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Content Trends in Europe / Factual Trendsetters

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Good Ideas Are Everywhere Earlier this year I was asked to be part of the MonteCarlo Television Festival’s pre-selection committee—a group that helped choose which programs would become Golden Nymph Award nominees. The category I was asked to judge was long fiction programs.

Ricardo Seguin Guise Publisher Anna Carugati Group Editorial Director Mansha Daswani Editor Kristin Brzoznowski Executive Editor Joanna Padovano Tong Managing Editor Sara Alessi Associate Editor Victor L. Cuevas Production & Design Director Phyllis Q. Busell Art Director Simon Weaver Online Director Dana Mattison Senior Sales & Marketing Manager Nathalia Lopez Sales & Marketing Coordinator Andrea Moreno Business Affairs Manager

Ricardo Seguin Guise President Anna Carugati Executive VP Mansha Daswani Associate Publisher & VP of Strategic Development TV Europe © 2018 WSN INC. 1123 Broadway, #1207 New York, NY 10010 Phone: (212) 924-7620 Fax: (212) 924-6940 Website:

I got to screen TV movies, miniseries and limited series from around the world, but mostly from Europe. I have been writing about the current golden age of television for quite some time, admittedly spearheaded by American writers, channels and streaming services, but for three weeks I was immersed in British, German, French and Spanish fare. And it was a fascinating experience. While the Americans have historically had bigger budgets and vaster resources, and Fargo, one of the limited series I screened, is exceptional in its production values, and Ewan McGregor gives masterful performances playing two separate characters, I was equally captivated by European drama, even though most of it is produced with much smaller budgets. One such example was Le Viol, a French TV movie about two young women who were raped while on vacation near Marseilles in 1974. The story is their quest for justice at a time when rape was not a crime—there was no law against it— because, well, boys will be boys, right? And the fact that the two girls were lesbians, well, they had it coming, right? No. Their courageous attorney fights to get a conviction against the men and succeeds. It is a gripping story. I was also captivated by Spain’s Pau, La Força D’Un Silenci and learned that the renowned cellist Pablo Casals was an ardent opponent of dictator Francisco Franco. From the selection I screened, I found that Continental European drama was largely based on real-life events, while the American and British entries were works of fiction. As I screened, I was reminded of my experience some 15 years ago as a judge for news and documentary programming for the International Emmys. To this day, I recall a German doc about Al-Qaeda cells in Europe. It was eyeopening because it reveals facts that most viewers in the U.S. had not yet heard. I find it essential to hear the other side of a story and be introduced to another perspective, point of view, way of life. Factual programming can do that so expertly. In this issue of TV Europe, we look at the types of nonfiction content resonating with audiences in Europe. You’ll also find a recap of a session I moderated, in which National Geographic’s Christian Drobnyk, CuriosityStream’s Steve Burns and France Télévisions’ Thierry Mino shared their acquisition and coproduction strategies. —Anna Carugati


FEATURES 10 REAL DEAL Factual series and one-off docs are in demand across broadcast networks and digital platforms in Europe.


14 FACTUAL TRENDSETTERS Executives from National Geographic, CuriosityStream and France Télévisions shared their acquisition and co-production strategies in a panel moderated by World Screen’s Anna Carugati.

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dick clark productions, International The Football Show / Fail Army / The Best FIFA Football Awards Soccer has a prominent place in dick clark productions, International’s programming slate. Providing access to some of the biggest names in the sport on and off the field, The Football Show features players such as Manchester United team members Ander Herrera and Marcos Rojo, Chelsea and Spain national team striker Álvaro Morata, and Real Madrid and Brazil national team star Marcelo. “The Football Show will appeal to all demographics, including those with a passing knowledge of the game, as well as its most ardent fans,” says Bob Kennedy, the company’s senior VP of sales and acquisitions. It features vignettes that illustrate how the sport is ingrained in various countries’ cultures. Also, Idris Elba will, once again, host The Best FIFA Football Awards. “Football fans all over the world will see the best players, managers, green carpet interviews, highlights of the 2017-18 season, ambassadors of football and A-list celebrities all under one roof to celebrate the world’s most revered sport,” Kennedy says. A panel of experts will select the top male and female players of the year and other winners. The clip show Fail Army, meanwhile, “has been a tremendous success worldwide and with the rights now available for CEEMEA free-TV broadcasters, the time is perfect to introduce the series to an even larger audience,” Kennedy says.

