Kate Bulkley, Media Analyst.

Digital world arrives at MipTV

By Kate Bulkley

Broadcast News

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For Broadcast April 10, 2014

MipTV felt a bit different this week, compared with even a year ago.

The halls seemed a bit quieter than usual, perhaps because the May screenings in LA are only a matter of weeks away, but there were non-traditional TV deals aplenty.

There were also lots of people who don’t talk the ‘normal’ language of TV, discussing what we are increasingly calling ‘video content’.

The Mip Digital Fronts, which showcase online originals, were a major talking point as YouTube was joined by Daily Motion (France’s answer to YouTube), Vice Media, Maker Studios (purchased by Disney for $500m), Amazon Studios and Collective Digital Studio (CDS). The latter is a US manager of YouTube channels that recently attracted investment from Germany’s ProSeibenSat1 and its production unit Red Arrow Entertainment.

The online and TV worlds are certainly coming closer together, but they’re not on the same page yet.

When Vice Media chief creative officer Eddy Moretti was asked how long the episodes are for new online food channel Munchies, he replied: “We don’t really think about it like that. It’s as long as it needs to be to tell the story.”

Munchies is a 50/50 joint venture with Fremantle Media, so you can bet its content will be repackaged to fit TV schedules – and to deal with its post-watershed issues. One show, fronted by rapper-turned-chef Action Bronson, is called F*ck, That’s Delicious.

The team behind Bosch, a crime drama based on Michael Connelly’s books, have found the different approach of the online players refreshing. Amazon Studios commissioned a pilot of Bosch (pictured) for its Instant Video service from Red Arrow’s US indie Fabrik Entertainment. It received more than 3,000 customer reviews within 24 hours, prompting the show’s lead actor Titus Welliver to call the process “oddly Marxist”.

Executive producer and Fabrik chief executive Henrik Bastin said Amazon gave Red Arrow the green light for nine more episodes just 45 days after the pilot’s launch. A “transparent process” like that is much better, he said, than the proverbial five network executives entering a dark room to take a decision.

Red Arrow chief executive Jan Frouman announced that its growing list of 15 indies, including Nerd and Endor Productions in the UK, will create more online content following its recent 20% investment in Collective Digital Studio, which has a billion views a month across 600 video channels.

Not only will Red Arrow companies have online channels on CDS but he expects increasing crossover between online shows and content produced for linear television in local territories and distributed globally by Red Arrow International.

Given that the CDS investment was sourced by ProSeibenSat1 and not Red Arrow, he also has the backing to move even faster into the digital space.

This is a game about scale and good ideas.

As Frouman said when I asked him about possible further acquisitions: “ProSiebenSat1 is a demanding parent, they expect their divisions to deliver. If you don’t start to generate some scale, you’re not really relevant to your group’s overall picture.”

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