The dynamics of the television industry have changed dramatically in recent years, with licensing and merchandising considerations playing a more significant role in project development. Not surprisingly, television markets, such as MIPCOM, have now become must-attend events on the calendars of licensing and merchandising executives. KidScreen polled a cross-section of them to find out why they are attending MIPCOM and what they expect to get out of this television market.
- Helen Isaacson, senior vice president and general manager, international licensing and merchandising, Turner Home Entertainment, U.S.:
‘You can’t separate entertainment products from consumer products anymore. Entertainment property is transported from one medium to another, from one technology to another, and you’ve got to know what’s happening on every single front. Unless you’re [at MIPCOM], you don’t really know what’s happening. You’re not tapping into market trends; you don’t see opportunities emerging. You’ve got to know if you’re in sync with everything that’s happening, not to mention promoting what you’re working on.
‘It’s the one opportunity to see what all your competitors are working on. If you see a trend emerging on the entertainment side, you can have a sense of how that product will translate on the consumer side. You get a feeling of what’s hot, and if a program is hot, you can make the assumption that you can generate a quality consumer-products program, or at least have the opportunity to generate a quality consumer-products program.
‘It’s a very competitive environment, and it’s not everybody that delivers a quality consumer program against a successful television show. I think that a competitive environment favors savvy marketers . . . although no one can dictate a consumer win.’
- Valerie Seban, director of marketing and communications, Marina Productions, France:
‘In France, I think French stations see the potential in merchandising much more now than 10 years ago. . . . They want to participate in merchandising programs. . . . They want a share in the distribution and merchandising rights.
‘MIPCOM is a place where we want to acquire products, where we look for concepts and where we look for partners to produce our own concepts.
‘It is a great place to consolidate relationships and build partnerships.
‘From MIP to MIP, we build up relationships with all the buyers internationally. They get to know us. We can build up trust and that is what we’re really looking to do.’
- Joy Tashjian, president, worldwide merchandising, DIC Entertainment, U.S.:
‘[MIPCOM] gives the U.S. licensors an opportunity to meet with their agents. . . . It also gives us an opportunity to present new programming and to meet with the American toy companies because almost every American toy company attends MIPCOM. . . . It is a big, big opportunity to key in on what is happening internationally. I feel that these shows are far more important than they have ever been before because most American companies are realizing the value of these international trade conferences to visit the various countries and see firsthand what is going on.’
- Jean-Michel Ciszewski, vice president, European TV sales, Alliance International Television, Canada:
‘If you look at the type of budget we have to cover, with the sales, you are lucky if you just cover your budget, but you are not in a profitable position at that level. What is crucial is what comes after. . . . Licensing and merchandising are really part of the whole process. Selling and having the show on the air are really only the beginning of the process . . . . We are really trying to create a huge synergy with our [licensee] clients to create a joint strategy. . . . We are always trying to keep them in the loop.’
- Michael Eve, managing director, Trigger Licensing, U.K.:
‘I go to [MIPCOM to] look for new properties, and to meet with licensors and to see what’s happening on the licensing side, what’s coming through.
‘Everything starts with television. Without television, we wouldn’t be in business. It’s the dog, if you like, and we’re the tail, and the dog wags the tail. It’s very important that we be in tune with what’s happening in television. You have to be aware of the trends and be the first to react. It’s a very competitive business.’
- Susanne Lee, senior vice president, licensing and merchandising, Saban Entertainment, U.S.:
‘[Television] has become an incredibly crowded place, and when studios catch wind. . . of how much money can be generated on the back end [with licensing], they realize that there can be more money made there than in the selling of the shows. That [has caused] the buildup in licensing efforts behind the programming to increase more than ever before.
‘But the truth of it is the marketplace isn’t that big. In this crowded environment, there is going to be an eventual fallout, and those people who survive will have a strong core equity in their products. . . . The real challenge (for Saban) is to create a strategic focus and identify those properties that have the most potential and to integrate that with the rest of Saban. . . to make sure that the support is behind those products.’
- David Cardwell, CEO, Copyright Promotions Licensing Group, U.K.:
‘We go [to MIPCOM] because it is good for client relations to be there. . . . There are very few series that we don’t know about before MIPCOM, mainly because a lot of production companies come to us now in the early stages, in some cases, even before they’ve made a pilot. They want to get an idea of whether [the program] can be successful in licensing and on what level.
‘We also go to MIPCOM because there is still the opportunity that someone will come to us with something, either as a finished series or a pilot, that is so unique and off-the-wall that we will personally help, from a commercial point of view, with finances or even linking them with a television station. For some, we will help to broker a deal to get the series made. . . . There is always something that might come out of the blue.’
- Ken Markman, senior vice president, marketing and consumer products, MTM Enterprises, U.S.:
‘Consumer products [are] an inherent element to the marketing and sales of our products. We are in such close harmony with all of our elements. . . around the world. We are interlinked with our broadcasters, with marketing, with building brands, and with the execution of that brand as it gets translated into a consumer product. There isn’t a better forum [than MIPCOM] for us to be with the left and right side of the equation. One side is the sales equation and the other is the marketing and the building of a consumer-products base. MIP is at the very focus of that, and that is why we are there.’