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CONTENT LONDON ON DEMAND
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Newen Connect

Programming Profile

New directions for Newen Connect

13-11-2020

In this Content London On Demand campaign, Newen Connect’s Rodolphe Buet reveals his international expansion plan and how he intends to stay one step ahead of the game, while talking though his Content London playlist.

 

“If there is some positive impact of the Covid-19 situation, it’s on the activities of companies like ours,” says Rodolphe Buet, chief distribution officer at Newen Connect.

 

The TF1/Newen company launched just before the virtual version of Mipcom, bringing together the commercial activities of distribution entities Newen Distribution, TF1 Rights (aka Droits Audiovisuel) and in coordination with London-based Reel One International.

 

As broadcasters and digital platforms need to fill the gaps left by the lack of sporting and other live events, Buet says: “We’ve never seen such an appetite from broadcasters for our library and most companies similar to Newen Connect will enjoy great years in terms of revenue.”

 

Newen Connect is currently handling around 1,000 films and more than 5,500 hours of TV programmes. The multi-genre catalogue of drama, animation, documentary and unscripted programming covers “almost every kind of project a broadcaster or digital platform will be looking for, except for web series where we are just starting our activities,” says Buet.

 

Buet
Rodolphe Buet, Newen Connect

Despite the pandemic, he says: “Production is really alive. Telfrance, one of the group’s producer have just launched our new daily show Ici Tout Commence on TF1 – it’s our third daily show in France. With four daily shows on air, our producers had at early stage have to be organised and take all precautions care to make sure that every day, we deliver the programmes our broadcasters need to put on air.”

 

The group has a network of French and international production companies including Telfrance Group, 17 Juin, Capa, Blue Spirit, Tuvalu Media, Pupkin, Nimbus, De Mensen and Reel One.

 

“Since mid-May, more than 15 TV productions have been shooting, 45 TV movies have been produced and five theatrical movies are in production. We are dealing with a lot of challenges to make it happen and to maintain production, so it’s slightly more expensive and complex, but we are producing, and we will make sure we deliver those shows for 2021.”

 

Buet’s biggest concern is the impact the overall situation is having on movies – accelerating potentially the switch from a theatrical experience to a digital one. He says: “It’s very important that audiences go back to cinemas after this situation – it’s part of the European DNA and culture so we need all players of the value chain, local regulation authorities and the European Community to support the exhibitors and distributors.”

 

In terms of TV, one of the shows that’s a key focus for Newen Connect at Content London, and which is also a personal favourite of Buet’s, is eight-part miniseries L’Opéra. Produced at Telfrance for OCS, it focuses on the glamorous and merciless world of ballet dancers.

 

L’Opéra
L’Opéra

“We are also bringing the TF1 procedural HIP, starring Audrey Fleurot. We still have some territories to sell on DNA, which was recently broadcast on BBC4 and Arte with strong success. We have new seasons of Profiling [season 11] and Candice Renoir [season nine], which is probably the most successful French procedural in our catalogue.”

 

Other titles in its Content London showcase include Fear by the Lake (6×52’), a timely TF1 series about a virus pandemic; police procedural Munch (24×52’), also for TF1; and Column Film’s miniseries Legacy (8×45’). Buet describes the latter, currently in production for NPO in the Netherlands, as “a very strong show that deals with the impact of your roots and family on your personal development. I really connected with it.”

 

At Mipcom Online+ last month, Newen Connect experienced a strong appetite for crime TV shows, as well as for comedy from TV movie production company Reel One. Buet has also seen new appetite for sci-fi from digital platforms. “But all in all, people are looking for stories that are unique and create events,” he says. “We have had very good results on the unscripted side with format such as The Wonderbox and in animation. I’m specifically pleased with a programme from French production company La Chouette Compagnie for TF1.”

 

HIP
HIP

Viewers under lockdown have also been keen to rediscover older content and at the end of October, Newen launched YouTube channel Unforgettable (Inoubliable), offering TV shows from the 1960s, 70s and 80s.

 

Buet has identified five key priorities that he and his team should be thinking about when they wake up every morning. “The first is that we are 100% focused on making sure we will be able to bring additional financing TO support the efforts of our production companies.

 

“The second is looking at every kind of exploitation for the library. We need to be active in every single business model from airing on linear TV channels to digital platforms, AVoD or free VoD – making sure our programmes are able to be seen and are generating revenues and value.”

 

DNA
DNA

Buet’s third area of focus is marketing: “We used to live in a world, 20 years ago, where a show was first aired on a channel like the BBC or TF1 or on a network in the US. The broadcasters invested a significant amount of marketing money on the show and that was generating long-term value for the programme.

 

“In this current world, where there are so many programmes, one of the big threats is that you are producing shows, putting them on platforms and, the day after, they are disappearing. The challenge for us is making sure our programmes will be top of the list – that they are supported by the digital media and by the users themselves to maintain the interest of broadcasters or digital platforms.”

 

Newen Connect’s fourth priority, says Buet, is partnering with third parties to use our IP or concept to remake or reproduce similar shows within one of its production companies.

 

Candice Renoir
Candice Renoir

The final priority is anticipating what’s coming next. “The world has changed drastically in the last 10 years. We have Netflix, Amazon, Disney+ and Pluto TV. Now you can access your content wherever and whenever you want,” Buet says.

 

“The genres that were dominant 10 years ago are still there but because we are addressing more niche audiences, we need to make sure, as distributors, to bring the content that is more dedicated to those specific audiences – balancing that with the challenge of creation cost.

 

“But this world will change again and the question for me is what’s coming next? How will viewers access programming content two to three years from now? The main networks and some of the digital platforms that are leading the market will remain, but something new will come and a new way to access content will come. Our research department is focused on understanding the needs of these new players.”

 

Fear by the Lake
Fear by the Lake

Buet believes Newen Connect’s new structure is fundamental to driving growth. “We had in the past different distribution groups within TF1/Newen and those groups were totally independent, sharing very little information. On top of that, we were very strong locally, specifically in France through TF1 and Newen – but not really open to international, especially the US,” he says.

 

“Right now, around 46% of our catalogue is in French, 36% is English and 16% is Dutch, Scandinavian or Nordic productions. Our goal is to have more and more English-language shows.”

 

Under the new structure, Newen Connect’s team of 20 sales executives (most of whom are based in Paris or London) is organised according to expertise, with new departments created for film, fiction and non-fiction, and TV movies.

 

Legacy
Legacy

“We also decided to consolidate acquisition and coproduction so we now have a department led by [senior VP of acquisitions and coproductions] Karine Atlan in Paris and [senior VP of acquisitions and coproductions] Dominic Schreiber in London, who are very active looking for programmes and content that are complementary to the ones we are producing at Newen,” Buet says. “We’ve been acquiring recently shows from Italy and Germany – territories where we were not active.”

 

Buet’s long-term vision is to have dedicated people in all key territories to really develop an international presence. Through his 13 years of experience at French pay TV group Canal+, Buet spent three-and-a-half years as CEO of StudioCanal Germany. “I was lucky to have a German experience and I know how different markets are and how important it is to live in the country to experience what audiences are looking at and for. I’m convinced we need to be closer to the broadcasters,” he says.

 

“We have to strengthen our connection to international and be able to talk with the right people at HBO, Netflix, Amazon or Disney+ in Los Angeles if the production we are producing or the programmes we want to develop needs support from those partners. And we need to be prepared for the next steps and the next challenges.”