Content Markets and Venues: Going, Going, Where?
There are striking changes taking place at the top entertainment “markets” and knowing which events during the year to attend versus which to skip is tough. Belts are tightening notch after notch. Over-spending is no longer an option, even for the imagined “fat cats.”
No matter your budget or how you slice it, when times are tough, you tend to cut back. Think about how often you go to restaurants these days? Instead of eating out twice a week, now it’s only once a week? HALF of what you used to do? Similarly, if you attend every trade show and ratchet up expenses like the good-old-days, you may …. ah-hem… have no job when you get home!
At the recent MIPTV market in Cannes, there was a clear and present warning sign that might send late spring shivers. BOTH Sony and Disney were missing from their usual prime beach front spots in their white mega-tents. WHAT? THE MAJORS ARE PACKING UP THEIR MIP TENTS? Yikes!
If you’re not a regular market attendee, why do you care (and why should you care?) about markets? You do and you should. AND HERE’S WHY: Markets should be where the “action is.” When a mainstay market “feels light,” that’s when you see marketers’ brows crinkling with worry. Yet everyone at this year’s MIP seemed determined to keep the smiles rolling, making deals happen – as best they could in the everlasting recession. The old adage “MIPTV - where deals are done” was a faint echo heard in the corners of the behemoth Palais convention center. Also missing were sardine-packed restaurants where deal chatter used to be so easy to overhear!
Markets, conventions, festivals, they all have their “vibes” and warning signs. Last month before the MIP market began, already the rumors abounded “a lot of people aren’t going this year.” WHY NOT?
WHAT’S HAPPENING TO THE MIP MARKET?
So many, and I really honestly mean way too many, industry friends started MIP conversations by talking about the empty feeling. Market-Light. Not only animation colleagues, but friends across multiple genres, turning heads left and right, then saying, “what’s with MIP? A little weird, right? Some added, “Scary.”
Laurine Garaude, Television Division Director, Reed MIDEM, said, “Numbers are up! The number of buyers is the same, kids [kids’ industry attendees] numbers are stable, and there are 10% more producers attending than last year. With 780 registered for MIPDOC that’s an increase of 15%. MIP FORMATS had 580 participants.”
But TV industry vet and champion of the MIP market, David Ellender (CEO FremantleMedia International and Kids & Family Entertainment) saw the event a little differently. MIPTV was lighter than usual. Why? Several reasons probably. Two big studios didn’t come: there was NO Sony, and NO Disney (well, no-big-tent-on-the-beach-Disney sales presence, but same number of pre-registered Disney Media Distribution executives -18 both last year and this year at MIP). So, David pointed out, at MIP in April - Fremantle had a nice view of the beach with no immediate neighbors.
David continued to explain why attendance was probably lower. “There’re just so many industry events.” For prime time, there are the “up fronts” for new primetime series (New York, February through May), and the May Screenings (May/June, Los Angeles). For the kids business, what are the “must-attend annual events”? Per David: “Kidscreen Summit & Toy Fair” (New York in February), “Licensing Expo” (Las Vegas in June), “and MIP Junior” (October in Cannes, France).
David skipped over the Rio Content Market (RCM) which took place less than two weeks after February’s Kidscreen Summit this year. With 3,000 Rio attendees, compared to MIP’s 11,000, Rio had the relative luxury of being in a small market, which translates into longer meetings with buyers and co-producers (Rio meetings are at least an hour long vs. Cannes meetings of a half-hour). A lot of genres and sessions at the Rio event, including kids, similar to the MIPTV market in April, but about 47 years younger and 8,000 people lighter.
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION
One major result of the ongoing global economic uncertainty right now, especially in Europe – REALLY drastically reduced travel budgets. MUCH smaller acquisitions budgets [for series, movies, across all genres]. According to David, always the pragmatist, luckily, “We’re all more connected now.” Via web, we can send / provide access to screen programs!
However, all told, David still feels there’s nothing that replaces seeing buyers, in person. Face-to-face meetings are very beneficial, which is one of the reasons that FremantleMedia maintains nine offices around the world. “The frequency of meeting clients cannot be overrated.” So Ellender and his comrades will always be at MIP every year. Good to know.