Welcome to the first in a series of posts from selected industry influencers — producers, distributors and buyers — who’ll be sharing their insights in the run-up to MIPCOM and MIPJunior 2017. First up is leading international buyer, Fox Networks Group’s Jeff Ford. Take it away, Jeff!
Debbie Macdonald: Could you please introduce yourself?
Jeff Ford: I am MD UK and SVP Content Development, Europe and Africa for Fox Networks Group (FNG). I have been in TV since leaving school at the tender age of 18, holding positions at a network level for over 20 years. I have acquired content for ITV, C4 and C5 and was Director of Programmes at C5 and TV3 in Ireland.
> What do you think is the most innovative thing in TV now, and why?
Sounds a little cheesy to say — and clearly technology is continuously evolving consumers ability to enjoy and access content — but I think the most innovative thing in TV currently are those storytellers who are making it. Just looking internally at our organisation, Ron Howard (Genius/MARS), Ryan Murphy (Feud/AHS/ACS), Darren Aronofsky (One Strange Rock), Noah Hawley (Fargo/Legion) – the creativity and excellence that these innovators pour into their shows, really gives audiences such unique and compelling experiences.
> How do you ensure what you acquire retains the attention of the cord-cutting, multi-screen generation?
Quality always wins. It has to be the very best. Unmissable television that suits your brand and with all the rights consumers need to watch shows when and where they want. If those rights aren’t available or not being sold with the show, then there is no point buying the content. The question though remains how do you monetise consumption when it isn’t measured…
> Is the playing field more level in the digital age? To what extent is the ‘traditional’ system (pitching to a Commissioner) still important and how do you see that system evolving?
There is always someone who has to make a decision on what people watch, either using an algorithm or a meeting with a commissioner. Commissioners know their channels/platforms and are open to take creative risks or take a balanced editorial view on their offering across the channel as a whole. They also guide and form ideas with producers and assist in the creative process. A creative vacuum is never a great place for a producer or a channel…
In our first regional commission, DEEP STATE, we have worked closely with Endor, understanding their issues and trying to overcome difficulties, all for the greater good of the show! It has been a wonderful and rewarding experience for all of us…we are all in it together!
> What is your favourite TV show/IP today and why?
Normal For Norfolk! It isn’t a cutting edge drama but simply a structured reality show with heart, great characters and a warmth that features my favourite part of the UK! Season 3 please, BBC!
> How will TV’s golden age continue post-Game of Thrones?
TV has always had Golden Ages! This one is driven by superb thought-provoking pieces by unbelievable creative talent. It is also, however, driven by an insane amount of volume! GoT is just one of many wonderful shows out there and there are many others… The Walking Dead, The Crown to name a few.
The concern is that this need for more drama pushes costs up and drowns the great in a sea of the ordinary. How do people find it? The middle tier of content will simply disappear in a battle for high end and the cheap and cheerful….
This is the first in a series of posts from MIPCOM 2017’s MIPBlog Ambassadors, a panel of industry experts who’ll be sharing their insight here in the run-up to MIPCOM this October. Stay tuned for more!