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MIP TV round-up: the drama 'bubble' that just won't burst

Non-English-language drama, Virtual Reality (VR) and digital-first content were the hot topics at MIP TV last week, while conference keynoter Roy Price of Amazon Studios revealed exactly what the SVoD service plans to spend on original content. 

Drama remained a key genre with the much-predicted scripted bubble definitely yet to burst. But it is ‘localized globalization’; that is, high-budget local-language production aimed at a global audience that looks set to be the trend with legs. A year ago, ground-breaking German-language drama Deutschland ’83 and its international success was the talk of Cannes, now Sky/ARD/Beta Film-produced Babylon Berlin, due to air in the Autumn, is ready to take up the mantle. With global distribution handled by Beta Film, the €40m German-language production was just one of several non-English language dramas that is ready to go global.

The scene has been set for some time with increasingly expensive dramas needing multiple production partners, often from multiple countries. Global and major pan-regional platforms like Netflix, Amazon and Sky provide the underlying multi-lingual audience demand; while local SVoD competition offering high levels of local content provide the competitive impetus. 

Right on trend, Spain’s Movistar+ agreed global distribution for three Spanish-language originals with Sky Vision, Beta Film and About Premium Content taking global distribution rights to a series each.  And a new venture aimed at grouping buyers for international drama was also launched during MIP. Atrium TV will create a quasi pan-regional platform by grouping regional SVoD buyers to enable them to compete with global platforms when looking for high-cost drama. Sweden’s Viaplay was first to sign up for the club.

Amazon Studios revealed that it would begin production on a number of non-English language dramas for its now global SVoD service. Meanwhile, Turkish drama featured heavily in The Wit’s ‘Fresh TV’ presentation session. 

Turkish fan-power was also illustrated when lovers of cancelled Turkish drama Eternal, sent MIPTV’s Twitter account into overload in an attempt to save the drama.  Oddly enough ‘the power of fans’ was the theme of last year’s MIP, but then it often takes a year or two for a theme to become a trend.

Virtual Reality was one of the main topics of the conference and a VR showcase took up significant floor-space in the lower part of the Palais. A number of content owners seem to have finally grasped that VR needs to focus not on ‘viewing’ but on experiencing, with the likes of Red Bull demonstrating cliff-diving in VR by way of example. Interestingly, kids’ content makers like Turner revealed they are already looking to preempt criticism on the impact of VR world’s on child development by collaborating on research into the topic.

Also taking the chance to showcase their talent were a number of digital-first producers with MIP Digital Fronts becoming a major part of the content presentation sessions. Companies including Jukin Media (People Are Awesome), AwesomenessTV, and Vice put on floor shows, with the key trends being cross-over to TV. 

Finally, that revelation by Amazon Studios' Roy Price on what the service plans to spend on original content. Questioned on the topic, Price revealed: “a lot”.