While it’s hard to convince co-workers at home that you’re slaving away when it’s 80 degrees and sunny in Cannes, this year’s MIPCOM did see its fair share of wheeling and dealing. Figures released mid-market put attending companies up 12% over last market to 2,924, participants up 11% to 11,564, and buyers also up 11% to 2,815. More importantly, it was a good market for factual.
You’d have to be living under a rock not to notice the recent proliferation of formats in the world of non-fiction. Big Brother and Survival were joined by Granada’s Win Your Weight In Gold this MIP, a format pulling big numbers in Turkey – a fact celebrated by the growing U.K. entity. Disturbingly, the market saw the round-up of 24 Who Wants to be a Millionaire hosts from around the world (the format is in 77 countries, and shows to 35 million viewers in the U.S. alone). Alas, Regis Philbin could not attend.
If this MIP is any indicator, the future of docs is animated – with programs that make use of CGI proliferating. Discovery celebrated its newest ‘Watch With the World Event’ – Inside the Space Station – with a dinner sneak preview. Even the most cynical would have had a hard time picking the real from the CGI. The effort is singular enough to have convinced Sun Microsystems and BP to come on as global sponsors.
Discovery was also active on Earth, with the Travel Channel inking a deal with September International of London for the 10 x 30-minute Manhattan on the Beach (thus maintaining the important bikini quotient). The series is a behind-the-scenes look at the Hamptons. Discovery also picked up Toronto-based Ellis Entertainment’s tenth Profiles of Nature series.
German pubcaster ZDF screened the first episode of The German Gambit to a near-full house. The US$1.5 million series went to air during the market, pulling a 13.5% share in Germany on the first night. The event featured asatellite hook-up with star Sir Peter Ustinov, who did not attend the event in person, as he was recovering from illness in a locale even warmer than Cannes.
In the U.K., Channel 4 International was extolling the sale of a slew of doc titles to The History Channel. Both sides were mulling the prospect of a 4 x 1-hour series called The Science of the Third Reich. History had other reasons to celebrate, recently breaking the 100 million viewer mark, with the Latin American service growing from three hours to full-time through a partnership with TV Quality. A similar expansion took place Down Under, with Australian History growing from six hours, thanks to a partnership with Foxtel.
BBC Worldwide did two major deals, one of which sees them providing blue chip wildlife to Discovery Europe. ABC Australia began its quest for a new international strategy, with a promise of increased copros in new territories. The Aussie pubcaster also created a development department to exploit new and traditional media.
As announced last issue, Canada’s AAC Fact got up and running, bringing 700 hours of factual to the marketplace. France’s Gedeon used the market to announce the creation of an internet subsidiary: Bionik, a company to create websites for TV programming.