Banijay banks on big brands
Since its emergence in 2017 following Banijay Group’s merger with Zodiak Media, Banijay Rights has established itself as one of global industry’s pre-eminent distributors. Its 20,000-hour catalogue is set to be bolstered three-fold following this summer’s expected takeover of Endemol Shine Group by its parent.
When that deal closes, Banijay Rights will boast a library of an estimated 85,000 hours, bringing together some of the world’s biggest titles, such as Survivor, Big Brother, MasterChef, and Temptation Island.
Cathy Payne, former chief executive of Endemol Shine International, has taken the same role at Banijay Rights, with her predecessor Tim Mutimer, segueing into the position of executive vice-president of sales and acquisitions for EMEA.
Mutimer, who is working closely with Payne as she acclimatises to the new company, says the takeover is “on-track to close in the summer”.
With large, existential changes afoot, the untimely arrival of a global production lockdown could have caused a few headaches for Banijay Rights, with projects halted in all the major territories in which the company has production interests.
However, the company was given a boost by the fact that several new dramas, due to deliver over the summer or which were in post-production, were added to the catalogue. “We’ve launched more scripted series than ever before since lockdown happened,” Mutimer says.
For the Banijay Rights team, the focus has been on facilitating the increasing demands of buyers shorn of their own original programming and looking for replacement acquisitions.
Mutimer acknowledges the benefit of having a “rich catalogue” of high-profile titles, including relationship format Temptation Island and adventure reality Survivor.
Meanwhile, Banijay Rights has been packaging content to create themed collections for buyers, with travel shows and finished tape of major formats, attracting attention.
While Banijay has looked at adapting archive content for new shows during lockdown, Mutimer is wary of maintaining quality. “People don’t want to compromise,” he adds. “We’ve got to think about the quality post-Covid.”
As such, Mutimer and his colleagues are working closely with Banijay’s production companies and formats licensees as production lockdown restrictions ease around the world. For a show like Don’t Forget The Lyrics, which airs in France as N’oubliez pas les Paroles!, an ever-present live band has been placed on a mezzanine, while live audiences socially distance with the addition of mannequins and balloon people.
“Sharing that information with licensees is something that works well,” says Mutimer.
On fears of another unforeseen event affecting the willingness of distributors to invest in future projects with deficit financing, Mutimer is bullish, saying Banijay Rights is taking a “long-term view”.
“We’re a very well-funded group,” he says. “We’ve got lots of big production companies working with major broadcasters around the world. When we see an opportunity, we will want to continue to back it. We foresee strong demand in the future.”