Fail Army

“While we enjoy great success with our awards shows in the region, we have an impressive new slate of nonfiction series that we believe will also resonate.” —Bob Kennedy

Eccho Rights


Stiletto Vendetta / Cennet / Prisoner of Love Three Turkish dramas are among the highlights that Eccho Rights is bringing to NATPE Budapest International: Stiletto Vendetta, which comes from Ay Yapim; Cennet, made by Süreç Film; and Prisoner of Love, from Karamel Yapim. Stiletto Vendetta has already been sold into a number of territories across Central and Eastern Europe, according to Fredrik af Malmborg, the managing director of Eccho Rights. “Stiletto Vendetta is a beautifully produced drama [that] appeals to both traditional Turkish drama buyers looking for romance and relationship stories, but it also has an edge and a glamour that makes it stand out,” he says. “Cennet is another series that has triumphed in Turkey, with its tense mother-daughter relationship drawing viewers in week after week.” Prisoner of Love, meanwhile, has been enjoying success for the past two years in Turkey and is a popular daytime drama in the country. “The series premiered in Georgia a couple of months ago and is performing remarkably, scoring an average share of over 35 percent each day,” says af Malmborg. The company has a range of other international shows on offer at the market: “As well as [these] Turkish titles, we are representing an increasingly diverse portfolio of series, and we are bringing amazing series from Western Europe such as Conspiracy of Silence and El Accidente,” adds af Malmborg.

“We look forward to speaking with local producers about their projects as we continue to look into new avenues to diversify our lineup.”

—Fredrik af Malmborg


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Kanal D International Price of Passion / Tales of Innocence / Wounded Love A hitman named Ferhat and an idealistic doctor, Asli, meet one day in an unexpected way in the drama Price of Passion. Exploring corrupt relationships, ambition and power, Price of Passion “appeals to female audiences with its strong, character-driven and intriguing story,” says Kerim Emrah Turna, the director of international content sales and business development at Kanal D International. “The love between Asli and Ferhat became a social media phenomenon with the #AsFer hashtag. The chemistry between the characters and their sarcastic dialogue” has been a big draw. Tales of Innocence, meanwhile, was adapted from a Korean drama and follows three characters whose lives are changed forever one night. The period drama Wounded Love stars Halit Ergenç and Bergüzar Korel as a couple whose love is tested.

Tales of Innocence

“We believe that we will grow our penetration in both the CEE and CIS regions with our good content.” —Kerim Emrah Turna

Red Arrow Studios International Lice Mother/Man’s First Friend/Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds

Lice Mother

The scripted comedy format Lice Mother has been a hit in the Netherlands, and Red Arrow Studios International is offering it up to buyers in Budapest. The show is set in the world of the primary school—a mini-society with its own playground rules, competitive parents, strange teachers and the lowest of volunteer jobs: checking the kids for head lice. The company is also presenting Man’s First Friend, a primetime documentary event about the enduring relationship between humankind and dogs, and the social experiment Old People’s Home for 4 Year Olds, which has been recommissioned by Channel 4 in the U.K. “Red Arrow Studios International continues to grow rapidly and expand its global footprint and breadth of genres,” says Henrik Pabst, the company’s president.

“Our new slate for NATPE Budapest delivers a market-leading range of shows to broadcasters across scripted, factual, entertainment, formats and film.” —Henrik Pabst

Rive Gauche Television Something’s Killing Me / Homicide’s Elite / Egg Factor Life-and-death crimes and medical mysteries are at the heart of the puzzling behaviors and diseases explored in Something’s Killing Me. Marine Ksadzhikyan, Rive Gauche Television’s senior VP of distribution and development, says, “Something’s Killing Me takes viewers on a journey that keeps them guessing until the very end as to what has happened.” The company is also showcasing the crime series Homicide’s Elite, following two detectives who have worked on hundreds of murder cases together. “Homicide’s Elite hits the sweet spot of the global audience: their craving for all things crime,” Ksadzhikyan says. There is also the docu-reality series Egg Factor, about couples on a journey to have kids. “Each story is quite unique as it shows the viewer an inside look at the world of egg donation and the twists and turns the journey can take for a couple.”

Egg Factor

“All three programs have global appeal as they deal with subjects that audiences find compelling and unique.” —Marine Ksadzhikyan 24 WORLD SCREEN 6/18

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A Different View


A Different View / Fugitive / I’m Alive The prime-time series A Different View, a highlight from the RTVE catalog, portrays the society of the 1920s through the lens of a finishing school for girls. Meanwhile, Paz Vega stars in the thriller Fugitive. The renowned Spanish actress plays Magda, a woman whose world falls apart at a crucial time in her life, forcing her to make a drastic decision to save herself and her three children. Also a thriller, I’m Alive blends murder mysteries and the supernatural. The story begins when Andrés Vargas, a police inspector, dies as he is pursuing a serial killer. He comes back to life five years later in the body of another police officer, played by Javier Gutiérrez. María Jesús Pérez serves as international sales director for RTVE and is looking to bring these titles to broadcasters in markets around the world.

