In the wake of Reed MIDEM’s announcement that this year’s edition of Cannes-based spring market MIPTV would be canceled due to the impact of the coronavirus outbreak, and not postponed, various companies that would have otherwise been selling content along the Croisette are opting to conduct business in other ways.
Israeli-based, ITV-owned Armoza Formats has unveiled what it calls a “virtual marketplace” — dubbed ArmozaFest — that will allow prospective buyers the exclusive opportunity to learn more about format launches slated for spring, as well as news about titles previously teased during the ITV Studios Formats Festival held during UK Screenings in February.
“‘We have always strived to provide unique and innovative solutions to the challenges that we face in our industry and we believe that ArmozaFest will prove to be just that,” said CEO Avi Armoza (pictured) in a statement. “By using the platform of a virtual market, we will ensure that we not only maintain our relationships but continue to build them.”
“At the end of the day, our industry is driven both by content and people-to-people relationships,” added head of sales Sharon Levi. “Meeting with our clients in person is vital to understanding their needs, so despite the current situation, it is so important for us to find a way to ‘see’ our clients. We look forward to meeting you all ‘screen-to-screen’ soon.”
As news broke of the cancellation of the spring conference, other distributors that were planning on attending reached out to clients to establish ways to work around the disruption, while those who were opting to give this year’s edition a pass are contemplating what impact the situation will have on the event going forward.
A Cineflix Rights spokesperson tells Realscreen: “With the increasing importance of its London showcase screenings in February, together with screenings and launches at Berlin and Series Mania and the growth in the use of its online marketing and sales platform, we will not be adversely affected by the cancellation of MIPTV, and will be focused on MIPCOM as usual as the company’s key international market.”
Meanwhile, Paul Heaney, CEO/founder of London-headquartered TCB Media Rights, says that while TCB hadn’t committed to a stand or registration for MIPTV, he hopes that, with the 2020 edition already set to be a transition year with exhibitors contained within the Palais des Festivals and in redesigned exhibition spaces, event organizers will look to make the 2021 edition “more reasonably budgeted” for those interested in taking part.
He also pointed towards the necessity to have MIPDoc tied to the spring event, as “both events need each other.”
Chris Fletcher, director of sales and programming for wildlife and natural history producer/distributor Earth Touch, offered the following statement to Realscreen: “In the wake of Reed Midem’s cancellation of MIPTV, our sales team are already planning to embark on a number of individual territory sales trips across Europe and beyond to present our new offerings face to face with buyers. One such trip has in fact already taken place. After all a return flight to, say, Madrid can be cheaper than buying a couple of gin and tonics and a bag of crisps on the Croisette!
“We will also be holding some “virtual” presentations but these are an undeniably less ideal alternative to a personal meeting,” Fletcher added.
Currently, the next edition of MIPTV will take place April 12-15, 2021 in Cannes with MIPDoc and MIPFormats scheduled for April 10-11, 2021. The fourth edition of Canneseries will be held in April 2021 during MIPTV.
While many were speculating that the event might be rescheduled during the 2020 calendar year, finding an alternate date for MIPTV proved to be challenging, given the number of events currently on the schedule before MIPCOM that make substantial use of the conference’s main venue, the Palais des Festivals. If it goes ahead as planned, the Cannes Film Festival will take place in late May, to be followed by the rescheduled MIPIM for June 2-5, and the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, geared towards the global advertising industry, slated for June 22-26.
On Thursday (March 5), the French government extended the ban it had invoked over the previous weekend on large gatherings of 5,000 people or more in contained spaces, to May 31. With the Cannes Film Festival slated for May 12-23, organizers issued this statement: “We understand the concern that has been expressed following the postponement of Cannes Series and the cancellation of MIPTV, but as of today nothing indicates that the Cannes Film Festival will not take place. The Cannes Film Festival staff, Thierry Frémaux and the selection committee are all currently working on the organization of the event.”
Regarding concerns about the Festival adhering to the ban, organizers claim the Festival does not have numbers exceeding 5,000 meeting in any particular place at a given time.
Meanwhile, in the U.S., annual multi-genre conference and festival South by Southwest, based in Austin, is facing challenges as numerous major media companies pull out from participating, given concerns over the virus and travel. Among the big players opting to sit it out: Apple, Netflix, Twitter, Facebook and Intel, with word that WarnerMedia and CNN have also pulled out of participating.