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Buyer’s Buzz: Passion Distribution

Sally Miles, CEO of UK-based Passion Distribution, gave realscreen time for a quick phone call during her 'crazy busy' time preparing for MIPTV and MIPDoc. Here, she shares her thoughts on what helps sell a show and what unscripted genre might be cooling off for broadcasters.
March 17, 2010

Sally Miles, CEO of UK-based Passion Distribution, gave realscreen time for a quick phone call during her ‘crazy busy’ time preparing for MIPTV and MIPDoc. Here, she shares her thoughts on what helps sell a show and what unscripted genre might be cooling off for broadcasters.

What sort of factual programming will you be looking for at MIPTV?
I think there will be fewer producers at MIPTV so I’m not sure from an acquisition perspective whether it’ll be that active there. I think it’s going to be much more of a sales market for us. We find that a lot more producers come to MIPCOM in October.
That being said, you’ve always got your eyes open and we continue to look for factual entertainment, factual documentary series and lifestyle programming. What’s become key as well is where the programming is coming from, whether it’s a producer with a good, long-standing track record to deliver to a certain solid rating or a certain style that skews to key demographic. We’re finding that producers that have built up an international name for themselves that people know and recognize, like the World of Wonders of this world, really help in selling a program.
I think our buyers also have to go back and justify why they want to invest in certain programming. If they’re able to support it with information about track records of producer’s previous successes, it does give the money people a lot more comfort.

What are a couple of recent acquisitions that you’ve been proud of?
I actually can’t talk about everything because we have a lot of announcements coming up. We are going to be launching a fantastic lifestyle catalog at MIPTV, all from one particular content relationship [the recently-announced distribution deal with Scripps Networks International]. We’re very excited about that. I think good, honest, real people stories and experiences in lifestyle programming are actually in good demand.

Are there any regions on the upswing in terms of producing sellable content?
Our focus stays very much in the UK. I think more and more of the U.S. content is distributed internationally and I think that’s much to do with the financial economics of the model. Not because they’ve always made fantastic programs, but because of the change in the tone or the delivery of the program. I think it’s that international is becoming part of the U.S.’ model in terms of the economics, and that’s allowing a lot of opportunity for us, distributing more U.S. content.

Are there any genres that you’re seeing less of?
I’d say [we're seeing] less game shows. I think that’s something that we started to notice coming out of MIPCOM and definitely going into MIPTV, we’re not finding that broadcasters are out looking for new game shows.

Where’s your favorite place to take a meeting in Cannes?
If it’s the weekend, one of those lovely hotels up near Saint-Paul de Vence, [which is] compensation for working on the weekend. If it’s during the week, then there’s no better place than the Passion café or our stand, of course.

About The Author
Daniele Alcinii is a news reporter at realscreen, the leading international publisher of non-fiction film and television industry news and content. He joins the rs team with journalism experience following a stint out west with Sun Media in Edmonton's Capital Region, and communications work in Melbourne, Australia and Toronto. You can follow him on Twitter at @danielealcinii.

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