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Daily Dramas ALL3MEDIA’s Louise Pedersen SPI’s Loni Farhi
NATPE BUDAPEST EDITION
www.tveurope.ws THE MAGAZINE OF EUROPEAN TELEVISION
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Eccho Rights • Exit • Karadayi • Mahmut & Meryem
In This Issue The Many Faces of Drama The market for European daily dramas is in flux
Interviews ALL3MEDIA’s Louise Pedersen SPI’s Loni Farhi
Ricardo Seguin Guise Publisher Anna Carugati Editor
Turkish drama series continue to be in demand, and Eccho Rights, part of Sparks Eccho, is presenting Karadayi to buyers. The drama series has already been sold in about 15 different countries. Even though the demand for Turkish drama is high, “broadcasters still need a few big entertainment shows for local productions,” says Fredrik af Malmborg, the managing director of Eccho Rights. The company is offering Exit, a game show that features room-escape challenges. It debuted on Syfy in the U.S. this year and is in preproduction in a number of territories in Europe and Asia. Also topping Eccho Rights’ highlights is Mahmut & Meryem, which tells a story of impossible love between the son of a Muslim emperor and the daughter of a Christian monk, set in the 16th century.
“The game show Exit will attract audiences immediately.” —Fredrik af Malmborg Exit
Power • Air Force One Is Down • “End of the World” mini-series • Christmas-themed TV movies
Mansha Daswani Executive Editor Kristin Brzoznowski Managing Editor Joanna Padovano Associate Editor Simon Weaver Online Director Victor L. Cuevas Production & Design Director Phyllis Q. Busell Art Director Cesar Suero Sales & Marketing Director Vanessa Brand Sales & Marketing Manager
Power has been attending this annual Budapest-based market for the last decade and has seen the fruits of its labor pay off. “NATPE Budapest is a thriving market with attendance growing year on year,” says Georgina McNeilly, Power’s VP of international sales. “As such, it provides a fantastic opportunity to further business across all channel platforms as well as the ever-expanding new-media arena.” This time around, Power is presenting the adrenalin-fueled mini-series Air Force One Is Down, along with five “end of the world”-themed mini-series. There is also a heavy dose of Christmas fare for buyers planning their holiday schedules. “Power is a one-stop shop for festive season schedules, with a broad range of Christmas movies appealing to all the family,” says McNeilly.
“Despite economic challenges, there is still a strong appetite for our content [in CEE].” —Georgina McNeilly
Air Force One Is Down
Terry Acunzo Business Affairs Manager
Tele München International Ricardo Seguin Guise President Anna Carugati Executive VP & Group Editorial Director Mansha Daswani Associate Publisher & VP of Strategic Development TV Europe © 2013 WSN INC. 1123 Broadway, #1207 New York, NY 10010 Phone: (212) 924-7620 Fax: (212) 924-6940 Website: www.tveurope.ws
• Cosmos • Hubert & Staller • The Other Wife From filmmaker Kurt Mündl, Cosmos is a brand-new doc series that touches on a variety of wildlife topics, from endangered insects such as the honeybee to surviving the cold. “Cosmos appeals to a broad audience,” says Angelika Koch, the international sales manager for Tele München International. “The range and depth of subjects by Kurt Mündl is fascinating and informative.” Produced for Germany’s public network ARD, Hubert & Staller is a crime comedy centered on two policemen who use unconventional methods to solve crimes. The Other Wife, which aired on ZDF in Germany, is an Englishlanguage mini-series starring Rupert Everett, John Hannah and Natalia Wörner. 38 World Screen 6/13
“With our reality shows and nonscripted programs, we absolutely meet the current viewing trends.” Cosmos
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Eccho Rights’ Ezel.
The market for European daily dramas is in flux amid a wave of Turkish serial imports and the increasing popularity of scripted reality shows.
