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MIPCOM in the Cannes for 2009

MIPCOM numbers were down a little on last year, but considerably improved from the MIPTV market earlier in the year, and 12,000 people swilling around the Palais still makes a fair amount of mess.

Ironically, the country that caused the global meltdown is the one benefitting most from its fallout, at least in TV programme sales. Buyers from countries unable or unwilling to commission in the present climate have turned to tried and tested product for high-cost programming and the largest amount of that is available from the US.

American distributors reported increased sales of drama. One senior US distribution executive said, “Recession is good business. The acquisitions equation makes sense for buyers. What we do is much more efficient and low-cost than funding an original drama production, which in any case could still fail.”

Cheaper fare, especially factual and factual entertainment, generally performed well at the market in terms of volume, although there was reportedly more haggling on price than usual.

The sellers said, “You can’t afford to commission; you need to acquire.” The buyers said, “We’ve got no money either way!” Both were right, but deals were done regardless.

Co-production is the new black, as commissioners and producers look to share the risk of creating content that meets viewers expectations of quality. NZ has co-production treaties with Australia, Canada, France, United Kingdom, Italy, Singapore, Germany, Ireland and Spain, plus a (currently) film-only treaty with Korea.

In dealing news, Australia’s ABC Commercial, which sold Pukeko Pictures’ The WotWots, 52 x 10 minutes, to Five UK in March this year, has now extended the deal to include DVD rights for the territory.

The WotWots comes from the fertile partnership between Martin Baynton and Weta which previously created the award-winning and much-exported Jane and The Dragon.

In contrast to the other Kiwi-related MIPCOM deals announced so far, which have all been about product coming into the country, All3Media has done a licensing deal with SBS Denmark to sell a bit of Kiwi product – Cream Media’s Border Patrol and Coastwatch, both screened here through TVNZ.

Tina Moreton, SBS Denmark’s head of acquisitions, described Border Patrol and Coastwatch, both five seasons of 10 x 30 minutes, as “perfect for our male channel [6’ern].”

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