Leo Barraclough: MIPTV outlook – The upside of the downturn?

Leo Barraclough: MIPTV outlook – The upside of the downturn?

This is a first post from freelance journalist Leo Barraclough, formerly of Variety, Screen International & Broadcast.

The recession continues to wreak havoc in the international TV community, as elsewhere. That said, some are arguing that the downturn in the fortunes of the broadcasters may have an upside for TV distributors. The reasoning goes as follows: as original content is more expensive to develop and produce than acquiring finished shows or picking up formats, broadcasters will be buying more at MIPTV this year.

I am yet to be convinced but will be investigating further in the next week and will report back.

Despite the recession, broadcasters and producers continue to fund digital production divisions, and experiment with interactive entertainment. MIPTV hosts the International Digital Emmy Awards on March 30 and last week I spoke to one of the jurors of the non-fiction section, Fabienne Fourquet, director of digital media for AETN Intl. She told me about the growing number of news and current affairs programmes that have introduced interactive elements to their shows. The non-fiction nominees include Al Jazeera English News‘ “U.S. Election Special” and “Gaza-Sderot,” which documented the lives of people in Gaza and Israel.

Fabienne also pointed to the increasing use of interactive elements among programmes that have an older demographic. So it seems like the internet is broadening its appeal, and offering producers new, albeit modest, revenue streams.

I also spoke to a number of creators of original online content, who are trying out various revenue models and exploring the creative possibilities that the internet offers. It recalled the early days of CG animation and watching “Ice Age 2” again on TV this weekend I was reminded of the distance that sector had travelled. So production companies and broadcasters with digital production arms should stick with these pioneers. They may be generating miniscule profits now, but who knows what may lay ahead.