MIPCOM 2017 wrap: Trends and drivers

This year’s MIPCOM market closed in Cannes on 19 Oct with one chart-topping trend from Asia: unprecedented interest in global relationships and collaboration. 

Although changing circumstances in China and Korea are a driving force, the noticeable shift in attitudes is not only because Korean companies continue their frantic search to fill the hole left by the ongoing China freeze. Or because co-development, as difficult as it is, is in high gear for various reasons, including the effort to comply with China’s IP-ownership (as in, China has to own everything) regulations. 

MIPCOM newcomers this year, including Thailand’s BEC World chief commercial officer Ron Kamnuanthip, indicated a different level of commercial interest layered on top of the regular (and thriving) trade in content licensing.  

The Philippines is also exploring a new agenda, possibly (hopefully, some say) supported by government trade bodies eager to do for their creative industries what Korean, Singaporean and Japanese governments have done for years. At MIPCOM for the first time, Philippines' Department of Trade and Industry assistant director, Anthony Rivera, said opportunities to support the domestic media industry were being explored. 

Some aren’t waiting:  ASI Studios put its hand up in a bigger way than usual for the Philippines for a share of attention for new animated series Barangay 143. Meanwhile, ABS-CBN’s finance head, Catherine Lopez, made her MIPCOM debut this year, clearly interested in expanding international efforts under new boss Macie Imperial.  

Meanwhile, out of the Middle East, Qatar-based satellite company EshailSat walked the floors for the first time looking for French content to drive business in the Middle East and North Africa. 

Asia’s expansion drive was led by China, whose presence was once largely confined to a safety-in-numbers national pavilion. Leading the spread beyond MIPCOM’s famed basement “bunker”, production powerhouse Huace made an upstairs appearance. With that dyke broken, others are likely to follow. 

Japan also increased its profile, driven by the Tokyo Olympics next year and public broadcaster NHK’s relentless push towards 8K as much as by the success of Nippon TV’s Mother scripted format in Turkey. 

Not so much expansion for Korea, which remains plagued by domestic labour disputes. Ongoing strike action, obvious at the BCWW show in Seoul in September, spilled out of Korea in October. Clients and partners reported a shrunken MIPCOM presence from MBC, one of Korea’s big three free-TV broadcasters.    

Deals made public during the MIPCOM week show lots of life left in linear in Asia at the same time as on-demand dominates headlines and the world moves further into its blended entertainment future. 

Announcements included the first ever linear carriage for Nickelodeon. Perhaps ironically, the first platform to give Nick a linear landing is subscription streaming platform dTV-Channel. dTV-Channel is operated by Japanese telco NTT Docomo. The linear channel is scheduled to go live in the first quarter of 2018 with a slate of iconic Nickelodeon titles, including SpongeBob SquarePants, Dora The Explorer and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.  

In Singapore, A+E Networks expanded its footprint with telco Singtel, which added five English-language linear entertainment channels – History, H2, Lifetime, Crime + Investigation and FYI – to its set-top-box/mobile platform. 

The expanded channels profile in Singapore came three days after A+E unveiled its two new wholly owned Korean channels – History Korea and Lifetime Korea – based out of Seoul. 

The Korean channels and original productions are part of the U.S.-based programmer’s most significant Korean initiatives in its long-running business in the country. Last year, A+E Networks invested US$15-million in local production house iHQ and acquired the two channels that have now become History and Lifetime in Korea.

For A+E, like others, MIPCOM marked the start of a whole new era of engagement in and out of Asia.