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KO Distribution

Programming Profile

KOTV looks to punch above its weight


Mia Desroches of Montreal-based KOTV outlines her plans for new division KO Distribution and how the international market for Québécois content is changing.


Montreal’s KOTV made a significant statement of intent in May as it officially launched its distribution arm, KO Distribution, and appointed former CBC/Radio-Canada exec Mia Desroches to lead it.


In the newly created role of VP of international distribution, Desroches is responsible both for pre-selling KOTV’s slate of shows and selling finished tape.


The former is a key area of focus for the producer-distributor as it looks to grow its international business and lock in additional financing for its projects, which span scripted, sketch comedy, unscripted and children’s content.


Mia Desroches, KOTV

Notable series emanating from KOTV include the French-language anthology drama series Plan B, which has become a hot commodity in the international market in recent years.


Originally produced in French by KOTV for Séries+ and ICI Radio-Canada, the second season was adapted in France by TF1 and Belgium by Streamz. It follows a controlling husband who goes back in time to try to change the course of events and the outcome of his failing marriage.


Canadian public broadcaster CBC also commissioned an English-language remake of the first season, led by Patrick J Adams (Suits) and Karine Vanasse (Cardinal). The entire IP, English and French, was subsequently picked up by Germany’s Red Arrow Studios International for global distribution, and Desroches says there is a “very active” option deal in Germany.




Another of its projects, the sketch comedy series Entre deux draps (Pillow Talk), has proved to be popular with private broadcast group Bell Media.


After commissioning the French-language original series, the broadcaster also greenlit an English-language version. KOTV, and its longtime collaborator Aroma TV, are now shopping the French-language format and the English remake in international markets.


“Plan B and Pillow Talk are our first two pure English-language productions. We want to do more of them,” says Desroches, adding that KOTV has two docuseries and a “massive” scripted series that it will be pitching directly to English broadcasters.


As the company prepares for Content London, KOTV is gearing up to put a big push behind its new singing competition format, Zenith. Produced by KOTV for Radio-Canada, the show aims to find a professional singer who can captivate an audience made up of 100 VIP voters representing four generations: Boomers, Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z.



Perfect Storm
Perfect Storm

“I’m really hopeful that with this multigenerational concept in mind, we’ll be able to export the format,” says Desroches.


With the pandemic proving to be less disruptive this year than the previous two, she believes the market is ready and waiting for the next hit shiny-floor series. “Frankly, because of Covid, the big shiny-floor shows have been put to one side because they are complicated or impossible to produce. So the timing is really good for us to go back to the international market with a big, ambitious shiny-floor show,” she says.


Quizshow Judgement Call, which involves four celebrities, two contestants and a lot of surprising and hilarious questions, is also being shopped as a format. Eleven territories have optioned the format rights, according to Desroches. France’s Wild Bunch TV also recently picked up international distribution rights to the hour-long KOTV drama How to Survive in the Wild.


In addition to exporting its formats, KOTV also produces local adaptations of international formats, including remakes of the German sketch comedy show LadyKracher (adapted as Les Magnifiques in the Quebec market), Belgian comedy Benidorm Bastards (Les Détestables) and UK gameshow Taskmaster (Le Maître du Jeu).



Pillow Talk
Pillow Talk

Over the last 12 months, many of the global streaming services, including Amazon Prime Video, Netflix, Disney+ and Paramount+, have started to establish local offices in Canada. Desroches says KOTV is optimistic that their presence will mean new commissioning opportunities for Quebec-based production companies.


“Obviously, we’re going to continue to work with existing broadcast partners, but we’re also going to pay attention to what’s happening with the streamers, and look at ways to work with them to do shows that can be great domestically and internationally,” she says.


Across the province of Quebec, many companies are enjoying greater levels of international success than in the past. Québécois projects and formats are having something of a moment – but Desroches is acutely aware that maintaining this momentum is a challenge.


“I feel that right now is our time. Then it’s going to be up to us to sustain that,” she says.


“With the economy the way it is, things are so expensive now and there is a challenge around the financing. That’s definitely a place where I want to be super present for KOTV – pre-selling so we can put the money into the financial structure and boost the budget is going to be our way to sustain our visibility and our success internationally.”

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  • 12-06-2020

    Quebec production house KOTV is looking to the global marketplace with a slate of seven shows that have already begun their international roll-outs and are showcased in its C21 Digital Screenings this week.


    Montreal-based prodco KOTV is, according to president Louis Morissette, “either the biggest of the small companies or the smallest of the big companies” in Quebec’s burgeoning production sector. It’s an enviable position that gives it the best of both worlds, he adds.


    The nine-year-old company is the result of producer, writer, actor and comedian Morissette’s “desire to have more control over the whole project from the writing to the editing,” he says, so he founded the company with Louis-Philippe Drolet and Alain Chicoine in 2011.