A fleeting analysis of responses to our MIP-TV poll might seem a little anti-climactic, even remarkably obvious. Conventional wisdom says that if you ask a bunch of producers and distributors which international regions are most important to them, of course they’ll trot out the United States, the u.k. and France, naming Discovery, C4 and Canal+ as the must-have broadcasters. The interesting nugget in this particular vein of data, made all the more meaningful by recent laments about vertical integration of broadcasters pushing out the little guys, is that Discovery – the unchallenged master of omnipresence – is still the big cheese for most prodcos and distributors.
The more interesting results, however, are found a couple of steps down the pecking order. For example, having the whole globe from which to choose, one respondent named tiny Benelux as one of the five most important territories for their business. The lesson being, we assume, that the new world order for broadcasting brings with it some unexpected possibilities. Other surprising territories to watch, as named by those polled, were Korea and Italy.
But what’s most telling was the consensus of respondents that chaos is good. There’s not enough of it, even.
In light of vast and binding agreements between some of the industry’s biggest and most dominant players (like the mammoth deal closed at press-time between the bbc and dci), producers and sellers worry that allegiances at the top will effectively close any windows which might have been opened to them by the host of new services expected to roll out of these deals. Even National Geographic Channel – a joint venture with nbc and News Corp’s BSkyB, and another example of big names getting into bed together – has gone on record as saying it plans to turn its distribution partners into joint-venture partners with a stake in the channel. The ability of sellers to play broadcasters off one another to wrangle a better license fee is eroding; some would even say it’s gone. Unless they happen to have rounded up enough cash independently to have the hottest title out there, and haven’t already signed on the dotted line with anyone.
So we’re left with distributors and producers wistful for the days when the biggest players weren’t quite so cozy with each other, and eyeing closely those regions still to be tagged by a dominant service or services. With the top dogs picking sides to form even bigger and more powerful teams, it’s little wonder some sellers are opting to try turning a buck in Benelux.