“With its portfolio of channels and content, RTVE disseminates the best entertainment, news reports and educational content in Spanish throughout the world.” —María Jesús Pérez

Terra Mater Factual Studios Wild Uganda / A Life Among Monkeys / Islands in Time The top highlights from Terra Mater Factual Studios’ slate for Sunny Side of the Doc transport viewers to exotic destinations. Wild Uganda, for example, goes deep into the forests to follow some of the country’s most prominent animal inhabitants. “It’s a terrific watch that lets you into the secrets of Uganda’s natural world,” says Sabine Holzer, the company’s head of specialist factual. The story of Dr. Wolfgang Dittus, a Smithsonian primatologist who went to Sri Lanka in 1968 to study the macaques, is being told in A Life Among Monkeys. Meanwhile, Islands in Time explores the islands of Southeast Asia. “We encounter miraculous volcano birds; the biggest fish in the ocean, the whale shark; kangaroos that climb trees; entrancing birds of paradise; and so much more,” says Holzer.

Islands in Time

“Islands in Time is a three-part journey through the most captivating Southeast Asian islands.” —Sabine Holzer

TV Azteca International Wild By Nature / Round History / 3 Families

Wild By Nature

Viewers can relive legendary moments in the game of football with Round History, on offer from TV Azteca International. The company will also be putting a spotlight on the natural wonders of Mexico in Wild By Nature. The docu-reality series is hosted by actor and naturalist Arturo Islas, who travels through jungles, deserts and other habitats in search of interesting mammals, birds and reptiles. TV Azteca International is also presenting a slate that features the comedy 3 Families. The series has the undertones of a sitcom but also addresses the unexpected events in the daily lives of three families living in Mexico. Further highlights are the melodramas Bad Maids and Nothing Personal, as well as the mystery series Missing Bride.


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Terra Mater’s Wonders of Africa.



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Factual series and one-off documentaries are in demand across broadcast networks and digital platforms in Europe. By Sara Alessi hese days, it seems reality is just as intriguing as fiction—if not more so. TV viewers the world over, Europe included, are eager to devour factual programming, whether it covers true crime, medical scares with a shocking or mysterious twist, history, nature and wildlife or the increasingly not-so-tame real-life events currently unfolding before us. “Across all of Europe, people still have an appetite for history,” says Melanie Torres, GRB Entertainment’s director of international sales, who adds that “current events and hot topics also do well.” She points to GRB’s MIPTV launch of Beyond Boundaries: The Harvey Weinstein Scandal. Similarly, TCB Media Rights’ Holly Cowdery, sales manager for Germany, CEEMEA and Benelux, reports that history is a big seller and titles about World War II, in particular, are “consistently asked for and sell very well.” She notes that for female-skewing channels, lifestyle content such as The Cruise is in demand, with reality shows like Bondi Rescue and Border Patrol also notching up sales in CEE. Richard Tulk-Hart, A+E Networks’ managing director of international content distribution and co-productions, agrees that “in Eastern Europe, in relation to HISTORY content, core history has been most appealing, including [programs about] World War II and evergreen one-offs. In the rest of CEE, we find less demand for real history programming than in Western Europe, though there seems to be a growing trend for crime.” “Across Eastern and Western Europe, there is still a very big appetite for factual crime content,” says GRB’s Torres. “Crime is the gift that keeps on giving for us. Wicked Attraction is a long-running series of ours that a lot of buyers keep on renewing and picking up in different territories as well.”


the region “as DTTs try and test content to refine and build their channel’s personality.” Intervention, Live PD: Police Patrol and Born This Way are among the titles that have piqued buyers’ interest. For Terra Mater Factual Studios, Sabine Holzer, the company’s head of specialist factual, says documentary films that take viewers to exotic or rarely seen locations, including Wonders of Africa, Tasmania: Weird and Wonderful, Wild Canada and Wild Sri Lanka, are among the best-selling programs. “These films often tell a story of certain inhabitants, which means there is a concrete storyline embedded in stunning pictures of landscapes and never-before-seen behavior,” she explains. Rive Gauche’s Ksadzhikyan is noticing that “a lot more factual programming is starting to play around with different styles of storytelling. For example, one of our newest titles, Homicide’s Elite, is a factual crime series that boasts such a high level of production value that it looks more like a scripted procedural. This type of out-of-the-box, fresh storytelling is what seems to be in demand within the region.” Well-known or qualified presenters can also add to the appeal of these programs. Holzer notes that this is true for Terra Mater’s Wild Weather with Richard Hammond. The show sees the titular host, of Top Gear and The Grand Tour fame, explain various elements of the weather, from how wind starts to the key role temperature plays in making the weather itself. Yet, Holzer cautions, “The interest in presenter-led programs also varies from territory to territory. There seems not to be that one particular presenter who works equally well across all territories. Even natural-history legend Sir David Attenborough, who is embraced by British, Scandinavian and Australian audiences, might not be of additional value in other countries, where channels simply prefer non-hosted versions.”



