MIPCOM: Mixes Business and Glamour
MIPCOM, the biggest TV market in the world, took place in Cannes, France from October 13 to 16, 2014. Hundreds of production, distribution and selling companies had their stands or booths in the Palace of Festivals on the famous Croisette Boardwalk. This year, the annual TV confab was attended by more than ten thousand professionals from all over the world.
In a departure from previous years, Reed Midem, the company that puts on the event, sought to transform the TV market into an event not unlike its very glamorous compatriot, the Cannes International Film Festival, which takes place in the same Palace. Which explains the slogan it chose for this year’s MIPCOM: “Walk the red carpet and meet the stars”.
Even with sold out exhibition space this year dozens of stars were seen walking the legendary Croisette and posing for photos. Some of those who made the trip to the French Riviera included Cuba Gooding, Lou Gosset Jr., Matt Dillon, Elisabeth Hurley, Eddie Marsan, Donald Sutherland, Tchéky Karyo and Frances O’Connor. And not unlike at the Cannes Film Festival, there were red carpets rolled out before screenings of TV pilots and stars of the shows who walked them to the usual shouts of photographers and videographers. But of course the MIPCOM is first and foremost a place for the very serious business of selling and buying content for the growing number of TV, cable and satellite platforms. Many participants also had a chance to attend daily panels in the Festival Palace’s main auditorium in which prominent authors and executives discussed the new trends in television. One of the most interesting ones to emerge this year was the internationalization of TV content which was discussed in the “Media Mastermind Keynote” with SVOD pioneer and Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. Currently Netflix has about 50 million subscribers in 50 countries, which make the company the real prototype and gold standard of international TV. Netflix not only broadcasts its content slate in English but also makes a point to order original shows in the countries in which it operates, said Sarandos. The fresh example is the TV drama series “Marseilles” shot in French, which will premier simultaneously in all countries where Netflix is available. And subscribers will have the choice to see it in French or in their native language.
The other interesting trend: European dramas dominated the market more than U.S. productions. It should be noted however that most of them are geared to satisfy the growing appetite of American TV for original content. After the success of shows like Les Révenants which was rebroadcast in the U.S. on the Sundance Channel, even the French make some of their new series in English.
Another interesting trend was reflected in the “From Cult To Mainstream Case Studies” panel with the participation of star film director M. Night Shyamalan who produced and directed the pilot for the new Fox Television Sci-Fi series Wayward Pines starring Matt Dillon. Answering the question of how the sci-fi genre gained a wider audience and mainstream acceptance on TV, Shyamalan said: “Thank the internet. With the internet the geeks were given the keys to the kingdom. They were the fringe, they became the gatekeepers”. The panel showed that wider availability of low-cost special effects combined with movie-level budgets for TV series, have undoubtedly made sci-fi accessible to wider strata of audiences as the huge success of series like American Horror Story and The Walking Dead attest only too clearly. The fact that this year’s MIPCOM coincided with announcements from both HBO and CBS of new stand-alone streaming services only reinforced the clear picture of an industry in flux, which is undergoing radical and exciting structural changes whose one constant seems to be the boundless growth in demand for quality content. In other words, a win-win situation for audiences worldwide.