Gaumont is attending MIP’ Asia for the first time in a move to develop an ongoing presence in this swelling television marketplace.
‘The Asian television market is exploding,’ says Mickie Steinmann, vice president, international television sales for Paris-based Gaumont. Terrestrial stations, satellites and pay-TV channels are increasing in number. Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan and other Asian countries have ‘strong and growing economies’ to support this expansion. And Vietnam and India, home to about 750 million people, are barely tapped in terms of their potential. No other television marketplace in the world, says Steinmann, is growing at such a pace.
To date, Gaumont has done little to take advantage of this opportunity. ‘This company is underrepresented in Asia,’ says Steinmann. Its live-action drama series Highlander carved inroads four and a half years ago, but dealings since have declined due to a lack of suitable programming.
With two new animated series-Home to Rent and The Magician-and the popular Sky Dancers and Dragon Flyz to offer, the company is looking to develop long-term relationships, involving frequent travel, with Asian clients. ‘We are very much interested in doing business in the region,’ says Steinmann.
But working with some territories can still be difficult, Steinmann claims, because they have limited choices of broadcasters or strict regulations concerning language, nudity and religious and political content. (Before joining Gaumont early this year, Steinmann handled international television sales for Fox Lorber Associates in New York and visited the two previous MIP’ Asia shows.)
Gaumont is approaching MIP’ Asia like any other market. ‘We go out to sell with the policy that we treat everyone the same,’ says Steinmann. The company is bringing its full catalogue as opposed to showcasing specific products. But at MIP’ Asia it is keeping a more open schedule to allow time to meet new clients as they walk past its booth and is steering away from the heavy sell. Buyers may be wary of this tactic, says Steinmann, because ‘the Asian marketplace has been somewhat overlooked.’
The merchandising potential of its programs will be important when meeting buyers from Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea, where ‘merchandising plays a huge role.’ Spinoff opportunities tend to be a secondary consideration to the value of a series for southeast Asian countries.