Marielle Zuccarelli had to perform an intervention of sorts on GRB’s international sales division when U.S. broadcasters began keeping their mitts on international rights for GRB-produced programming.
“At that time [around 2006] it became very challenging for most U.S. production companies to retain their international rights when producing for U.S. networks,” she recalls. “We started to have less fresh product to bring to our international buyers, so I thought we had to reinvent the business.”
As a result, after being approached by several other production companies for help in suggesting international sales strategies, Zuccarelli decided it was “time to start showing that we could also take care of third-party programming.” The acquisitions side to GRB Entertainment’s business was born, and now, Zuccarelli says close to 80% of her business comes from third-party content.
Zuccarelli, originally from France, was a natural magnet for other American producers needing help in the international sales side, what with GRB frequently making trips to international markets. Today, she’s looking for “good factual with a U.S. channel attached” which can range from docu-soaps to sports content, to crime stories and science.
Third-party titles currently performing well in the international sales front include Pit Boss, airing in the U.S. on Animal Planet and produced by Intuitive Entertainment. Zuccarelli says that as more niche channels emerge internationally there are more opportunities for a range of U.S. programming . “The license fees may not be quite what we were getting in the past, but there are homes for any genre,” she says.
Zuccarelli says the international distribution division can deficit finance the right project, and its acquisition reach may extend into the scripted world. “I’m always interested in seeing what’s out there that can help us grow,” she says.