Documentary Business

Peter Hamilton Consultants, Inc

‘Pitching in the Rain’ … MIPCOM Takeaways

MIPCOM 2014 was hard.

  • It began to rain on Sunday, and it poured on and off until Wednesday.
  • Meetings often ran late or were cancelled. People were soaked and uncomfortable.
  • So what did I learn at arguably the world’s leading international video marketplace?

Several Takeaways stuck in my mind after days of dashing around Cannes between downpours.


Content ready for distribution at the Cannes Market.

1. All Rise for the BRICs

The first MIP’s that I attended, back in the ‘Eighties, were dominated by Western, and mainly US delegates.

  • No longer.
  • The rise of the BRICs and the Little BRICs goes on and on.

Here’s a rough comparison between attending delegations by country, 20o6 and 2014.

First, the ’emerging’ markets:

S. Korea7485115%

And a small sample of delegations for three markets that were considered amongst the industry leaders.


Note: Each delegation may consist of as a few as a single representative, or for the players, dozens.

2. Local! Local! Local!

Established broadcasters and channels were heard over and again saying: “We want local!”

  • The days of the big American output deals are over.
  • When I worked at CBS International, Nine Network Australia was our biggest customer, buying a package of News, TV Movies, series, Sports and more.
  • Now, from Australia to Africa to Europe, audiences prefer locally-originated programs, or local productions of global formats.
  • That means that more countries have more programs and formats to trade at MIPCOM.

3. Local Channels, too.

This MIPCOM announcement caught my attention:

SPARK, Astro Malaysia, Malaysia’s leading consumer media group, and Singapore-based Moving Visuals International (MVI), have just signed a joint venture to set-up Asia’s first dedicated HD factual and documentary channel, SPARK ASIA.

The Channel, which will go live in the first half of 2015, will offer a wide variety of exclusive Asian and global HD content. In addition, SPARK ASIA will empower the local community of producers and filmmakers by offering an alternative platform to showcase their documentaries and also drive training initiatives.

SPARK ASIA will promote knowledge; celebrate Asian values and traditions and bring Asia to the world in an exciting way. Its content genres will include science & technology, exploration, history, environment, nature and wildlife.

SPARK ASIA will also draw  its programming from the vast library of AUTENTIC and ZDF Enterprises. Asia is the latest launch of the factual entertainment brand SPARK, which is also available in Eastern Europe as well as in Africa.

Astro is  the #1 channels distributor in Malaysia. Its participation in the venture implies that the US major brands, led by Discovery, A+E and Nat Geo, with their US-centric program pipelines, are leaving a gap for local channels.

  • I first met MVI’s Khim Loh and Galen Yeo when I was engaged on a strategic bus dev project for Singapore’s Media Development Authority (MDA).
  • We later explored strategies for MVI as an established producer to move up the value chain by launching channels.
  • I introduced them to Autentic’s MD Patrick Hoerl at Sunnyside Asia in Tokyo.
  • Thanks to the MDA and the Sunnyside team for setting up this successful networking effort!

4. Russia

The scale and continued growth of the Russian delegation surprised me a bit.

Ukraine-related sanctions and a sudden change in the media laws were expected to dampen attendance.

  • The regulators recently mandated a Canadian-style law that limits foreign ownership of channels to 20%.
  • This move followed unexpected restrictions on advertising on cab/sat channels.
  • Everyone is waiting for the next shoe to drop.

However, Russia is a huge buyer and seller of programs. It is a growing market that can’t be ignored because its viewers have a proven appetite for Western programs, formats and channels.

5. China: Debutantes No More 

China’s large delegation showed none of the flash of previous markets.

  • Perhaps the Chinese were dampened by the CCTV scandals that we have covered here.
  • But I think that China’s coming out season is over and done.
  • They’re here, and are becoming as integrated into the global content industry as they are in most other sectors.

Next Step?

  • China’s leading players enjoy massive domestic scale and access to Western capital markets
  • It won’t be long before we’re shocked to read about a Chinese acquisition of a major Western studio or production company.


  • Several sources say that CCTV9 Documentary Channel is going ahead with projects for which it signed contracts.
  • It will review pending contracts as soon as the new GM is in place.
  • We heard that there is not a politically-inspired reorg or purge at CCTV or CCTV9, and that the recent problems have been ‘personal rather than institutional.’

6. Africa

  • South Africa (47 delegations) and Nigeria (20) are becoming more of a presence.
  • I’m very excited to be working with the South African Indies who will attend World Congress in Hong Kong next month.

7. Netflix / Twitter / Turner

  • Netflix recently hired a sizeable acquisitions team dedicated to programs for the African Diaspora living in Europe. That struck me as a very big statement about Netflix’s ambition and confidence.
  • I heard that Twitter sent 23 delegates to Cannes. Then I heard ’53’ and that they are dedicated to their online video platform. More later: but its definitely great for the buzz-king to earn that kind of buzz.
  • Meanwhile Turner Networks laid off around 1,000 employees…

Upcoming Conferences / Presentations

  • New York Bar Association
  • DISCOP, Joburg
  • WCSFP, Hong Kong
  • Realscreen 2015, Washington DC


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