NEM Dubrovnik 2023: The focus over the CEE region business

The market offered an outlook about Central and Eastern Europe current landscape, their most urgent needs and the strategies to be a competitive region.

7 JUN 2023

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On the third day of NEM Dubrovnik, executives for major CEE players share their opinions about what kind of stories the region wants to tell the world. Filip Styczyński, Director at TVP World; Jason Jay Smart, Political Adviser and Special Correspondent, Kyiv Post; Sergej Sumlenny, Founder and Co-director of European Resilience Initiative Center (ERIC) and Robert Šveb, General Director of Croatian Radiotelevision (HRT) participated of the conversation. They discussed the vision they have about Eastern Europe and the current situation in this region. Filip Styczyński said he always considered Poland and Eastern countries as part of the West world. Jason Jay Smart mentioned that in the US, the East Europe was always related to the Socialism but “this has changed in the last years.” “Easter Europe always have their fears, in Croatia we fear a potential war as we had many years, the war un Ukraine has a tremendous impact in this region as well the climate change, said Robert Šveb. Talking about the stories from Easter Europe, Šveb said “I’m sure we can coproduce inspiring stories and encourage people to do it with this region”.

"Must-Offer in Croatia" was another highlighted discussion moderate by Krešimir Partl, State Secretary, Ministry of Culture and Media, Croatia with the attendance of Tonko Obuljen, President of the Council, at HAKOM; Nikola Klisović, Director of Legal Affairs & Wholesale of A1 Croatia; Siniša Đuranović, Member of the Management Board & CCO at Croatian Telecom; Dražen Mavrić, CEO at Nova TV and Tonko Weissmann, Executive Vice President at RTL Croatia. They shared their experiences after the law implementation of must offer and vertical integration in Croatia.

The storytelling was present in the panel Exclusive Story by Telekom Srbija where Jasmina Lakobrija, Director of Feature Content Production and Sales at Telekom Srbija; María García-Castrillón-Argüelles, Chief of International Business Development of Dopamine, the writer Fernando Sancristobal, Marina Williams, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of Asacha Media Group and Emilio Amaré, General Manager at Plano a Plano broght new details about "Cicatriz" ("Scar"), an ambition coproduction between Spain and Serbia based on Juan Gómez-Jurado. Asacha Media Group (AMG), has joined Plano a Plano and Dopamine to work on this ambitious new series, which will hit screens through a strategic alliance with AMG. "Scar" is an action thriller about a brilliant but reclusive businessman on the verge of making millions, who meets a young woman bent on a long-planned mission of revenge. The series, which will feature an outstanding international cast, has been developed by renowned writers Pablo Roa and Fernando Sancristóbal (Toy Boy", "La Casa de Papel" and "Vis a Vis.” "'Cicatriz' is a fast-pace thriller drama of eight episodes with all the ingredients to connect the audience around the word", said Esther Agraso. "It's an international story with global appeal," she added. "The story is fascinating, the book is popular in Serbia and we are also get involved in the creative part, as in the casting as example," said Jasmina Lakobrija.

At the same day, Maria Rua Aguete, Executive Director, Technology Fellow at Omdia discussed the End-user Pricing Wars with Anna Lenerova, Head of Content - IPTV & O2 TV Sport at O2 Czech Republic; Peter Wassong, Head of TV Content Europe at Deutsche Telekom AG and Bill Wijdeveld, Vice President, Platform Content Services at M7 Group. For Peter Wassong, TV is super relevant and positive. "We always want to aggregate the best content for our customers." he said. Wassong also see the content production is a differentiator in this crowded landscape, but "as Telco is difficult to do it because we need skills and the budget for that",he said. Anna Lenerova expressed that Telcos have to take risks not only acquiring content but also producing it, “ we have also prepar fantastic products for our customers.”

As the previous days, NEM Dubrovnik 2023 edition stood out for its keynotes and on June 7 was the turn of SkyShowtime, CME, Beta Film, but also BBC Studios had its showcase and The Walt Disney Company its screening. Monty Sarhan, Chief Executive Officer at SkyShowtime asserted that they saw an opportunity in the market to launch the streaming service worldwide. "It was a challenge because we had to bring the team together and organize the content". SkyShowtime is a join venture between Comcast and Paramount Global, "everyone knows the brands of these companies, we bring the best of both companies together and decided to join forces, it's the best strategy to do this," he said. "We have a lot of original content from Sky and Paramount in the same place, as well as SkyShowtime originals such as 'A Besugò'; 'Bose'; 'Las Invisibles'; 'Lust'; 'Warszawianka'; 'Los enviados', 'XHOXB'. We try to get the best of the best, the best of the international content as well the best of the local content, we are focused on telling amazing high quality stories, unscripted and scripted, we are open to both,he said.