For Rive Gauche Television, crime series with proven track records such as Homicide Hunter, Ice Cold Killers, Evil Twins and Sins & Secrets do very well across the region. Crime stories attached to medical mysteries also have a home on TV screens in Europe, says Marine Ksadzhikyan, the company’s senior VP of distribution and development. “We introduced Something’s Killing Me recently into the CEE market and the reception was outstanding.” The series looks at life-anddeath medical mysteries with a potential criminal twist. Similarly, medical shock docs generate sales in Europe, with Untold Stories of the ER leading the way in that space for GRB Entertainment. Relationship-focused programs are also popular, according to Torres, though she has found less demand for those types of shows in Western European territories. “In Poland, our transactional content is still hugely popular, even after multiple runs,” says A+E Networks’ TulkHart. Some of the top-performing titles that fall under this umbrella are Pawn Stars, Storage Wars and American Pickers. He has found plenty of demand for factual programming in

“Sometimes, a presenter does us more of a disfavor than a favor,” GRB’s Torres concurs. She notes that buyers often prefer programming without a presenter because these titles tend to have a “longer shelf life, and someone who might be very famous in one part of the world might not even be wellknown in the region at all.” When a personality has worldwide resonance, though, having a presenter can work well, as is the case with GRB’s Man at Arms: Art of War. “Danny Trejo is so well-known globally that having him as the host of Man at Arms has worked in our favor,” Torres explains. Since a presenter can either help or hinder sales, some of GRB’s shows have two versions: one with a host and one without, making it simpler for buyers to choose the edition that best suits their needs. This is true for the factual crime series On the Case, with some seasons available without the host, U.S. journalist Paula Zahn. Having a variety of options available to buyers across CEE and Western Europe is key for distributors, even as it seems


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television tastes across the region are becoming more similar than different. Indeed, A+E Networks’ Tulk-Hart believes “Western European broadcasters historically have taken more risk on programming, but even that is evolving in Eastern Europe.” Moreover, the ability to tailor content to viewers’ preferences and make shows feel more local is invaluable. “Local content is always key,” says Tulk-Hart. “Our content is usually used on secondary channels and as library. [Buyers] prefer to select content that they know has performed in the region. There is certainly a desire to localize factual shows as formats and we are constantly looking for ways to service this.” Often, buyers have an eye out for format rights, as it can be cheaper to localize a show. GRB’s Torres has noticed this trend, particularly in Eastern Europe. She explains that buyers will sometimes test out a series by taking the finished tape and subsequently acquiring format rights only after the title has proven popular in the region.


Factual shows that have landed slots in Europe include, from the top, TCB’s EasyJet: Inside the Cockpit, GRB’s Wicked Attraction and Rive Gauche’s Evil Twins.

And when distributors are serving up factual fare in this part of the world, Poland comes to the table with a voracious appetite. “I think there were only a handful of shows from the 40-plus series that we launched at MIPCOM that didn’t find a home there,” says TCB’s Cowdery. Other countries hungry for this type of content include the U.K., Germany, Sweden, France and Spain, according to GRB’s Torres. “I would even throw Italy in there. A lot of our pan-[regional] buyers have feeds into all of these countries, and that is where we get the bulk of our European business,” she says. “Poland is in some ways our biggest buyer for CEE,” echoes A+E Networks’ Tulk-Hart. “The market is incredibly competitive. Securing business with almost all channels in the territory signifies the strong appetite and presence of our factual content. The launch of DTTs a couple of years ago injected another wave of competition in a bid to secure a wide range of factual that they could play with. “In the rest of [the region], we do a lot with Viasat and MTG in Russia and CEE; they tend to buy content we have not aired on our own channels,” he adds. “Hungary is on the increase with nearly double the revenues since last year.” Tulk-Hart says that Croatia continues to be a big buyer of factual as well, while Terra Mater’s Holzer notes that the Baltics also take their share. And it’s not only linear clients that are looking for factual fare these days. “A whole new world of opportunity exists with SVOD, as now we find factual shows living next to all other genres,” says TCB’s Cowdery. Since most SVOD channels still acquire factual rights on a nonexclusive basis, Terra Mater’s Holzer agrees that these platforms open up more possibilities across Europe. “There are single-territory deals as well as multi-territory deals,” she says. “Linear rights and digital rights can still be exploited in parallel, without cannibalizing each other, and there are also opportunities regarding 4K on digital/OTT and SVOD platforms. Especially in Russia and Poland, we see an increasing demand.” “The opportunities are massive simply because there’s some niche content that has an audience, but the audience sometimes isn’t able to see this content if it’s not bought by a linear broadcaster,” says GRB’s Torres. That’s where OTTs come in: they can offer a solution and be a suitable home for content with a very specific target audience. Ksadzhikyan of Rive Gauche finds that “Eastern Europe has had a difficult time embracing the OTT world, but there are more opportunities now than there were a year ago, and these opportunities will continue to grow as more local OTT platforms emerge within the territory.”


