MIPTV ’13: FremantleMedia aims to expand its digital domain

From more YouTube channels to an increased focus on interactivity within the content development process, FremantleMedia execs at MIPTV discussed the company's evolving digital strategy.
April 8, 2013

(From left to right: FremantleMedia’s David Ellender, Cecile Frot-Coutaz, Rob Clark and Keith Hindle at MIPTV)

FremantleMedia’s recent restructuring┬áhas given the company a new flexibility that will enable it to take better advantage of possibilities in the multi-platform mediascape, according to executives holding court at the company’s annual MIPTV press breakfast.

“In today’s world, digital and sponsorship or brands are an integral part of not only how you make shows but also the development process,” said FremantleMedia CEO Cecile Frot-Coutaz. “[With] the next big franchise, it’s likely to have some digital aspect baked into it. It’s likely to have a brand attached.”

Thus, in order to create content that could evolve into that “next big franchise,” Frot-Coutaz said it’s imperative for the company to approach its content production and distribution business, and its growing digital components, in an integrated fashion.

“This is not about losing capabilities – this is about repositioning them,” said Frot-Coutaz. “You need to have all the bits tied together and you need to have the bits talking together at the beginning of the process.”

Keith Hindle, newly appointed┬áhead of the company’s digital and branded division, echoed the point that interactivity is an increasingly important part of FremantleMedia’s content strategy.

“Interactivity has been such a crucial part of how we’ve got to where we are even in the current TV world – telephone voting on the Idol format for example,” he said, adding: “We’re folding interactivity into the intellectual property development process itself in a much more sophisticated way now.”

As for whether the increased focus on digital content and distribution could lead to a future acquisition of a digital native production outfit, Frot-Coutaz said FremantleMedia is open to looking at “smart content creators in that space.”

Digital distribution of content has also been a focus for the company, with FremantleMedia’s YouTube channels, including both those connected to TV properties and original online content, having amassed a whopping 4.5 billion views in 2012, according to Hindle. Unsurprisingly, more will be on the way. Frot-Coutaz and Hindle said that the company may explore creating more channels specifically in the lifestyle genre.

“Now is an incredibly exciting time for digital and content creators because we’re not just talking about gadgets and interesting widgets,” said Hindle. “We’re talking about digital networks emerging that generate enormous amounts of traffic and eyeballs. So us moving into these spaces is a direct expansion of our core production business if we can do it in the right way.”

David Ellender, CEO of FremantleMedia’s international and kids division, pointed to the company’s recent partnership with Hulu, which saw FremantleMedia distribute Morgan Spurlock’s A Day in the Life series across platforms, as an indicator that “looking at the new digital content creators is very important.”

On the television front, director of global entertainment development Rob Clark said the formats FremantleMedia has brought to the market represent a “broad” and “tested” slate, with entertainment programs such as British format and realscreen MIPTV Pick The Year of Making Love, Canadian format Family Harmony, Holland primetime hit Everybody Dance Now and Finnish format KIDSing having proven themselves in their home territories.

Also on the slate are Perfect Score from FremantleMedia North America, launching on the CW this summer, The Intern from FremantleMedia UK company Boundless, Irish format Date with Fate and The Noise, the latest from Japan’s Fuji TV.


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.