April 2, 2020
In this week's edition:
• Making It
• Distributor Spotlight: Boat Rocker Studios
In the news
The Tokyo 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games, which were postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic, are now set to take place from July 23 to August 8, 2021. Following discussions with the Government of Canada, the Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission is waiving the next payment of license fees due to the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic is forecast to lead to
short-term SVOD subscription gains, according to Strategy Analytics. In other analysis news, Ampere Analysis found that Netflix is customizing its localization strategy for key markets, prioritizing dubbed content in countries such as France, Germany, Italy and Spain, while focusing on subtitles in smaller markets. Recent personnel shake-ups include Jason Kilar, previously the founding CEO of Hulu and senior VP at Amazon, being named CEO of WarnerMedia; Max Conze exiting ProSiebenSat.1; and Channel 4 tapping Louisa Compton to replace Dorothy Byrne as head of news and current affairs.
Mansha Daswani hears from leading producers about how they are navigating this era of peak TV.
At the end of February, just before Kew Media Group’s lenders called in their debts, producer Jamie Brown announced that he was buying back his Frantic Films venture from the company, personally financing the deal. The Canadian outfit had been one of six key acquisitions that served as the foundation of Kew Media Group in 2017. Once Kew’s financial troubles were revealed at the end of 2019, many producers in the group quickly moved to land on their feet before the company collapsed. Two Rivers Media secured a deal to buy out Kew Media’s stake; Kew had been one of the early backers of the Scottish indie. Jeff Collins exited the company he founded—Collins Avenue Entertainment, which was subsequently sold to Asylum Entertainment Group’s The Content Group—and set up a new outfit with Sky Studios. Robert Cohen bought back Media Headquarters and Datsit acquired BGM and Sienna Films. Kew’s other companies, including TCB Media Rights, continue to operate while new owners are sought. (Meanwhile, Kew Media Distribution has ceased all operations.)
The fall of Kew Media Group is a cautionary tale for producers looking to become part of bigger groups in the pursuit of scale (and fewer sleepless nights worrying about cash flow and keeping the lights on). But it is also one of the few calamities from the rapid-fire M&A landscape over the last few years. The federations—cross-border companies consisting of a mix of production companies alongside a strong distribution arm—continue to get bigger (with the Banijay and Endemol Shine Group combination set to be the biggest once that transaction closes). IP is a valuable commodity these days, and for the most part, there has never been a better time to be a producer.
Take the U.K., where the independent sector is worth about £3 billion a year, according to John McVay, chief executive of Pact, which represents the interest of producers. That’s up from about £600 million two decades ago.
“The U.K. is still one of the most competitive markets in the world, despite more investments coming from cabsats and streamers and so on,” McVay reports. “Domestic broadcasting is still the primary market for our producers. Every slot counts, every minute counts. We’re in a battle for quality, a battle for innovation and a battle for eyeballs, whether that’s free-to-air commercial or pay or the BBC. In that sense, it’s never been tougher. But at the same time, that’s made us very competitive.”
Key to the health of the sector, McVay explains, is the model that has allowed U.K. producers to retain the IP rights to their commissions. “We can make shows domestically and own and control the copyright, under license with those broadcasters, or we can go and work for global streaming platforms, where we can get our repo margin.” While being a producer can certainly be lucrative today, navigating a fast-changing landscape on your own is not easy.
The interviews for this report were conducted prior to the COVID-19 global pandemic. Media companies are currently shifting their strategies in the wake of production postponements and economic trends.
This article continues here.
Distributor Spotlight: Boat Rocker Studios
ADDRESS: 310 King St. E., Toronto, ON M5A 1K6, Canada
TELEPHONE: (1-416) 591-0065
MANAGING DIRECTOR & PRESIDENT, RIGHTS: Jon Rutherford
SENIOR VP, GLOBAL SALES, KIDS & FAMILY: Gia DeLaney
VP, GLOBAL SALES, FACTUAL: Natalie Vinet
PROGRAMS: Mary’s Kitchen Crush: 30x30 min., factual/food/lifestyle; Secrets in the Ice: 6x60 min., factual/history/science; Coded World: 4x60 min., factual/science & technology; Hell in the Heartland: 4x60 min., factual/docuseries/crime; Secrets of a Psychopath: 3x60 min., factual/ docuseries/crime; Remy & Boo: 52x11 min., preschool 2-5/adventure; Love Monster: 54x7 min., preschool 2-5/comedy/adventure; Kingdom Force: 52x11 min., preschool 3-6/action/adventure; The Next Step: S6-S7 52x30 min., teens/tweens/scripted; The Strange Chores: 26x11 min., kids 6-11/comedy/adventure.
“Boat Rocker Studios, the content, distribution and brands arm of Boat Rocker Media, brings great stories to life through global relationships, brand management, creative packaging expertise, financial support and ensuring brand integrity. Our studio consists of the following scripted, unscripted and kids and family content groups: Platform One, Temple Street, Crooked Horse, Proper Television, Insight Productions, Matador Content, Boat Rocker Kids & Family and a partnership with Industrial Brothers. With over 700 employees across its Toronto, New York, Los Angeles, London, Ottawa and Hong Kong offices, 750 half-hours of content produced annually and a distribution library now totaling over 7,500 half-hours, our sales team maintains a boutique style of distribution with the reach of a global media company. Our studio takes a 360-degree approach to content. From content creation to sales and brand exploitation, Boat Rocker Studios develops the strategy for, and executes on, global marketing and monetization plans for high-potential entertainment brands.”
World Screen April
World Screen Guide 2020
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