Co-productions between producers based in different areas of the world were under the spotlight at this year's Mip TV, which took place in Cannes from the 3-6 April.
Distributors and producers were talking up the globalisation of the TV business: a market where national and linguistic boundaries are less of an obstacle, and they are likely to diminish in importance even more in the next few years. Programming buyers who converge on Cannes every year are increasingly more keen on content with international appeal, regardless of language or their geographical setting. This does not mean that local identity is dead: programmes in languages other than English where actors speak in their own language are no longer non-sellers, but may actually identify them as high end, quality dramas (Narcos from Netflix, Gomorrah produced by Sky Italia and Deutschland 83 from FremantleMedia).
While there is no question that TV programmes (especially drama) produced in English-speaking countries is still rising high, other industries are emerging as important originators and exporters of programming. This was highlighted in one conference session, where Eurodata TV presented research showing that programming imported from other countries accounted for 30% of scripted programming airtime worldwide in 2016. Turkish programming accounted for 25% of the total, Russia 15%, India 11%, with US programming accounting for only 7%. (This is of course a measure of airtime, not audiences or, importantly, the level of licence fees). Turkish producers have emerged at the forefront of global drama production. Chilean broadcaster Mega and Turkey's Kanal D announced an agreement to co-produce a Turkish telenovela for the Chilean market. Latin America is traditionally considered the home of soap operas, where local producers used to be unchallenged kings.
Over-the-top platforms Netflix and Amazon are also key players in this trend of globalisation, with both now serving subscribers in nearly every country worldwide. Roy Price, Vice President of Amazon Studios, spoke at the conference about how the US-based group is producing an increasing amount of original programming in London, Japan and India. Amazon has also innovated in the way it decides on which original programmes to finance: the most common evaluation matrices – number of views, drop off rate and the percentage of pilots viewed – are taken into consideration as much as an assessments on the quality of the content.
New technologies – especially Virtual Reality – were also much in evidence at this year's event. US production company Storytech Immersive presented My Brother's Keeper, a drama about the American Civil War including a 360 degree battlefield view.
According to organisers Reed Midem, there were 10,500 delegates at Mip TV. October's Mipcom - in part due to its timing at the beginning of the US network season - has become the bigger of the two international TV markets, with an attendance of 14,000.