Toronto-based distribution company Portfolio Entertainment is fully embracing food and home design shows as major components of its factual catalog. Jon Rutherford, director of sales and acquisitions for Portfolio, takes realscreen through how he felt about MIPCOM, what’s new in the catalog and predictions for 2010.
What are your newest acquisitions?
Just prior to MIPCOM we acquired the international rights to two new lifestyle shows, [both] produced by Ottawa’s Mountain Road Productions. The two shows are Real Estate Adventures of Sandy and Maryse and The Restaurant Adventures of Caroline and Dave. Mountain Road created these adventure series for the W Network in Canada and they are making different themed series as they go along. [They are] 10 to 13-part anthology series about the beginning stages of what would go into, for example in Real Estate Adventures, buying and flipping a home. That show is completed, it was produced in 2008 over to 2009 and Restaurant Adventures is still in production. They are new in our catalog and we just unveiled them at MIPCOM this year.
Did you have interest in your catalog at MIPCOM?
Absolutely. We’ve been pretty heavy these past couple of years on food, cooking and this new home design genre. Both have been big draws for us in the factual side of our catalog. [For] cooking, we represent quite a few popular names on the Food Network, one being Chef Michael Smith who has six programs under his belt, the most recent being Chef Abroad. That show just went into a second season which we just brought to the market. We also represent a show called Everyday Exotic, fronted by Chef Roger Mooking, which is going into its second season hopefully soon. We just picked up the first season distribution-wise and it’s still fresh this year. We unveiled it at MIPTV earlier this year and at MIPCOM it was still generating lots of new interest. Those two are big draws. French Food At Home is another Food Network show that we distribute.
How much is factual programming in demand right now?
It has definitely gotten better near the end of the year. We’re not out of the economic downfall, it’s still affecting things, but over the last couple of months I definitely see signs of promise. We’re all looking forward to rolling into the new year and starting fresh and hoping we’ll get better as we go. The hunger for great new programming is always out there; budgets might be tighter and slots might be smaller but the need and demand is there, it’s just whether or not you can get your show picked up this fall or next spring.
I did focus on food and home design and that’s not all we do in factual/lifestyle. We have quite a bit in travel and sports programming, also in animal programming, general factual-style programs and docu-series. We cover a wide range in lifestyle [but] I’d say, as of late, food and home design are our top draws.