Dušan Švalek, Deputy CEO at CME introduced CEM, Central European Media Enterprise, which is the leading media and Entertainment company in Central and Eastern Europe. "We have presence in 5 countries, Czech Republic with 11 channel and 36.1% TV audience share, Slovakia with 5 channels and 29.6% TV audience share, Slovenia with 6 channels and 45.5 % TV audience share; Romania with 7 channels and 30.6% TV audience share; Bulgaria with 6 channels and 30.1% TV audience share and Croatia with 8 channels and 25.7% TV audience share. Across our 43 channels, we reach 49 million people across the region", he said. ln 2023, CME has produce 5300 hours with 155 local projects among news, sport, and entertainment. "Our success is mainly on strong local content production, as evidenced by the significant growth of our local content SVOD platform Yoyo," he asserted. "We are also investing into the local creative talents to ensure our future production capabilities. We launched CME content academy to form young people in the audiovisual industry," he mentioned. CEM has started to apply a new strategy with new appointments (Stella Litou as CEO CME Adria), changing the schedule to increase audience stability, improving the quality of the news and informative programmes and introduce new entertainment formats.

Moritz von Kruedener, Managing Director at Beta Film featured the new and traditional content from the company like “Atlantic Crossing”, “The silcence”; “Golden boy”,” Gomorrah”, “Sisi”, “Perfect Life”, “Hotel Portofino” and “The Swarm”. “We don’t want just to come to the region and make money and get back home, we want to invest in the region, we want to have partner in the territories and produce local content. We are very open to different kind of partnership”, he said. Regarding the coproduction model, von Kruedener stated “as early as we can is better for us when we get involved in coproduction.” The executive refered to the epic drama series “Rise of the Raven” ambitium production. “ It’s a high level budget production with ORF is coproducer,” he said. Produced by acclaimed Robert Lantos (Crimes of the Future), shooting for the multimillion Euro series is underway near Budapest with more than 600 actors and stunt people in front of the camera. The series stars Hungarian discovery Gellért L. Kádár as Janos Hunyadi, the army commander who defeated the vast Ottoman troops in the Battle of Belgrade in 1456. He is also for whom the noon bells toll at churches across the world to this day. Opposite Kádár is Hungarian TV, film, and stage star Vivien Rujder as Hunyadi’s life partner Elizabeth Szilagyi. The ten-hour epic series, a panoramic celebration of medieval times, is financed by the National Film Institute of Hungary and Beta. It is produced by Serendipity Point Films, Twin Media, HG Media, MR Film, and Beta. Coproducers are Hungary’s TV2 Network, who will broadcast the in Hungary and Slovenia, and co-producer ORF, who will broadcast in Austria. Von Kruedener also talked about the second season of emotional drama “The Silence” wich is going into second season, and  "In Her Car", a co-production between Starlight Media Gaumont, France Télévisions and ZDF, that is currently shooting in Ukraine and draws on lived experiences of Kyivans scrambling for shelter following the Russian invasion in February 2022. Each episode follows local therapist Lydia (played by How is Katia? star Anastasia Karpenko) shuttling a different person to safety.

The BBC Studios Showcase was presented by Zbigniew Pruski, Commercial Director, Branded Services, BBC Studios and Kasia Madera, Presenter at BBC News. During the presentation, NEM assistants had a sneak and peek to the new productions as "Prehistoric Planet", a BBC Studios Natural History Unit production for Apple TV+; "His Dark Materials”, a Bad Wolf co-production for BBC and HBO, “I May destroy you”, Various Artists Ltd and Falkna coproduction for BBC and HBO; “Time”, a BBC Studios drama production for BBC; “Black Ops”m a BBC Studios Comedy Production and Mondo Deluxe for BBC One; “Stath Lets Flats”, a Roughcut Television/Little productions for Channel 4; “Happy Valley”, a Lookout Point co-production or BBC and AMC. Between the new British drama content, BBC presenter showed trailer of second season of “Blue Lights”. Series one follows three new PSNI probationary recruits as they navigate their way through their first few months in a uniquely dangerous place to be a response police officer. Blue Lights is an authentic, gripping and darkly funny drama about ordinary people doing an extraordinary job. “SixFour”, new thriller set in Glasgow, from Kevin McKidd and Gregory Burke and “The Following Events are Based on a Pack of Lies”, produced by SISTER for the BBC, and unconventional new thriller distributed internationally by BBC Studios. BBC Studios also showed world-class formats such as “The Great Bake Off” adapted in 40 territories; and “Dancing with the stars”, very well-know around the world, and other hits formats as “Top Gear”; “Moneybags”; “Breaking Points”; “Sex Rated”Bridge of Lies”; “Ultimate Wedding Planner”; “Just the two of us.”. Madera also mentioned new BBC content like “Somewhere Boy”, a Channel 4 drama series filmed in South Wales; “Beyond Paradise,” a BBC crime drama television series, a spin-off of the long-running crime series “Death in Paradise” and stars Kris Marshall. it was confirmed that there will be a second series, plus a Christmas special. And “The Outlaws”, wich was confirmed for a third series. For BBC First, BBC Studios showed “Silent Witness”, “Sherwood” and “Life After Life” and the new of BBC Earth is “Mammals”; “Spy in the Ocean” and “Planet Earth III”.

