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TVWeek.com is proud to welcome a trio of prominent executives who will be our eyes and ears on the French Riviera at this year’s MIPTV international television market.

The three companies these gentlemen represent all figure to be involved with some of the biggest deals to take place in Cannes, whether it’s program acquisition, sales, technology, or developing new platforms.

Mr. Neil Braun is president of distribution and marketing for Starz Media, a U.S. company heading to MIP for the first time. Sean Cohan is senior VP, International for A&E Television Networks and will be at the market with the goal of managing and expanding A&E Television Networks’ brands and services outside the U.S. Greg Moyer serves as general manager of Voom HD Networks, and will be at MIP to explore new avenues for his brand.

As the world gets smaller, all three of these companies figure to play bigger roles both within the United States and around the world. Their blogs will provide insights to the market that you won’t find anywhere else.

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Trickle Turns into a Flood

April 19, 2007 5:36 PM

Neil Braun, Starz at Cannez

Wednesday’s trickle of departures turned into a flood Thursday, as the MIP market more or less wound up by the end of the day today. A brief power outage in the area around the Palais, including in the Riviera Seaview where our stand is located, seemed to signal that it was time to pack up and head home, although many attendees didn’t need the hint.

People were stuffing boxes, taking down fixtures, closing up shop. One Starz Media executive saw a jazz trio setting up in one hallway, even as the stand around them was being dismantled. Apparently they were going to be playing farewell music.

Before I get on my flight back home Friday, here are a few final thoughts about this MIP, and how Starz Media did in its first time here:

• Our sales team has been busy right from the start, and it continued into Thursday night. We all but closed a number of market sales (some final details remain to be worked out), continued and even intensified discussions in other territories, and had a productive week overall. Clearly, the proliferation of channels continues to demand programming to fill additional time slots. If the new media channels – broadband and wireless – start to gain financial traction, they’ll enter the buying activities too in the not too distant future. In short, outlets are ready and eager to buy.

• Just as evident is that quality matters. So much of what’s available here is indistinguishable from everything else. That means it’s important to stand out, especially with top stories and production values. With home-grown production booming in many countries, local broadcasters there are under no pressure to buy programming unless it meets a high standard. Feedback from buyers throughout the market was that standards are rising, whether the properties are aimed at television or the still strong DVD market.

• International co-productions make a lot of sense. In addition to selling our programming here, we also had several very productive meetings with potential partners in overseas territories, about collaborating on new projects. These meetings reaffirm our belief that there is a good business for us in being a one-stop shop for production financing, sales and creative collaboration with producers and networks. With several of the projects we’ve been selling in Cannes, we took what had been someone’s dream project, and provided the necessary elements to make it into an actual production. We continued those kinds of discussions with other interested networks here, and expect at least some of them to bear fruit.

• This market continues to be enormously important for Starz Media, and just about all other companies too. While viewers may often feel like they have an almost one-on-one relationship with the programming they see on TV, the business behind it is a global one. Now more than ever, in fact, successful companies need to meet with foreign buyers and sellers, to stay abreast of a rapidly changing marketplace, and to nourish and expand relationships in ways that phone calls or sales calls just can’t match.

So thank you to all the buyers, producers, aggregators and others we met with here these last few days. We’ll continue these conversations in the weeks and months ahead, and no doubt initiate some new discussions too, ones made possible by events like MIP.

Neil Braun is President of Distribution and Marketing at Starz Media.

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