The buzzwords at this year's Mipcom television market (Oct8-12 in Cannes) were clearly heard in every conference, at every cocktail andaround every corner in the Palais: multi-platform, content and digital.
While with each Mip event in the past few years theseterms have gained in popularity, never before have they been so omnipresentwith actual deals to back them up.
Given that the news of Google paying $1.65bn for videosharing site YouTube broke on the first day of the market, discussions of howto bring content to the masses via a multitude of platforms and how to generate- and profit from - that content, were all the more timely.
Some industry experts fear the Google/YouTube deal as thedawn of a second Internet bubble, but Robert Halmi, president of leadingninternational TV producer and distributor RHI Entertainment, noted: "It'snot a second bubble, it's just an explosion. It's the wild, wild west out thereand we've been hearing about it for five years but now the gloves are off. Thepie won't double, this is just the chaos of a changing marketplace buteventually four or five dominant players will emerge."
Halmi added that although buyers' attention is focused onseveral new areas, they haven't forgotten about feeding the traditional TVchannels. 'Our first meetings with buyers are about straight buys and thesecond ones are now about VOD and broadband," he notes.
VOD deals emerged as a key sign of the changing times thisyear with pacts struck involving companies such as CBS, Paramount, Buena VistaInternational TV and BBC Worldwide. Yet, one French sales executive was not sosanguine when it comes to VOD. "The only ones profiting from VOD right now arethe Americans," he insisted.
In one of the more rousing conferences, MGM chairman HarrySloan told the audience that "the studio system is broken." He noted that whilestudios are still good at marketing movies and getting them out to the public,"what they don't do well is making movies. Studios are terrible atdevelopment." Explaining that he considers the best films are made outside thestudio system - developed and produced by independents and then marketed by themajors - Sloan said there should be a new studio model: no development, noproduction, just distribution and marketing.
Of course, since Sloan took over the reigns at MGM thishas been his own internal philosophy and he was in Cannes to promote thecompany's upcoming slate including Rocky Balboa ,The Thomas Crown Affair sequel, a new Terminator installment, The Hobbit (possibly directed by Peter Jackson) and the nextBond film.
Sloan said that with $1 trillion being pumped into newmedia on a global scale, "You have to have creativity to stand up touser-generated material. Premium brands will be the ones that are reallyvaluable."
Other keynote speakers included 2929 Entertainment's ToddWagner, who continued to expound his philosophy that day and date across allplatforms should be the way of the future; and NBC Universal president ofdigital media Beth Comstock, who contended that content is still king but thatthere's been a coup to the regime by the likes of YouTube and MySpace.
Mipcom attendance was up this year with a record 12,500registered participants, more and more of them coming from Asia. There was alsoan increase in the diversity of attendees with more digital and mobile phoneoperators strolling the Croisette.
On the traditional TV side, fiction was a hot seller thisyear with many echoing the common sentiment that some of thebest productis being made, not for the big, but for the small - and increasingly smaller -screen.