The Walt Disney Company executives Anna Walczak-Elliot, director content sales CEE, CIS and Africa and Carla Davies, manager content sales CEE featured the new shows  the drama "Tracker" (13xihour) produced by 20th Television for CBS in the US; the crime drama thriller "Culprits" (8x1 hour) produced by Character 7 for Disney+ and Hulu; "Death and Other details" (10x1hour) produced by ABC Signature for Hulu and "Class of '09" (8x1hour) produced by FX Productions for Hulu. Disney also screened "Hip (High Intellectual Potential) series. 

AI and FAST are main trends nowadays, but part of the industry is still trying to figure out who include them to their business. For that reason, Guy Bisson from Ampere Analysis explained that FAST (Free Ad-supported Streaming Television) is a form of streaming TV funded entirely by advertising that delivers content in a linear, schedule fashion. "Think of it as the streaming equivalent of thematic channels on cable. It's distinct from AVOD platforms like Tubi and Pluto carry FAST channels", he said. “FAST Is interesting for content owners because offer a way to monetize it”, he added. Ampere Analysys report showed that FAST is a big market in the US (33,8%, of homes are watching AVOD/FAST) leading by Roku, Pluto TV, and Tubi, followed by Samsung TV, Xumo, LG Peacock, and Stirr. "For larger content owners, single IP fits well into a wider content windowing and licensing strategy", he said. Peacock has 12 channels, made up of valuable NBCUniversal titles such as 'Saturday Night Live', with compared to its overall 30 channels gives it the largest ratio of the single IP channels. Their FAST channels play remains supplementary to its SVOD platform, with only 30 channels are offered. Pluto TV holds the second-highest proportion of single IPs and like NBCUniversal, Paramount Global is leveraging popular titles such us 'CSI' and 'The Walkind Dead'. Paramount is the largest single channel owner, propagate by their ownership of Pluto TV. LG currently offers about half the amount of channels as fellow device operators Roku and Samsung TV. Out of the major studios, Sony operates the smallest number of FAST channels, due to having a smaller library of unscripted TV content to leverage in comparison. Less traditional channel owners such as Conde Nast and Tastemade also operate a number of channels. Stefan Niesen, Vice President Sales EMEA at Amagi Corporation and

Louise Pedersen, CEO of All3Media International joined Guy Bisson in a panel where they explained to the NEM assistants everything they’ve always wanted to know about FAST but were afraid to ask. Louise Pedersen mentioned that FAST are super niche channels, and the companies have to take into account if they have a base of fans that are going to watch that content before launching a FAST channel. "What is working are programs we know they have already an audience", she affirmed. "People are aware of the content to feel engage, they have to be super fans." The executive also noted that specific topics as murders are excellent to launch a FAST Channel. Stefan Niesen, expressed that there are three key elements to launch a FAST channel, the first is the video assets, "you have to have hundreds of hours of content", he said. The second element is the metadata in order to provide information to the service, and the third element is the schedule of the channel understanding the audience. "We are seeing a lot of sport channel coming up, like Paddle or Tennis but it also can depend on the brand."

On the other hand, Haymi Behar, CMO & CDO, SPI International exposed about the power of AI in content creation and viewing habits. “We usually use the IA en FilmBox+, a subscription base, multi platform content service that combines the lend- back and on-demand viewing experiences by provinding instant access to an extensive VOD catalogue and live channels on any internet-conected devise”. Behar mentioned Streamers will spend $26.5 billion on original content in 2023, up $33 billion or 14% from $23.2 billon last year, but 41% of viewers are signing up for a new streaming service just to watch a show (up from 35% in 2021). “The most common reason is they ran out things to watch. It is the era of doing more with less,he stated.


By Romina Rodriguez from Dubrovnik