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Is MIPTV on Its Last Legs?

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Since 1965, MIPTV has been as regular as Thanksgiving. The international television market, held in Cannes every spring, has been a fixed part of the global industry calendar for decades. But despite the obvious appeal of the French Riviera, MIPTV is in trouble. Attendance at the market, which counted more than 10,000 official registrations in 2018, was barely half that last year, when 5,510 TV execs made the trip to Cannes (another hundred or so participated online).

Shifts in the international TV market — the decline in world-conquering U.S. series (remember CSI and The Big Bang Theory?) and cost-cutting by global streamers — have disrupted a market designed to meet the needs of an earlier era.

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MIPTV flourished in a time when U.S. studios needed a spot to present and sell their big new spring shows and where the super-indies (Fremantle, Banijay, All3Media, ITV Studios) could roll out their new nonscripted juggernauts in the hope of landing deals with U.S. and international networks. Along the sidelines, independent production companies like StudioCanal, Keshet and Beta Film could launch big international series to try to secure co-production partners and international buyers to close the gap between the commissioning fees of the local broadcasters and the shows’ ambitious budgets.

But the global TV world of 2024 looks quite different. A sluggish television ad market combined with cost-cutting has led to what Jane Featherstone, of U.K. production group powerhouse Sister (Chernobyl, Gangs of London), speaking at MIPTV last year, called a “painful period” of falling commissioning fees combined with still-rising production budgets, driven by inflation and talent scarcity.

“The TV bubble has burst,” StudioCanal boss Anna Marsh said in her 2023 MIPTV keynote address, foreshadowing the end of Peak TV as noted by FX CEO John Landgraf in February. That’s when he released his network’s annual tally of U.S.-produced scripted original series, showing that last year the total number of broadcast, cable and streaming shows made for adults fell 14 percent from 600 to 516.

With budgets tight, many companies view MIPTV as an expense they can avoid. Netflix, Amazon, Disney and Sony won’t be on the Croisette this spring. Banijay, the world’s largest independent production and sales group, hasn’t attended since 2019.

“There are simply too many markets,” notes Banijay Rights CEO Cathy Payne. “There are more effective ways of allocating our resources.”

One of those ways is the London Screenings, a less formal setup held in late February where producers do slate presentations for international buyers. (Unlike MIPTV, the event charges no admission fee, and the scheduling is largely handled by the buyers and sellers themselves.) That event has become so big, MIPTV is reportedly looking to move its spring market to the British capital to piggyback on its success. MIPTV organizer RX France refused to confirm or deny the reports of a move, saying only that “we are always looking to evolve our markets to meet the global industry’s needs. At present, RX France has no announcements to make regarding new or existing markets.”

Whatever challenges face the Cannes television market, the lineup of new international productions premiering at MIPTV this year is impressive, including a glossy production of Gill Hornby’s best-selling novel Miss Austen from the BBC and Federation Studios; StudioCanal’s supernatural World War I action series The Sentinels; Keshet International’s sci-fi thriller Valhalla Project; and the Czech period dramedy We’re on It, Comrades! from ZDF Studios, about American and Soviet experiments into paranormal activities during the Cold War. Canneseries, the TV festival that runs before MIPTV and was launched in 2017 in part as a way to boost interest in the market, also has a stellar program this year, including premieres of Disney+ fashion biopic Becoming Karl Lagerfeld with Daniel Brühl, Apple TV+’s Franklin with Michael Douglas and, from Westworld creators Jonathan Nolan and Lisa Joy, Amazon MGM’s video game adaptation Fallout.

If this year is to be the end of an era, MIPTV will be going out in style. 

This story first appeared in the March 27 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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