By Mansha Daswani
or the last few years, Germany has had a lock on the so-called European telenovela market—daily soaps filled with romance, angst, revenge, scandal and high drama. The nation remains a prolific producer of these long-running soaps, which continue to pop up on the daytime and access prime-time schedules of broadcasters across the region. But for Germany’s purveyors of romance, there is far more competition than there’s ever been, given Turkey’s voluminous serial drama output and European audi40 World Screen 6/13
ences’ increasing predilection for scripted or constructed reality shows—daily melodramas that play out with regular people instead of professional actors. “At the moment, in Germany and some other European countries, the market is shifting,” observes Jens Richter, the managing director of Red Arrow International, which for many years found success distributing daily dramas from Sat.1. “Until two or three years ago we had a lot of these European-style telenovelas—half-hour episodes, Monday to
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Wishful thinking: Red Arrow International has a number of European soaps in its catalogue, including Anna.
Friday, horizontal story lines, telling the story of a female lead character.” The German version of Ugly Betty, for example, was a huge hit for Sat.1 and went on to deliver significant audiences for TF1 in France as well as broadcasters across Central and Eastern Europe. Over the last year or so, however, Richter notes that those telenovela slots on Sat.1 have been taken over by “docu-fiction”—scripted reality shows that are picking up steam across Europe. PASSIONATE GERMANY
Happiness, Alisa: Follow Your Heart, Flickering Hearts, Tessa: A Life for Love and Straight to Your Heart, in Europe as well as attention from farther afield. “Disproving the old adage that Italian viewers can’t connect with original German product are the sales to Italy’s RAI (Roads to Happiness) and to RTI (Alisa),” says Fred Burcksen, the executive VP and COO of ZDF Enterprises. “We’ve also registered a strong interest on the part of Central and Eastern European countries such as the three Baltic nations, Slovakia and the Czech Republic, Croatia, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Poland—most of which have acquired more than one series. And let’s not forget the demand from German providers and platforms,” such as Mainstream Media, iTunes, maxdome and others. “There seems to be something about our telenovelas and other daytime serials that strikes a chord in viewers of many nations and cultures,” Burcksen continues. “Although conceived for the German market, our telenovelas are making inroads into the programming of a number of territories—even if we haven’t cracked Latin America yet! We want to continue building up our presence in Eastern Europe and Italy. But we’d also like to move into China and Southeast Asia, most likely through the local adaptations of formats. The same applies to Turkey and the Caucasus. And, of course, we could envision cooperation with a U.S. or Canadian firm as a co-production partner in the future. “Daytime TV is where these shows are really at home, at least in Europe,” Burcksen notes of how broadcasters are scheduling these German soaps. “Some of the glossier, bigbudget series are shown in access prime time, and, less often, on weekends, which are traditionally reserved for more familyoriented fare.”
At rival networks RTL, ARTE and ZDF, however, the traditional daily soap is alive and well. FremantleMedia’s UFA Film & TV Produktion is currently producing four soaps in Germany, including the iconic Gute Zeiten, schlechte Zeiten (Good Times, Bad Times) on RTL and Verbotene Liebe (Forbidden Love) on ARD. “We saw a drop in the dailies two years ago, but people are starting to be interested in them again,” reports Donna Wiffen, the head of worldwide drama at FremantleMedia. “It’s a slight escapism from the downturn. They want that comfort of something that’s familiar but also entertaining.” Wiffen adds, “The thing about daily drama is it’s a tentpole of a station. Broadcasters are defined by their longrunning daily dramas: Coro nation Street, EastEnders, Good Times, Bad Times.” ZDF Enterprises, too, is seeing continued interest in its portfolio of daily drama offer- Passionate pair: Kanal D is looking to expand its portfolio of Turkish dramas, including Lost City, ings, which include Roads to across Western Europe. 42 World Screen 6/13
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Woman, Orth Castle Hotel and White Beauty, among others. “Territories with a high demand for daily dramas are mainly Scandinavia and Eastern Europe,” says Marion Camus-Oberdorfer, the head of content sales international at ORFEnterprise. “They are mostly acquired for daytime (also on the weekend) or late afternoon as well as late-night slots.” But the biggest drama story out of Europe over the last few years has been the rapid emergence of Turkey as a content supplier to be reckoned with. TIME TO SHINE
Animal husbandry: ORF-Enterprise has found slots for its daily dramas, including White Beauty, across Scandinavia and Eastern Europe.
