October 5, 2006
Tombers is Off To MIPCOM
Like thousands of other people who work in and around the
television business, I am off to MIPCOM, the fall version
of the MIP TV Markets, the bi-annual confab that brings together
buyers and sellers.
Like all markets [look at Americas NATPE] it is undergoing
transitions and transformations. From a relatively small and
clubby group of people who landed on the famed Croissette
years ago, it has grown to much larger numbers, approximately
12,000 plus this year. And yet that is down a bit from its
halcyon days in the late 1990s.
The television business is changing and last spring, while
the business was still about the buying and selling of traditional
programming, all the talk was about mobile. In the months
post MIP, there was a dramatic shift in network requests regarding
program proposals. It was becoming expected that producers
arrive for their pitch with broadband and mobile opportunities
plotted out as well as having a sound proposal for a linear
television program. Programs that had all of those elements
conceived moved to the top of the development pile for consideration.
It is a fundamental shift in the way television is perceived.
Discovery Networks USA is beginning to organize itself around
content areas rather than networks. The WGA is
agitating for greater compensation for work by its members
on content for additional platforms beyond television. ABC
has been blazing the way for broadband exploitation of linear
content, beginning with the ability to download complete episodes
to creating intricate content around its series LOST, which
has become the poster child for content in the post
How to cope with all this change, this expansion of definition
of content is an issue facing all producers of
all kinds of programs.
CINE is in conversation with the PGA and the producers of
the REAL SCREEN conference in D.C. to see if it is possible
to produce a panel that addresses these issues for individuals
working in the non-fiction world for that conference.
It is a Wild West sort of content world out there where some
projects are being conceived for the web, so that they might
be tested to see if they can make it to the larger screen.
It is now possible to push content out to mobile phones all
around the world from one source, marrying content and advertising
in a New York minute designed to appeal to the
youthful consumers who are the biggest demographic contingent
of mobile video content consumers.
YouTube.com, Break.com and Heavy.com are internet examples
of content aggregators that are seemingly successfully exploiting
this thing called user generated content, the
explosion of content created by anyone with a digital camera
or camera phone, catching extemporaneous moments of life from
Oprah attempting to fill her car with gas to the results of
mixing Mentos and a liter of Coke. All interesting
These services are also providing other opportunities
including a failed pilot for one network that ended up on
YouTube and found its way to another network which was encouraged
by the positive response on the net. Political discourse is
being changed by the dynamics of video file sharing from non-professionals
as is advertising and seemingly everything else in Western
It is, as Dickens famously noted, the best of times
and the worst of times. The business and content creation
challenges and opportunities for producers are enormous, rapidly
evolving and being influenced and shaped by countless users
who are defining what will be visually and intellectually
There are those who work in television who feel they are
living in a land as ungovernable as DEADWOOD and as confusing
as the plot of LOST. MIPCOM will probably provide no answers
but certainly will give clues as to the direction of the world
in which we live and by which we hope to make a living.