NATPE Miami 2021’s session “Closing a BIG Deal” focuses on how producers and distributors have approached deal-making for content acquisition and distribution sales. The two-part session featured executives from ITV Studios, ViacomCBS, and The CW, among others. All of the executives agreed that quality content is at the heart of deal-making relating to content acquisition and distribution sales.
President of ViacomCBS International Studios and Networks Americas JC Acosta announced that the conglomerate currently has 140 projects in development, composed of a combination of biopics, novel adaptations, and premiums, among others. Given its distribution ability, the company is currently having conversations with showrunners to increase the number of opportunities in which content creators can be showcased in various regions, and is set to establish and announce production hubs later this year to build efficiency and format volume.
Acosta also explained some of the characteristics that ViacomCBS seeks when acquiring content, which includes content that correlates with previously identified demands, implementing storytelling that resonates with a global audience. As the leading provider of thrillers and drama, ViacomCBS is set to release the following titles: for scripted, true-crime series, “The Gold,” Spanish title “The Gypsie Bride,” and “Artemisia.” Among its streaming movie catalog, “A Woman In Black Boots” and “Spinoff” will be offered, and “Cecilia” will debut on Pluto TV. Acosta also mentioned the release of several documentaries, which are high in demand. “38 stars” serves as an example.
CEO of Zig Zag Productions Danny Fenton said that the most important part of navigating through deal-making amid the pandemic is to be innovative and willing to try new strategies. Despite a slow-down in production, the executive reported no shortages in production. On the contrary, the company, with 50% of its line of business in the US, experienced a more successful year in 2020 than the year prior. Aside from his urgency for companies to become adaptable, Fenton also stated that coproductions and sales have become an easy task amid the pandemic while closing a deal has become a challenge.
According to President & CEO of Anvil 1893 Eric Schotz, the single most important component to consider when acquiring content or distributing is whether the format has a good IP. He also highlighted the additional costs of safety protocols in a production setting, which are set to often surpass USD 1 million. President of Global Entertainment Maarten Meijs suggested that ITV studios often sees the advantage in using one IP for several different buyers, or a single one, such as an SVOD service, for example.
Executive Vice President, Program Planning, Scheduling and Acquisitions The CW, Kevin Levy revealed some of the strategies that the company has taken to ensure security in its deals. An example was its decision to postpone its Fall 2019 launch. The CW has continued to offer new content rollouts each week in an attempt to stay engaged. Some of the elements it considers when acquiring content is ensuring that the shows are completed to avoid production delays, quality execution, and the appropriate genres.