Another German company that has made international inroads with its soaps is Global Screen, most notably with the megahit Storm of Love. Marlene Fritz, the head of TV sales at the company, calls the show “arguably the mostwatched European telenovela to date. Sold in over 20 territories, it has become a scheduling and ratings mainstay wherever it is shown.” BREWING STORM
“Three to four years ago it was really difficult,” says Ozlem Ozsumbul, the head of sales and acquisitions at Turkey’s leading channel, Kanal D, on how the market has transformed. Initially, she says, broadcasters across Europe felt that Turkish content was too domestic, with not enough appeal for their own local audiences. That perception has since changed. “We know that we will be in France, Germany, Italy and Spain soon,” Ozsumbul states, on the heels of the company’s significant success in the Middle East and parts of Central and Eastern Europe. “Turkey has strong cultural, historical and economic relations within the region. In addition, the quality and international subject matter leads our content to be irresistible…among different cultures.” Another Turkish content supplier, ITV-Inter Medya, is similarly bullish about the worldwide reception to the country’s serial drama output. Can Okan, the company’s president and CEO, says that demand from Central and Eastern Europe is strong, and interest has been picking up in key Western European markets for the last few months.
Fritz cites the universal themes of unrequited love, jealousy, betrayal and intrigue as the reasons for Storm of Love’s success, adding, “The one-hour format ensures fleshed-out story arcs, and the emotionally well-calibrated drama strikes a chord with viewers’ hopes and expectations.” The series, which is playing in daytime and access primetime slots across the region, has done particularly well in Belgium, the Baltics, the Czech Republic and Italy, where it runs on Mediaset. The company is also rolling out another daily drama, What Really Matters, produced for RTL, and three weeklies: Second Chance, a TF1 show; Crazy About Love, made for RAI; and Turkish for Beginners, an ARD original. The key thing about all of these titles, Fritz explains, is that “new viewers can easily jump in and don’t lose the thread when they miss an episode. Daily soaps are very often long-running shows with hundreds of episodes. That enables broadcasters to attract a stable number of viewers over a very long period of time.” It’s not just the Germans that have developed a keen sense for daily drama. In neighboring Austria, ORF-Enterprise, the distribution arm of the country’s public broadcaster, has been notching up deals Flower power: ITV-Inter Medya distributes the Turkish drama series Red Scarf, based on on The Wine Tycoon, Julia: An Exceptional a best-selling novel and broadcast on ATV. 44 World Screen 6/13
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Heart to heart: ZDF Enterprises has built up a large portfolio of German soaps, including Roads to Happiness.
