All3 prescribes pandemic-proof formats

As the distribution arm of Liberty Global- and Discovery-owned super-indie All3Media, a substantial proportion of All3Media International (All3MI)’s 15,000-hour programming library comes from its production stablemates.

The 30 or so mainly UK-based indies feeding its cross-genre catalogue include globally recognised outfits such as Studio Lambert, Neal Street Productions, New Pictures and Optomen.

It does, however, also have partnerships in place with third-party producers not associated with its UK-headquartered parent, bolstering its pipeline.

With strong infrastructure behind it, All3MI is attempting to take a “business as usual” approach to sales in the coronavirus era, while taking advantage of viewer thirst for specific genres and buyers’ scheduling gaps, according to EMEA executive vice-president Stephen Driscoll.

After a brief period of panic buying, Driscoll says most acquisition execs are returning to licensing for the medium-term, picking up content that will either play later this year or in early 2021.

Some shows have seen a real spike, such as Studio Lambert’s hit format Gogglebox, which was recently sold as a celebrity format to US network Fox, and Celebrity Call Centre.

“We’ve had a resurgence in Gogglebox buyers, who can see the benefit of the format in these current times,” says Driscoll. “If there’s a second or third wave of coronavirus then this is a show you can continue to produce with ease.”

He adds All3MI is “being grilled extensively by clients that want quick turnaround shows" with low financial risk attached.

Meanwhile, the outfit’s stable of long-running drama series have attracted renewed interest, as broadcasters across the globe seek to fill schedule gaps caused by the production pause.

Evergreen procedurals such as ITV’s Midsomer Murders, from Bentley Productions, and New Zealand detective drama The Brokenwood Mysteries, from South Pacific Pictures, have been keenly tracked, as has new programming that completed just prior to lockdown.

Recently wrapped scripted series such as New Pictures’ double The Deceived and Des, along with The Forge’s upcoming political drama Roadkill for BBC1, which can air as close to original TX as possible, have been in high demand.

The benefit of new scripted acquisitions is clear. ITV recently acquired Company Pictures’ reboot of Amsterdam-set detective drama Van Der Valk and the show consolidated to almost seven million viewers, matching that of an original production.

“The question now for ITV is how quickly the second series can get into production due to travel issues,” says Driscoll.

He also considers how the nature of the distributor’s deal-making has changed, as buyers seek lengthier catch-up windows to account for ever-shifting viewing habits. From the acquisition perspective, greater resource has been freed up for better rights, but this could complicate negotiations on the part of the distributor trying to sort windows.

“Some buyers didn’t have the budget for this before but now these budgets are being reconsidered,” he says.


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