1. Celebrating Diversity and Empowerment
One big trend at this year's MIPTV was diversity and female empowerment as Ebony Life boss Mo Abudu became the first-ever African woman to win a Cannes Médaille d’Honneur, of which three of the four winners were women this year.
The prestigious MIPTV Médailles d’Honneur are awarded to senior executives who have, through their talent, leadership and passion, made a significant contribution to the world of television and the development of the international TV community.
Abudu received the award alongside Ilene Chaiken, Writer, Showrunner and Producer (USA); Stéphane Courbit, Chairman, Banijay Group (France); and Jane Millichip, Managing Director, Sky Vision (United Kingdom).
Mo Abudu captioned one of her Instagram posts: “A major part of my acceptance speech was dedicated to the creative business leaders in the room and the need for a partnership between our respective continents so that our stories can be told with authenticity and produced to the best international standards. (…)”
Another indicator of this trend, was Ilene Chaiken's highly anticipated keynote. The creative force behind such hit series as The Handmaid’s Tale, Empire and The L Word, talked LGBTQ stories on TV. Chaiken is currently under a multi-year producing deal with 20th Century Fox Television, where she is actively developing several new projects for broadcast, cable and television streaming services.
She said: “Telling stories changes culture, lives, the way one individual feels about her or himself, and how the rest of the world understands individual experience. (…) The audience is changing in significant ways; it’s more sophisticated, hungrier for new stories. In some ways the audience has changed faster, and become more sophisticated, than the programmers. We don’t have to repeat the same formulas.”
Asked about diversity, she replied: “It’s still a predominantly white male world. There’s still a scarcity of stories of marginalised populations being told. It’s getting better. The GLAAD stats for last year on LGBTQ representation are slightly encouraging, but we’re still down in the miniscule single digits.”
2. The Studio is dead. Long live the studio.
The most valuable currency in the industry today has become global access to content rights. It is of interest to everyone, whether you’re a channel, platform, a producer and increasingly a distributor.
A theme that came up frequently during keynotes at MIPTV 2019 was scale. You need scale to be able to control your rights, finance the content, and move heavily into production. That’s why ITV and BBC adding “Studios” to their brands, or the fact that Viacom International Media Networks announced at MIPTV its objective to make $1bn in revenue from its studio activity.
What scale allows you to do is deficit your own shows.
Scale attracts talent. With scale you have leverage. And you can keep your IP.
So, global rights and scale were definitely another trend we saw at MIPTV. Furthermore, with Disney launching its own VOD platform end of this year and Apple unveiling Apple TV a few weeks ago, there is definitely a trend of studios going direct-to-consumer.
3. Non-scripted on OTT
According to Ampere Analysis On Netflix, and over the course of somewhere around 2 years, non-scripted “went from 5% to 17%.
Netflix and Amazon Prime, and to a lesser extent Apple and YouTube have now fully embraced non-fiction formats, commissioning new or rebooted formats and bulking up their libraries with shows featuring shiny floors, baking competitions and people behaving badly.
Netflix reported big wins. recently on the non-fiction side too, including 20 million member households tuning into FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, about the ill-fated 2017 Fyre Festival, and a Mexican version of comedy culinary format Nailed It!, which earned more first-month watchers than the dubbed American version.
The stand-out title, though, was natural history event series Our Planet, which Netflix says is on track to be one of the company’s most successful global documentary series launches to date, with over 25 million member households projected to watch in the first month.
4. SVOD originals lifespan
Ampere’s analysis of renewals and cancellations between September 2018 and March 2019 reveals that the streamers have been the most ruthless, with their commissions struggling to make it beyond a second series. At four seasons, lifespan is longer on a cable network, while the longest-running shows exist on the free-to-air channels, where a series can expect an average of 6.5 seasons before getting the chop.
Comparing cancellations across the 61 shows that was tracked between Sept ’18 and March ’19, the study revealed that VoD services posted the lowest number of seasons with cancellations coming after an average of 2.1 seasons. Netflix accounts for 68% of VoD cancellations in the USA. 12 of Netflix’s 13 cancellations since September 2018 occurred at three seasons or lower, including four Marvel shows, as well as Originals comedies All About the Washingtons, The Good Cop and Friends from College.
The VoD services seem determined to drive subscriber growth through a continuous pipeline of new content, but this comes at the cost of missing out on long-running franchises like NBC’s Law & Order that keep customers coming back year after year.
5. Rise of primetime success of European series
High-end production made in Europe, and not in the U.S., was everywhere at MIPTV this year. Alan Taylor, an Emmy-winning director of such series as The Sopranos and Game of Thrones, signed on to helm the international series The Swarm, based on the best-selling environmental thriller of the same name by German author Frank Schatzing. Like Shadowplay, it was commissioned by Germany's ZDF, part of the channel's push into big-budget English-language series.
CANNESERIES actually generated considerable buzz this year, thanks to European highlights, including the Spanish dramedy Perfect Life, which won the best series prize, and the Belgian jury drama The Twelve, which picked up best screenplay honors.
The biggest chatter at MIPTV, however, wasn't about the hottest show this year. It’s about whether the global TV conference has lost its mojo, and whether a plan to revamp the market will inject new life into the event. The big question is: Will there be a MIPTV 2020??