“We are in negotiations with major broadcasters and distributors from different Western European territories, especially for 20 Minutes, one of our latest top-quality products,” Okan states. THE BEGINNING
The turning point for Turkish dramas in Western Europe was SVT licensing The End from Eccho Rights. “They ran it at 7:30 p.m., access prime time, for ten weeks,” says Fredrik af Malmborg, the managing director of Eccho Rights. “It worked really well, tripling the average share” for the time slot. “Now we’re in negotiations with almost every public channel in Europe.” Eccho Rights’ association with Turkish series began with the Ay Yapim production Ezel, which af Malmborg says has now been sold into some 50 territories. Its latest offering is Karadayi. “The prices of Turkish drama have probably doubled or tripled since Ezel,” af Malmborg says. “It’s quite an impressive development. The reason why they started to be really good is that the Turkish market in itself is very competitive. They have seven channels that run two original dramas per day. That’s 80 episodes a week, 90 minutes each, for 40 weeks a year.” Af Malmborg concedes that not all of that content is of a level of quality required for sales to major international markets, but the top end of the output “is really good.” There is some editing required, af Malmborg says, for Western European consumption. “They make very long 46 World Screen 6/13
episodes, 90 to 110 minutes. Together with the script writers we edit them down to 45-minute episodes.” Eccho Rights is also selling the format rights to its Turkish drama series, recently clinching deals on Ezel in Mexico, Russia and Armenia. “More and more countries are starting to produce their own dramas,” af Malmborg says. SELLING THE SCRIPT
Indeed, many drama producers and distributors are seeing an uptick in their scripted format sales as broadcasters look for customized, culturally relevant stories to lure audiences, particularly in Central and Eastern Europe. FremantleMedia, for example, is currently producing daily soaps in Hungary (Barátok közt on RTL Klub), Poland (Na Wspólnej on TVN) and Croatia (Ruža vjetrova on RTL Televizija). It was recently commissioned to produce a new soap for RTL Televizija. “All through Eastern Europe there has been that influx of Turkish dramas,” Wiffen says. “The Turkish drama is becoming very expensive now as a tape sale, so we are getting interest [for local dramas] from some surprising territories.” FremantleMedia employs a two-fold strategy, rolling out format-based dramas as well as developing original concepts for specific markets. To ensure its success region-wide— other hits in Europe include Salatut elämät in Finland and Un Posto al Sole on Rai Tre—FremantleMedia regularly brings together its drama production executives.
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Euro romance: Global Screen represents one of the region’s most widely distributed soaps, Storm of Love.
“We do these sessions every six months where we do core brand analysis” for all of FremantleMedia’s daily series, Wiffen says on keeping series fresh for years on end. “That means honing in on, What is this show about? What does it do for our audience? Who is our audience? We look at the younger audience and how we can engage with them and what they want to watch. We’re constantly running competitions online. We do lots of work on our websites. We have a big conference at the end of June where we bring all our head writers and our executive producers from all our daily shows into Cologne to sit down and go through how we keep these dailies refreshed and on air and appealing.” BEYOND EUROPE
Following its European success, FremantleMedia is looking to export its drama expertise globally. It is already producing dailies in Asia and is looking at opportunities to produce in Latin America. Indeed, the region that gave birth to the telenovela is on the watch lists of numerous daily drama distributors. Global Screen, for example, recently concluded a South American format deal on Storm of Love. Kanal D is looking at tape-sale and format opportunities in Mexico, Argentina and Brazil, as well as in Asia, Ozsumbul says. “There is a big demand from Central Asia and Caucasia nowadays,” observes ITV-Inter Medya’s Okan. “Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan and India are the hottest territories. Additionally, we started to get heavy demand from Latin American territories. We have been working on the Latin American market for more than two years and completed our first sales in this region recently. We are now trying to 48 World Screen 6/13
increase our penetration in this region and the U.S. Hispanic markets.” Okan concedes, however, that there are challenges ahead. “Economic difficulties, especially in Eastern Europe, are the biggest challenge for us for selling Turkish series. The ad spend in countries like Greece, Romania and Bulgaria has been dramatically decreasing in the last couple of years.” REALITY BITES
FremantleMedia’s Wiffen notes that the increasing demand for scripted reality is also a concern. “They are sweeping through Europe,” she says, but adds that they “burn themselves out very quickly. The characters aren’t well-defined enough.” As such, they are not the solution for broadcasters looking for long-running series to anchor their daytime schedules. However, Red Arrow’s Richter says, they are cheaper to produce than traditional soaps, and offer a different appeal to audiences. Even though they are scripted, viewers can feel as if they are making a connection with real people. “It’s more gripping and more interesting and more fascinating than [watching] people run around an indoor studio set.” At the end of the day, viewers will respond to strong storytelling—whatever the format, whatever the origin. “Good drama can come from any country,” says Eccho’s af Malmborg. “In spite of sometimes vastly different sensibilities and morals of our business partners, our romantic series are not what one might call ‘steamy,’” says ZDF Enterprises’ Burcksen. “They give off sparks, but no one has to call the fire department to put out the fires of lust and passion!”
