While most know Adam and Eve begat Cain and Abel, fewer know that Cain begat Weinstein, a stringer for the P’Dice Reporter who wrote his first piece on whether or not industry recovery was at hand. Yes, some questions are that old.
The buzz at MIPCOM was certainly good – several producers observed that broadcasters were spending like sailors on shore leave – but it’s still too early to say if the salad days of yore have returned. As Michael Hoff of mhp sagely observed during the market, it’s hard to tell if there is more money in the system or if there are just fewer players to split what remains, the rest having gone out of business. Bummer.
Regardless of whether you think the snifter is half full or half empty, several truths emerged from the market – as did enough rumors to keep things interesting. Here’s a sampling:
* Consolidation will continue in the U.K. One player suggested he knew of at least a dozen more companies to be acquired or merged in 2005. Variables include the BBC’s independent quota and the results of the ofcom regs review. It is uncertain what any of this has to do with the slew of U.K. indies opening offices in the U.S. and Canada, but we suspect they might be making a move to reacquire the colonies.
* Formats, formats, formats. It’s all about branding, as long-running formats – be they lifestyle or reality – offer broadcasters stability in their schedule and a chance to differentiate themselves from the pack. In the spirit of Henry Ford, who said you can have any color car you want as long as it’s black, producers can now make any program they want – as long as it costs US$20,000 per episode, all-in.
* Talk about cell phone programming was also big – especially for informational programming, animation and porn. And if you can combine any of those, you’re golden.
* Lastly, ‘fast and loose’ best describes the relationship many producers now enjoy with the factual bits in their programming. Reenactments have given way to reconstructions have given way to ‘just making shit up.’ Would Marilyn Monroe really have been in The Graduate had she lived, as suggested by C4′s Back to Life? And wouldn’t Van Helsing have been so much better with Orson Welles? You know it would have.
But those are questions for another issue and another year. From all of us here at RealScreen, we wish you a happy and relaxing holiday. And don’t forget to bring a camera; nothing spells reality format quite like end-of-year angst, in-laws and booze.