The best of the world’s filmmakers, producers, broadcasters and distributors will be at MIPTV Cannes next month to buy, sell and view new TV content. In an exclusive interview with Vijaya Cherian, MIPTV’s Ted Baracos and Bassil Hajjar speak about what’s in store this year and trending topics What will MIPTV offer this year that […]
The best of the world’s filmmakers, producers, broadcasters and distributors will be at MIPTV Cannes next month to buy, sell and view new TV content. In an exclusive interview with Vijaya Cherian, MIPTV’s Ted Baracos and Bassil Hajjar speak about what’s in store this year and trending topics
What will MIPTV offer this year that may perhaps be different from the other years?
As the worlds largest TV market in the first half of the year, the newness at MIPTV is always reflected in the new content that comes into the market. For example, at the MIPDoc screening event, 70-80% of the documentary library will be made up of new releases.
Also, a focal point in showcasing fresh new content, is reflected in MIPTVs World Premier Screening. This year, MIPTV has secured an exclusive preview of STARZ’s original drama series Power. The screening on April 7 will be followed by an on-stage conversation with Executive Producer Curtis 50 Cent Jackson, along with the series lead actor Omari Hardwick and creator Courtney Kemp Agboh.
However, something that is really different in this years MIPTV programme at MIPTV 2014 will be the MIP Digital Fronts the first ever international showcase of original work online, launched in partnership with YouTube. MIP Digital Fronts is a major initiative to provide content buyers, distributors, advertisers, producers, strategists and press from around the world the opportunity to discover the most exciting new online productions. Up to five screening sessions will take place during MIPTV. Each session will be dedicated to a single platforms strongest line-up of new online video content. The key creative executives/talent behind the productions will be invited by the platform to present during the session, helping to grow their business exposure to the international television industry.
You mentioned recently that there was greater interest in dramas than films last year. Can you elaborate a bit on some of the buying trends among broadcasters and the interests you see at MIPTV?
The success of drama series has clearly set a buying trend, and to such an extent that even major film studios, such as Lionsgate, The Weinstein Company and DreamWorks are entering the market with TV drama productions and a significant presence at MIPTV. In a number of territories, terrestrial broadcasters are reducing the air time given to film in favour of drama series which are extremely popular among audiences and thus with advertisers (a case in point is the popularity of Turkish drama series in the Middle East).
Where do you see content creation headed?
Story telling has been around as long as there have been people on the earth, but how the story is told is always evolving. Content creation is a reflection of the societies we live in and thus will continue to change as our values and perception of the world evolves.
In recent years, we have seen huge leaps in production value special effects, computer-generated imagery, and resolution which means greater visual quality for audience. The advent of 4K ultra-high definition television is an example of how technology is affecting content creation a trend which will be highlighted at MIPTV through a series of 4K conferences and screenings. Scripted television is also continually being changed by new forms of narrative structure, and character casting. The result is exciting new programmes, which are so different from what was being produced even just a few years ago.
Can you share some statistics with us that indicate the current TV trends?
Television is still growing with the average daily viewing time now at 3 hours 17 minutes per individual (increase of 21 minutes over the last 10 years).
Between 2012 and 2013, the average daily viewing time in the Middle East grew the most (+4h:55) while the UK decreased by 9 minutes to 3h:52.
Are the boundaries between creativity and technology blurring just as we see in films with new platforms and technologies?
One of the reasons MIPTV is launching the MIP Digital Fronts is to showcase the new creativity, which is now being produced in the form of online video, often made with much lower budgets than traditional TV. Youth audiences are particularly attracted to online video series which are being created by a totally new generation of storytellers. They are producing uniquely for the Internet with content that can become viral in a very short time. YouTube, which accounts for nearly half of online video, is a founding partner of MIP Digital Fronts, and will be presenting their latest online hits in Cannes along with the talent who are producing them.
Could you name some key topics at MIPTV that would be of interest to filmmakers and broadcasters?
Online video, but also sessions dedicated to co-production, branded entertainment, as well as an entire conference track called MIPCube that is dedicated to digital innovation and new forms of audience engagement.
What level of interest do you receive from the Middle East every year?
There will be well over 200 delegates from the Middle East attending MIPTV; many of whom, we believe will be interested to understand the growing success of online video. 100 million Arabs will be online by 2015, yet only 1% of web sites are Arabic a great opportunity for growth!
I see you have a session on 4K. What do you see as the main driver for 4K adoption?
4K ultra high-definition television is happening, although like any new technology introduction, it will take a multi-year cycle to become as ubiquitous as standard HD is today.
Sky Deutschland and Sky Perfect (Japan) are currently conducting broadcast tests, and like with standard HD, sports will be a major driver. However, content is always a key driver, and more and more studios are now filming in 4K. Fashion TV, one of the pioneers in standard HD broadcasting, recently has decided to shoot entirely in 4K starting this year.
The showcases of new 4K content at MIPTV will show just how spectacular the experience can be. A four-day programme of 4K content screenings and conferences will run throughout MIPTV at a dedicated 4K THEATRE, created in partnership with Sony and located in the main exhibition area.
Consumers today have the choice of viewing content on various platforms. How should content owners and producers reinvent themselves to make the most of this opportunity?
One set of initiatives undertaken by content providers to stay relevant to changing audience requirements is to develop applications for second screen devices. With broadcasters increasingly looking to companion applications to retain the attention of the consumer and drive content engagement, TV producers will need to include a second-screen proposition for any new programme commissions.
Mobile devices and tablets are also contributing to the social conversation or what is commonly called Social TV, which allows for interactivity and chats during the transmission of a TV show. Broadcasters will likely seek to maintain control of the second screen during air time and its monetisation, but will increasingly look to content providers to create the ideas for interactivity as part of drama or murder mystery.
Whats the next best thing on TV after reality shows?
It may well be another unscripted TV format. The top 50 European formats generated a value of $2 billion last year and well over $800 million was produced by just five UK originated properties: Come Dine with Me, The Money Drop, Who wants to be a Millionaire, Dancing with the Stars, and Got Talent. The Got Talent franchise has become the worlds most successful format hit now being produced in more than 75 countries.
Middle East update
This year, at MIPTV, we have something special from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Saudi Broadcasting Corporation and Gulf Radio and TV Organisation are sharing a pavilion, where they will allow other independent producers from KSA to participate at very encouraging rates.
In addition, Rotana Channels also has a stand for the first time and will bring along some special highlights from the region in which they operate.
We have three main exhibitors from the UAE including MBC/03 Productions, Twofour54 and Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF). We will repeat our partnership with DIFF, whereby some of the chosen films from DIFF 2013 will be showcased at a dedicated stand for this purpose.
From Qatar, we have Al Jazeera Media Network and Al Jazeera Childrens Channel hosting two large stands alongside each other.
From the independent market, we have Cedars Art Production from Lebanon participating with a stand for the first time to showcase, promote and potentially sell their Arabic Drama production to other international markets.