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add to them, what’s the plan? As well as working with Company Pictures to develop and distribute the dramas that they have got commissioned—The White Queen and The Village are two that we are selling now—we thought, How do we complement those with dramas that we are acquiring from other producers outside the group, dramas that we are working on at a development stage and hope we are going to get commissioned, or catalogues of drama that we can acquire? It was a conscious strategy and we are lucky that it is bearing fruit. We [have] Foyle’s War—we have acquired the entire library, eight series. It’s an iconic British detective show. There is Hinterland, which we are preselling—it’s our Welsh detective, man of mystery, we don’t know his past—and we are really excited about that.We’ve got those two strong [acquisitions].We also have Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, our female detective from Australia, which has done very, very well. This is possibly our strongest drama lineup since we’ve started, which is really exciting. TV EUROPE: ALL3MEDIA is one of the major suppliers of
drama to the BBC. PEDERSEN: At the moment we have three major series
with the BBC: The White Queen, which will launch [this summer]; The Village, which recently launched; and George Gently, which is [returning] later this year. Having three big BBC dramas is fantastically exciting. TV EUROPE: Having placed these shows on the BBC must
boost your international sales efforts. PEDERSEN: It does. Both The Village and Foyle’s War [have
ALL3MEDIA’s Louise Pedersen By Anna Carugati
A leading independent television, film and digital production and distribution outfit, ALL3MEDIA consists of 18 companies that span the globe, from the U.K., Germany and the Netherlands to Australia, New Zealand and the U.S. Companies including Studio Lambert, Bentley Productions, Company Pictures, Lion Television and One Potato Two Potato produce such hit shows as Undercover Boss, Midsomer Murders, Shameless, Cash Cab and Skins. ALL3MEDIA International sells all this and much more, as it represents a number of top producers and has a catalogue that focuses on drama, factual and entertainment programming and formats. Louise Pedersen, the managing director of ALL3MEDIA International, talks about the company’s increased focus on drama, digital media and the U.S. market.
TV EUROPE: ALL3MEDIA has always had a strong drama
slate, but recently it has gotten even bigger. What has been your drama strategy? PEDERSEN: ALL3MEDIA is lucky because we have a very strong relationship with the drama companies in our group. They provide us with a great selection of drama and have been responsible for Midsomer Murders, for Inspector George Gently, for Skins, which have been some of the iconic dramas we have had in the past few years. Looking at our slate 18 months ago, we thought,These shows are selling fantastically well, so how do we 50 World Screen 6/13
aired] in the U.K., and to be able to show buyers the ratings when we are selling the shows just gives an extra boost because everyone is talking about them. Everyone reads the U.K. ratings and that is fantastic. For me, it feels like drama is having a real resurgence. It felt like everyone was talking about it [at MIPTV]. Perhaps the last few markets had been about the big entertainment shows, but it feels like drama is having a very good moment. It used to be very tough for us to sell drama into the major European dubbing territories. But Midsomer Murders is very successful in Germany, Italy and France. Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries was just sold into France; hopefully we will sell it into Italy as well. It’s our ambition to sell Foyle’s War into those territories. TV EUROPE: Tell us about the other sizeable portion of your catalogue, which consists of factual and factual entertainment. PEDERSEN: We have a great lineup of factual as well, including more series of Undercover Boss. We launched ALL3MEDIA America earlier this year, which is a hub for our ALL3MEDIA companies to develop their business in the U.S., led by Stephen Lambert (Wife Swap, Undercover Boss) and Eli Holzman (Project Runway, Undercover Boss). We are beginning to see shows coming from that operation. The Insider is a great show for us; it’s another version of people going undercover to try and get a job, which has worked very well. Gogglebox, from Stephen Lambert, is a good show for us. Factual, factual entertainment, reality—there is still a market for them. We have a major new entertainment show that launched in May on BBC One in prime time called Reflex. We’re really excited about that. Big Saturday night entertainment shows for BBC One don’t come along often, so that is a big focus for us.
