True crime drives Fremantle’s drama play

With entertainment format franchises such as X Factor and Got Talent and several high-end global dramas under its belt, Fremantle sells its 20,000-hour content catalogue from a position of strength in these testing times.

Fremantle’s international chief executive Jens Richter says that while the company’s distribution arm is sating some territories’ desire for “warm-hearted and nostalgic” content from its back catalogue (some dating as far back to the 1970s and 1980s), its focus is on new dramas, as local productions began to pause.

“Big dramas are getting a large portion of attention right now,” he says. “If there’s a show that hits a specific spot, you could be more successful now than you would have been two years ago.”

The potential drying of the distribution pipeline due to Covid-19 has been partly averted as much of the production on Fremantle’s bigger dramas had been completed by the beginning of the year and most had been presented at the London Screenings in February.

Richter says Fremantle’s sales strategy under lockdown has been “bespoke” in lieu of large events. “We have ten regional sales offices around the world, so we are close to the market,” he adds.

Screenings of programmes are held on a one-on-one basis with broadcasters, along with virtual lunches and drinks.

“We do these things in a more intimate way so we can get that immediate feedback and so we can figure out how to support broadcasters with issues such as marketing and deal with those individual questions,” says Richter.

On the entertainment front, the formats Fremantle is prioritising are those that are “Covid-proof” and those that will return to production simply as restrictions are eased, such as those without audiences.

“We are always looking carefully and tracking situations in different territories around the world,” says Richter.


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