As we approach MIPTV, realscreen has asked several acquisition execs to let us know what they’ll be on the lookout for in Cannes, and also to give us their takes on market trends in factual programming. Here, Yvonne Body, head of coproductions and acquisitions at London- and Sydney-based Beyond Distribution, shares her thoughts.
Is there anything you’re looking for specifically this time around at MIPTV?
On the factual side, there’s certainly an appetite for lifestyle and reality programming, but when you look at the range of broadcasters and territories that Beyond sells to, we’re asked for pretty much everything. We’re definitely focusing on series rather than one-offs, although there is still a market for very strong singles on social issues.
How has ongoing consolidation in the production sector impacted the acquisitions side? Is the supply of content dwindling?
Medium-sized production companies are being swallowed up by the big players with their own distribution arms, so there’s less available content out there. We were beginning to get concerned at the drop in production over the last 18 months caused by the global economic crisis, but things do seem to be picking up again now.
You’ve recently begun more of a push into the UK producers’ market. What new relationships have you struck up with UK prodcos, and are there any other regions that you’re looking to increase working relationships with?
We have been deliberately targeting the UK as we felt that UK content was under-represented in our catalog. We’re still in the middle of that initiative, but are proud to have started working with Back2Back Productions from Brighton (watch out for their Hunks at MIP) and True North Productions from Leeds. It would be great to source more programming from the U.S., but most producers there end up having to let the broadcaster take all rights in order to get their programs made. Generally, we’re looking for good content from anywhere.
In terms of subject matter or genre, what’s been selling well internationally for you?
Lifestyle has been performing very well for us, from Brunei to the Ukraine, especially in the areas of property and food. Crime always works, as does celebrity. And MythBusters, which we produce, just sells and sells.
From your perspective, are there any genres or topics that you think will be on the rise in the year ahead?
Judging from the talk at the Realscreen Summit, unscripted reality in the form of job-based observational documentary series is still on the rise, at least in North America, where all the channels seem to be looking for the same thing, irrespective of their historical brands. There can be very few multi-generational, small family-run businesses between the East and West Coasts not being pitched on a talent tape somewhere.
Producers do seem to be finding the most amazing characters in the most obscure places, but there’s a danger that we’ll be swamped by a glut of lookalike reality shows and there’ll be nothing new when broadcasters decide they want something different.