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TV EUROPE: You mentioned America. It offers so many more opportunities than it did ten years ago. PEDERSEN: I think the key thing is being part of an organization that understands how that market works and can give advice and help to all our creatives as they try to make the most of the opportunities in America. Creatively, all the ALL3MEDIA companies are incredibly strong, but to have that under the umbrella of Eli and Stephen, who have got this great track record, is really exciting. As a result of that we’ll get more shows. Secret Princes is another one that we are launching, which Objective, one of our companies, did for TLC in the U.S. It’s British creativity meets American commerciality and glossiness. TV EUROPE: ALL3MEDIA has been somewhat of a pio-
neer when distributing to digital platforms. PEDERSEN: Yes, it has, in distributing to digital platforms and also in developing our app, which is a way for us to get direct to the consumer via an ALL3MEDIA app. It works with connected televisions and allows audiences to access our content directly. That was a fairly pioneering move. My colleagues Andy Taylor and Selma Turajlic have just set up Little Dot Studios to exploit YouTube channel opportunities, and that is an exciting venture for the ALL3MEDIA group. We’ve been suppliers to Netflix, to Hulu, and we really appreciate that business with them. It’s been a really good relationship. For us the question is, How do we develop that relationship further and how do we take advantage of any commissioning opportunities that exist with those big platforms? And also, how to work with local video-ondemand platforms in emerging markets—Russia is a big area for this; so is China—and that is a new way of rolling out our content.That is a really exciting opportunity we are seeing: the [SVOD] market is moving a bit. It’s perhaps moving from a nonexclusive model towards a more exclusive model. And what are the economics of that? What do the license fees look like in that space? That will be a focus for us for the next six months.
and Eastern Europe have led the way in that. The interesting thing as well is that they want to go very, very quickly. So quite often it’s about delivering the shows the day after the British premiere, which is a different model and a different challenge in terms of us being ready to supply it. But it’s a very immediate market and it’s really catering to a global viewing audience and they are constantly aware of what is going on internationally. They know what the new hot show is in the States, and they know what the new hot show is in Britain and they want to see it immediately. And that is a huge opportunity for us. TV EUROPE: How has business been for you in Central and Eastern Europe? PEDERSEN: It’s been a really fantastic market for us in terms of our constructed reality and scripted reality shows. We are probably coming up to 1,000 episodes of the German scripted reality shows—Families at the Crossroads, Cases of Doubt, Berlin: Day & Night—in production in Central and Eastern Europe. So for us it’s been all about the format business. There is a very real demand for programming; probably 80 percent of our business has been in formats in that territory, as opposed to the finishedprogram sales business. It’s been good for us. We’ve had 90-episode renewals on scripted reality in Hungary, 50 episodes more in Russia. You’ve got volume deals; that is extremely valuable. The license fees might be a bit lower, but since you get volume, it’s helpful.
TV EUROPE: Many distrib-
utors are saying that if they can’t sell a show to free TV in a given market, they go to the SVOD players first, develop some awareness for the show, then sell to the major broadcasters. PEDERSEN: Absolutely, I totally agree with that. In terms of getting your programs some awareness, the subscription video-on-demand area is really helpful. Particularly in emerging markets—we would say the Far East and parts of Central 6/13 World Screen 51
On the case: The drama catalogue at ALL3MEDIA International features a number of titles aired by the BBC, including Inspector George Gently, produced by Company Pictures.
