Strike’s Effects Felt by International Buyers

Mar 30, 2008  •  Post A Comment

The writers strike will leave its mark on Cannes this year, as the Mip TV television programming bazaar running there April 7-11 signals the unofficial end of the international sales
The labor dispute may have caused as much as a 40% decline in new inventory on the
market, executives said.
Scripted fare in particular will be mostly off the shelves as program pickups for the fall loom in coming weeks. The change is the next evolution for Mip, which in recent years has presented more of an opportunity to press the flesh than to close a deal for some companies
“We lost four months because of the strike,” said Keith LeGoy, executive VP of distribution at Sony Pictures Television International. “So what you’re seeing now is an attempt for everyone to play catch-up. Unfortunately, that means that there were fewer shows developed and ready for the upfronts. I’d say that there will be between 35% and 40% less new product in the marketplace as a result.”
Of course, that won’t stop the company from bringing series such as “Damages,” “The Tudors” and “Breaking Bad” to the table at Mip. Mr. LeGoy noted that with fewer new shows available for purchase, the demand for returning shows would be higher than normal.
In addition, the opportunity Mip presents for sit-downs with longtime and prospective buyers is irresistible, even with the skyrocketing value of the euro against the U.S. dollar driving up the costs for Americans going to Cannes.
“We are very fortunate to be a major studio and major distributor and have ongoing conversations on a daily, weekly, hourly basis,” Mr. LeGoy said. “That said, Mip represents an opportunity for a lot of people to come together and it’s a great opportunity to take stock on where we are and touch base with the community.”
The sentiment was shared by Armando Nunez Jr., president of CBS International Television, who noted that despite the higher cost of going to the market, he anticipated “a lot of work being done” there.
“It’s going to be expensive,” he said. “From a cost perspective, the euro is making everything jump up in price. But that’s the cost of dealing in the international community.”
From a sales point of view, CBS International TV will be meeting with clients to discuss its development slate for the new fall season, as well as to clean up markets for series such as “Swingtown.”
Mr. Nunez said the writers strike had taken a toll on business.
“The good news about going to Mip is that the strike is now resolved,” he said. “However, the development process has obviously been impacted, as have the episode counts we were able to deliver.”
As development rebuilds, Sony may have more material to talk about at the L.A. Screenings event in May, he said.
Mip, the Marche International des Programmes de Television, takes place annually at the Palais des Festivals in Cannes.


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