatest that Viacom Intl has to offer.  From Nickelodeon’s latest animation PAW Patrol, to MTV’s social-reality fix Generation Cryo (and everything in between) there was a lot of ground to cover… (and we don’t just mean the line of bars and restaurants along La Croisette!)

Creating a buzz at the beginning of the week was the big reveal that MTV will be producing local versions of hit social reality show Catfish: The TV Series, to be produced in the UK, Mexico and Brazil – having also signed a format option deal in Germany.   Following the incredible interest around the show at MIPTV earlier in the year, the show’s popularity was referenced on more than one occasion in the “golden age” debate as a timely example of big screen success conceiving a small screen phenomenon.

Kick-starting the MIP Junior weekend, Nickelodeon’s Jules Borkent, SVP Content & Acquisitions, joined fellow peers from Disney and Cartoon Network on a panel to address the question on every creator’s lips, “What Do Buyers Want?” Moderated by C21 Editor in Chief, David Jenkinson, the panellists discussed the fundamental role of excellent storytelling, relatable characters, new platform opportunities, and – topping the wishlists of all three – comedy, comedy, comedy, or more neatly summed up by Jules – “Smart, Hearts, Farts” (need we say more!)

And representing Nick’s international CP business, Mark Kingston, GM & SVP, presented to 200+ licensees and retailers a turtle-powered case-study on the global success of Turtles one year since launch.  Moderated by Tony Listanti, Editor in Chief, License! Global and followed by Rosa Zeegers, Head of Business Development, Mattel, Mark explained how Viacom put the weight of its marketing muscle behind the hit franchise which, just one year on, has resulted in it becoming a top 10 program in key markets like Australia, Brazil, Canada and the UK.  With new product lines, the blockbuster movie courtesy of Paramount hitting the big screen in Summer 2014, and seasons 2 and 3 still to come, the four ninja brothers are showing no signs of heading back to the shadows….and, according to Mark, will be kicking butt right through to 2015 and beyond!

But that’s not all!  Hugh Baldwin, Head of Programming, Nick Australia presented his digital strategy as part of a Digital Mastermind session, PAW Patrol creator, Keith Chapman, attended the market to support the launch of the new Nick animation series, and the team wrapped up the week by announcing a raft of signed content deals in Southern Europe.

But as another MIPCOM steadily draws to a close, the local residents of Cannes can breathe a sigh of relief as peace resumes and execs head home to their respective corners of the globe.

Key takeaways from the market?

1.       The golden age of TV is now.

2.       Fight the fear:  more platforms = more demand for content.

3.       Embrace and engage: new platforms and distributors are not displacive but cumulative, creating incremental opportunities for all.

4.       No one gets a laugh like Jimmy Fallon.

5.      Never trust the weather forecast (!)

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