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free television. And even worse, broadcasters started to pay less and less, but for us, buying content was as costly as it had been before. We saw that a crunch was coming, and before it was on us, we decided to create channels and create a different path for ourselves than other theatrical distributors.We started very slowly in the Czech Republic and then we penetrated Poland.Today we own an entity called Kino Polska, which is the number one movie/TV series channel in Poland. It is doing very well and has become our flagship channel. On the trail of Kino Polska, we built six Filmbox channels that broadcast on basic, extended basic and premium levels that are available on all platforms. TV EUROPE: How are you providing content to viewers on other devices? FARHI: We have been in the thematic channel business since 1990 and our golden rule is that you earn money when you buy and own content, not when you just sell it.We knew how to buy it, and very early on we started buying rights for TV Everywhere. All our channels have rights to TV Everywhere. This made our life much easier. When people were just starting to understand where the industry was going we were already offering our channels in ways that can be exploited on any device. This allowed us to penetrate, in the last year and a half, more than 40 countries, and we are now operating from the U.S. to Thailand on 200-plus platforms. TV EUROPE: You have also been developing apps. FARHI: Filmbox Live is our main app, and on it you have
By Anna Carugati
Founded in 1990, SPI International has evolved from being a featurefilm distributor to an international content supplier with some 35 channels in 41 countries, a vast on-demand library and cutting-edge apps. President Loni Farhi has guided the company’s growth and established the U.K.-based Filmbox International, which operates movie channels as well as several worldwide thematic channels, and Kino Polska TV, a media company that programs the leading movie channel in Poland. Farhi talks about keeping pace with technology in order to serve both platforms’ and viewers’ needs.
movies, series, documentaries, fashion, fights, art films, extreme sports and music as part of a channel and as VOD. Filmbox Live will cater to everybody’s needs. People do not want to go from one VOD service to another; they want to click on the channel and be able to watch it, and with our app they will be able to do so. And of course they will have VOD access to thousands of hours and will be able to view whatever they want whenever they want, on any device. TV EUROPE: Are you seeing any viewing trends emerging
in the territories you serve? Any talk of cord-cutting? FARHI: Each territory is different, and some countries are
TV EUROPE: Tell us about SPI International’s growth. FARHI: We started in 1990 as a content-sales company. We
began attending MIPTV in 1987, and in those days we were collecting movies for video release in Turkey.Then we started to sell content to Portugal, South Africa and Greece. From there we jumped into Eastern Europe, and then in 1998 we started theatrical releases for the first time in Poland. From Poland we slowly but surely got into every Eastern European country, and since 1998 we have been one of the major independent theatrical distributors in the Eastern European countries. In 2003, we started launching channels and now we are operating more than 35 channels. Seven of them have worldwide distribution and we are adding another four in July, so we will have 11 worldwide channels. TV EUROPE: What opportunities did you see and were able
to act on quickly that maybe other companies did not see? FARHI: When we were selling theatrical films, life was very
good, television sales were fantastic and local content was not so important. Slowly but surely, local content became popular, and our foreign content started to find fewer and fewer time slots on 52 World Screen 6/13
going a little ahead of the rest of the world, but eventually they are all going to meet at the same place;VOD is definitely going to take over, but I do not think this will happen overnight. Today, most of the viewers are still watching TV and getting their subscription from DTH or cable. This is what they are accustomed to and these habits are not going to disappear overnight. And, of course, huge media conglomerates are taking their precautions. They are preparing themselves in a very serious way with video on demand, or getting involved with mobile companies, either acquiring them, or offering their content to mobile entities. So we will see a lot of consolidation coming in the near future. All major DTH and/or cable platforms are trying to line themselves up with a major mobile entity. Cord-cutting is happening! At SPI, we are ready with our Filmbox and entertainment channels. Moreover, with Filmbox Live and other apps, we are ready to serve every type of platform: DTH, cable, IPTV, mobile, smart TVs, linear or VOD, Android or iOS, and more…. So far, we have always been able to see changes coming and adapt as quickly as possible. Now, our aim is to align ourselves with trendsetters and with companies that have major distribution capabilities.
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