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Fremantle eyes digital future

Mipcom: Fremantle Media chief executive Cecile Frot-Coutaz has hailed the “really meaningful business” the company is doing in the digital space after it signed a deal to distribute content created by multiplatform studio Vuguru.

Fremantle Media Enterprises has a first look deal for all of Vuguru’s content outside of North America from 2013, and chief executive David Ellender said it was a continuation of the strategy that has seen it work with Netflix, Lovefilm and distribute original content commissioned by Hulu.

He said: “This deal augments FME’s burgeoning digital strategy. New media studios such as Vuguru are home to some of the best content and ideas anywhere in the industry.”

Vuguru creates scripted content and works with the likes of Hulu, AOL and Yahoo.

Frot-Coutaz added that Fremantle is YouTube’s biggest content partner with 90 channels and that it is developing opportunities away from traditional broadcasters all the time. She said the knock-on effect of the emerging digital players would be greater polarisation of the TV market.

“There are blockbuster events like talent shows, sport and drama or very niche content. It’s the stuff in the middle that is going away. It’s getting like the film industry – with blockbusters and the indie stuff.

“It means fragmentation and the big guys, the four US networks, are having a really hard time launching new shows, with fewer things cutting through.”

Fremantle has already struck a deal to create US YouTube Originals channels The Pet Collective and THNKR and has just agreed to create two more German channels, crime channel Trigger and urban lifestyle channel Heartbeat Berlin.

Separately, Rob Clark said Fremantle Media’s format business was focussing on ideas with arresting visual impact or that had integral marketing campaigns or social media activity that could start before the show launches.

He cited gameshow-set-in-a-computer-game format Bang Bang as an example of the former and BBC3’s Unzipped as the latter, with its pre-show census of respondents’ sex lives and relationships.

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