Last year, French broadcaster TF1 attended its first MIP’ Asia as a passive observer. This year, it moves into the more active role of selling its animated children’s product to Asian broadcasters.
TF1′s success at MIP’ Asia won’t be judged by the number of programs it sells. More importantly, it hopes to plant the seeds for long-term relationships with Asian markets.
TF1 managing director Jules Dov-Attia believes Asia stands to become the most important non-European market for his company.
‘With this continent, it is a long-term partnership that will make it,’ Dov-Attia says. ‘It’s not like Europe. [Europeans] go, they take an interest, they make a decision at once. With Asia, it takes a long time. They have to know [you], they have to trust [you], you have to work to win their confidence.’
Although it has some agreements in place with broadcasters in South Korea and Taiwan, TF1 has discovered that laying foundations with other Asian territories presents challenges that differ with each market. For example, in Japan, the French broadcaster faces a very protective market with little room for outside producers, and American production houses usually snatch whatever room remains.
As it prepares for MIP’ Asia, TF1 understands the potential that the Asian market offers and is working to be the pre-eminent French programming presence in the region. Fortunately, TF1 comes armed with an impressive track record of success.
‘The Asians come to us because they have heard that TF1 has very high-quality programs in Europe and maybe they are looking for an alternative to American programs,’ he says. ‘They want to know who we are and why our programs are so successful in our country.’
Among the animated series TF1 is bringing are Spirou, based on the famous European comic strip, Nighthood and The Little Witches.
Dov-Attia believes that the pressure to sell at MIP’ Asia is much lower than at the MIP markets in Cannes, France. MIP’ Asia gives TF1 a chance to sit down and talk to its Asian partners about their needs. ‘Of course we’d love to sell,’ he says, ‘but another purpose is to know [our partners] and to make them know us.’