MIA 2023: Eight Public broadcasters launch drama collaboration in Europe

ZDF (Germany), NPO (The Netherlands), VRT (Belgium), SVT (Sweden), DR (Denmark), YLE (Finland), RÚV (Iceland) and NRK (Norway) announce New8, the biggest drama collaboration ever.

10 OCT 2023

New8 collaboration

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MIA Market hosted an intense second day with multiples initiatives in its four pillars, cinema, documentaries, drama and animation. During the Roman event, eight Public broadcasters launched New8, a groundbreaking drama collaboration among ZDF (Germany), NPO (The Netherlands), VRT (Belgium), SVT (Sweden), DR (Denmark), YLE (Finland), RÚV (Iceland) and NRK (Norway). "New8 is a trust-based collaboration between eight public service broadcasters in North and Western Europe exchanging eight high quality drama series annually, Nordics deliver 4 series, Germany delivers 2 series, and VRT in Belgium delivers 1 series, and NPO in the Netherlands delivers 1 series yearly" said Hans-Jørgen Osnes, Head of International Financing Drama at NRK. "We do this to stay relevant in a highly competitive landscape and to fill the audience expectations. Building sustainable relationships is crucial for us as public service broadcasters, and we openly share our experience and learn from each other in doing so. So we share the same values and the same mission, and through this collaboration we can finance and create high quality drama," he added.

Elly Vervloet, International Drama Expert at VRT asserted that the advantages of this collaboration are numerous. "We are all public broadcasters, we share the same dream, we have the same mission and the same goal. For us, high-end drama series are very important to attract younger audiences," she affirmed. "You all know how difficult and complex and risky it is to finance high-end series, and with this collaboration, we help each other in financing. It's a predictable model," she explained. For the executive, New8 allows the public broadcaster to have access to high-quality drama, "which is very difficult these days in this competitive landscape". They have agreed on a set of rights that they need to reach and to serve their audiences, "t's a win-win," commented Vervloet. On the one hand, this alliance helps the producers in financing the series and allows the public broadcasters to share knowledge and experience among each other. Simone Emmelius, SVP International Fiction at ZDF referred to the streamers. "Their slogan was the limit is only the sky, but they now have to concentrate on earning real money and for that reason is that the weight of reliability is more and more on the shoulders of the public broadcasters who stand for a common culture, a cultural heritage and joining forces is a necessary premise to keep our quality as well as the quantity of programs," she stated. Anna Croneman, Head of Drama at SVT commented that the eight public broadcasters are all known separately for doing high-quality drama, "but with New 8 we've promised to put forward our most entertaining and thought-provoking shows, the most surprising ones, and the target group will be 18 to 45," she said.

In the New8 model, each broadcaster decides which of their series is the best and hence to be distributed by their Nordic neighbours. Examples of great successes are "Exit" and "The Thin Blue Line" who have also had a huge audience outside of the Nordics. Now other EBU broadcast members who are known for hit series in the past like "The Twelve" (VRT), "Red Light" (NPO), "The Crash" (NPO), "Kudamm 63" and "The swarm" (ZDF co-produced) join the drama pool with releases from 2024.

In the panel "The Producer’s Role", Nicholas Weinstock, Founder and President of Invention Studios; Marc Helwig, Head of Worldwide Television at Miramax, and David Levine, Chief Creative Officer at Anonymous Content, shared their experiences and analysed the dynamic and changing production landscape. Helwig commented that Miramax is a joint venture beIN Media Group and Paramount. "My mission is to look for opportunity in the library of Miramax films. We're not in the remake business, we're in the business of looking for new creative ideas that are relevant today, that are inspired by the IP, that can launch a series and television content in a way that seems, that's exciting to people," he clarified. Miramax executive also commented the company is very focused on the US, "but beyond that, Europe is a significant focus as well," he said. Weinstock mentioned he started Invention Studios with a more writer-centric approach." I have seven executives and they're all writers," he said. "The idea is to create a global think tank of writerly thinking people to work with writers. So it's a bit of a social experiment. It is really fun and tends to be more global," he added. David Levine was behind great HBO shows like "True Detective", "Westworld", "Game of Thrones", "True Blood" and wants to follow the legacy of Steve Goldman from Paramount. "He really left this amazing ecosystem behind when he passed with representation and brand work and a studio with a wonderful relationship with Paramount. And since then, we've just been growing around the world" he commented. "We're trying to operate in to operate in the US the same way the company consistently operated. We put together what effectively feels like longer movies and that's been the breadth and the bandwidth of the company until I got here. Coming out of the strike, I think the television business has evolved significantly and I think our slate will be reflective of that" he said. He also added that Anonymous Content series television tend to be driven by a director. "It's really driven by a singular focus in execution, not time, not space, but vision," he asserted.

The experimented producers agree about the contraction of the industry. "We're going to go into a period of further contraction when it comes to international arrangements; I think that's just natural. We make individual choices about who can we align ourselves with, who has the right point of view in terms of what we're trying to do, and then find a business model for that opportunity," explained Miramax executive.For Levine, all places are looking at what it means to distribute and reach an audience and evolving their strategy. "Our adaptability and our nimbleness have been almost a company hallmark, but also you learn hard lessons of where you're in relationships and they need to evolve and become something else. You need to be able to approach the marketplace with a different posture and a different look. The biggest thing in a contraction is the opportunity for the people who provide and give. And I hope our biggest opportunity is that we're a fairly giving company and we're a fairly providing company, particularly for source development and now distribution and documentation," he said.

In the afternoon, Nicole Clemens, President of Paramount Television Studios (PTVS) and Paramount+ Original Scripted explored her professional career and her key role in the Paramount Global media corporation, outlining the Studios’ portfolio, studio interface with streamers including third party platforms, and diving into Paramount IPs and franchises. "We have various studios that are pipelines that funnel content to Paramount Plus, also to Showtime, also to BET, also to CBS, we all work really closely together, there's a lot of synergy where we are all very fluid working with each other," she said. The Paramount executive affirmed they are really supportive of the international team and especially if they think they have a show that can play well on the global stage. "We'll get involved early and work together on the creative as we did on 'The Gold' or 'Miss Fallaci'" she commented. "Global shows start local, and you have to be specific. It has to appeal to the market that it was born in, and then it has to have some resonance thematically," she remarked.

Among the new Paramount content, Clemens anticipated the fourth season of "Jack Ryan" for Amazon; the second season of "Jack Reacher" which season two will air in December; a new show in Alex Cross, based on the Patterson novels; "Time Bandits" with Taika Waititi, Jemaine Clement, Ian Morris and Lisa Kudrow and "Before", a psychological thriller starring by Billy Crystal with supernatural undertones. Clements affirmed that Paramount+ is looking global shows that play to the entire US. "Because we're a newer service, we really want to do ongoing returning series, we're not looking for limited series In the US, we're really looking for contemporary ongoing series,” she confirmed. On the half-hour space, they look for big loud funny hard comedy. "CBS Studios has 'Frasier' which is launching this month. In a world of so many shows you do need to break through and so it's helpful to have a big star or recognizable IP, but it certainly doesn't need to be. I'm a firm believer in original ideas with the right voices and we are looking for that," she concluded.