We highlight some of the main events that took place during day-one of MIPCOM CANNES
‘We want to create visionary, culture defining content’
Eva Longoria, actor, producer, director and activist, and Cris Abrego, chairman of Banijay Americas, used their MIPCOM CANNES media mastermind keynote to reveal the launch of a new production studio. Backed by the French entertainment giant, the new venture, appropriately enough given Longoria’s range of talents, is called Hyphenate Media Group.
Commenting on the genesis of the partnership and the name, Longoria said she and Abrego started talking about working together a couple of years ago. “We’ve known each other for a long time and shared a lot of creative frustrations,” she said. “In my career, I’ve been an actor, a producer and a director, but I kept being put into overhead deals that could not serve my ambition. Hollywood kept asking me to stay in my lane but a multi-hyphenate by definition is somebody who wants to do more. So Hyphenate is about providing an alternate model for all the incomparable creators who are being suffocated by the system.”
Outstanding talent will be core to the Hyphenate model, she added: “Chris and I have always recognised that in order to have success, you have to invest in creators. If you’re not investing in the talent, then you don’t have a future.”
Implicit in the Hyphenate approach is a desire to embrace diversity: “We’re not a diversity programme,” said Longoria, “but at a time when big companies are investing less in multicultural content, we want to create visionary, culture-defining content for the most diverse generation ever.”
Abrego added: “I don’t think many people would have bet on Eva or me 20 years ago. We were both outsiders in this industry. So part of our ambition now is to bet on people who’ve been underestimated, or haven’t been invested in.”
Abrego, who will participate in Hyphenate while continuing in his Banijay role, said Banijay have been supportive of the new venture. “Banijay is run by producers. It’s in the ethos of the company to embrace new ideas. They understood Hyphenate immediately.”
‘Our North Star is the consumer’
Warner Bros Discovery (WBD) president of international Gerhard Zeiler used his Cannes keynote to assert that “rationality” has returned to the streaming market. As his company prepares to roll out new streaming platform Max internationally, he said the era of “oversupplied” and “under-priced” content is over.
WBD’s ambition is to make Max one of the “top three to five global streamers”, Zeiler said, adding that the platform is “more than just HBO Max 2.0. It’s a fusion of HBO, our feature films, the DC Universe, our kids’ animation, Discovery, TLC and so much more.”
Leah Hooper Rosa, WBD’s head of streaming, EMEA, said Max will launch in Latin America in Q1 2024, followed by 22 European countries in spring. Launches in France and Belgium will follow later in the year.
Discussing WBD’s 2023 highlights, Zeiler pointed to the success of the Barbie movie, the launch of Hogwarts Legacy and HBO’s output. He also assured delegates that WBD is not a “one trick pony” when it comes to content monetisation: “We don’t believe that putting everything into one window is the right business model. We believe in streaming 100%. But our North Star is the consumer, so if it makes sense to license content to third parties, we will.”
‘We can expand the number of seats for women’
Feminism’s importance to the TV industry — and for society as a whole — was the central topic at yesterday’s Women in Global Entertainment Power Lunch. Held in partnership with A+E Networks, the lunch was preceded by a panel session featuring senior women executives.
For Universal Content Productions/Universal International Studios’ Beatrice Springborn, feminism is about “stepping out of yourself and supporting others. For so long, that word was defined as self-empowerment, but I really think it’s more about empowering others — and not just other women. It’s an outward-facing rather than inward-looking thing.”
ITV Studios’ Ruth Berry talked about the importance of nurturing confidence: “Set people up to succeed, don’t set them up to fail.”
We can change that. We can expand the number of seats for women – A+E Media Group’s Deborah K Bradley
The Hollywood Reporter’s Nekesa Mumbi Moody also spoke about confidence, observing that female leaders tend to be more reticent: “You are quieter in what you ask for, because it took so much to get here. I don’t want people to have to dim their light.” She added: “For me, feminism’s all about women empowerment.”
A+E Media Group’s Deborah K Bradley, who introduced the debate, said women often feel they are compete against one another “as if there’s only so many seats at the table”. She added: “We can change that. We can expand the number of seats for women.”
Scheduling makes a comeback with streamers
Traditional linear TV-style scheduling is being adopted by streamers, according to Frederic Vaulpre, senior vice-president of research firm Glance, citing Netflix’s strategy for psychological thriller You.
“The first five episodes were launched in February and, one month after, you had the last remaining episodes. So, quite new for Netflix — they never did that before,” he said.
Vaulpre shared data indicating that 80% of You’s consumption occurred in the 14 days following its release. This challenges Netflix’s “binge-watching approach”, he said, and calls for more flexible releasing plans in order not to “burn out an IP”.
Another example is provided by Disney+’s American Born Chinese, which debuted in May with weekly episodes released on Wednesdays. Then, in June, its pilot appeared on YouTube and linear channel ABC, before the first three episodes were made available on Hulu and, finally, on Roku. “We call that a 360-windowing sales approach, which is a new way to monetise content,” Vaulpre said.
Glance’s head of global business, Beatrice Rossmanith, outlined the consequences of the Hollywood writers’ strike, from postponed show launches to clarity that “AI is not a writer”. “There will be a creative realignment in the years to come,” she predicted. “And as has been said before, the era of peak TV is over.”
Formats: caught between yesterday and tomorrow
Creativity seems to be stuck between the security of the past (reboots) and anxiety about the future (AI), The WIT CEO Virginia Mousseler told a packed Grand Auditorium at yesterday’s Fresh TV Formats session, traditionally one of MIPCOM CANNES’ biggest draws.
Mousseler kicked off her session by revealing that top-performing formats of the last six months have been Traitors, Love Island and a reboot of Cash Cab.
In terms of trends, she identified a fascination with the romantic lives of older demographics, as exemplified by ABC’s hit The Golden Bachelor. Sometimes, she added, this is explored through the lens of AI, as in the case with Italian format Forever Young.
There was a strong pranking theme to The WIT’s selections. UK dating show Are They For Real?, US series Snake Oil and Canadian social experiment Becoming A Guru all hinge on deception mechanics — as does France’s Find Me, I’m Famous and the US reboot of the Jo Schmo Show.
Survival challenges continue to be in demand, illustrated by Danish shows The Snow Patrol and The Lost Ones. A variant is The Life Trail, from the Netherlands, in which eight young people with mental-health issues are whisked off to Switzerland.