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From left: World Screen’s Anna Carugati, National Geographic’s Christian Drobnyk, CuriosityStream’s Steve Burns, France Télévisions’ Thierry Mino and Reed MIDEM’s Laurine Garaude.

By Mansha Daswani

he third annual World Screen Factual Trendsetter Awards were presented to National Geographic’s Christian Drobnyk, CuriosityStream’s Steve Burns and France Télévisions’ Thierry Mino. In a session at MIPDoc moderated by Anna Carugati, group editorial director of World Screen, the honorees offered up insights into how they are catering to diverse audiences in a competitive and fragmented marketplace. Drobnyk is executive VP of programming strategy and acquisitions at National Geographic Channels globally, with a large focus on the U.S. services. These include the flagship National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo WILD. “It’s my responsibility to make sure that our service reflects our brand and that we perform around the world,” he said. Mino is the deputy head of documentaries, international co-productions and acquisitions at France Télévisions. He has a team of 12 programmers responsible for prebuys and acquisitions on one side and co-productions on the other. The team acquires about 500 titles a year for France 5 and another 100 for other services within the group. The team also prebuys or co-produces 50 programs a year. Burns serves as chief programming officer at the SVOD platform CuriosityStream, which focuses on science, history, technology, wildlife and cultural programming. The service is available in 196 countries around the world. Now in its third year, the platform has amassed more than 1,700 titles. “Each year we do 120 hours of acquisitions, presales, co-pros and commissions,” he said. Speaking about their wish lists, Drobnyk referenced science, history, exploration, adventure, travel and natural history. Nat Geo WILD has “built a microcosm of what we call animal caregivers,” with series like The Incredible Dr. Pol, about a veterinarian. “The other place we’re looking is more host-driven series that can take us into some of these areas. One of the challenges we all have on the documentary and nonfiction side is, how do we take this genre to a new generation of viewers? I’m hoping to bring more faces to our air to do that.”


Mino has two sets of wish lists at France Télévisions. He’s looking for titles that will fill a Tuesday evening prime-time slot in the areas of science, space, ancient civilizations and archeology. These will usually be one-off, 90-minute programs, either French productions or international co-pros or acquisitions. He’s also buying for daytime, notably programs on discovery, wildlife and ethnology. According to Burns, CuriosityStream is “always looking for a new production technique that allows people to revisit those topics [of science, technology, wildlife, etc.]. It’s that substance matched with an entertaining storytelling style that we’re always looking for.” Carugati asked the panelists about the split between acquisitions, co-pros and originals at their services. At CuriosityStream, it’s 85 percent acquired and 15 percent originals, encompassing co-pros, presales and in-house productions. Nat Geo used to do more co-pros, Drobnyk said. One recent one, Lost Treasures of the Maya Snake Kings, began as a presale and evolved into a co-production “as we learned more about the project and more about the National Geographic explorers involved.” Mino would like to be doing more co-pros and prebuys but is constrained by budgets. Sometimes a presale can become a co-pro if France 5 determines it wants more editorial input on a project so that it fits its editorial needs. The session wrapped with a conversation on the major challenges in the nonfiction space today. “Steve Burns’ service is getting people to cut cable,” Drobnyk quipped, noting the emergence of digital platforms as a competitor to linear TV channels. “And making content relevant to a new generation of viewers—that’s the key. We look at our content from a multiplatform perspective. We have a relationship with Hulu. We have an incredible app. We program our content with those platforms in mind.” Burns views the level of competition as a “challenge, not a problem.” A complication, he said, is rights issues. “We have to geoblock here and there around the world.”


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TV Europe NATPE Budapest International & Sunny Side of the Doc 2018  
TV Europe NATPE Budapest International & Sunny Side of the Doc 2018