Unveiling a raft of international shows at Mipcom, Newen Connect‘s managing director Rodolphe Buet said the distribution arm of the TF1-owned company is seeing its business model go through “drastic changes” as it now plays a more central role in financing content.
In the next two years, Buet said roughly 70% of Newen Connect’s revenues will stem from content it pre-finances and/or co-produces, rather than licensing deals.
“We use to be gap deficit-ers, bringing minimum guarantees against rights for international. We’re now at the center of the equation, co-producing or co-financing to speed up the process of production,” said Buet, citing collaborations with in-house and third-party producers, alongside ongoing partnerships with TF1, Sweden’s TV4 and CMore, Germany’s ZDF and Amazon, among others.
Buet says partners have become “extremely conservative” in recent years and are on the lookout for existing IPs to limit risk. New players, such as AVOD services and FAST channels, are “even more conservative,” he said, “because the best way to generate ad revenues is to leverage brands and IPs.”
During the presentation at Mipcom, Newen Connect cited a pair of prestige series projects which it boarded at an earlier stage to help finance: “We Come in Peace,” a sci-fi drama created by “Humans” showrunner Lars Lundstrom and commissioned by TV4 and CMore; and “Cat’s Eyes,” a heist adventure-comedy series based on the cult 1980s anime about three sisters on the prowl to rob Paris’ most beautiful artworks.
Newen Connect has already enlisted ZDF as a co-producer on “We Come in Peace,” a dystopian thriller depicting aliens invading earth. “Cat’s Eyes,” meanwhile, is directed by Alexandre Laurent (“Women at War”) and has been ordered by TF1 and acquired by Amazon, which has second window rights in France and also picked it up for Japan and Latin America. Filming of “Cat’s Eyes” will start next week in Paris across several landmarks. Newen Connect is seeking further pre-sales at Mipcom for both shows.
Buet also said investing in English-speaking content was part of the group’s “next chapter.” “We want to be more active in English-speaking productions through gap deficit or co-financing,” he said.
As such, Newen Connect announced a couple ambitious English-language scripted shows at Mipcom, for instance “The Serial Killer’s Wife,” a gripping psychological thriller produced by Mike Benson at Newen Connect-owned Clapperboard Studios and BlackBox Multimedia. The series, penned by Suzanne Cowie (“The Dumping Ground”) and Ben Morris, is set in an affluent suburbia on the Kentish coast where a young woman is found dead.
Newen Connect is also looking to keep backing select high-concept shows from continental Europe, for instance the Spanish serial killer thriller “Memento Mori,” produced by Zebra Producciones, which is part of Newen-owned Izen Producciones. The series is based on the bestselling novel of the same name penned by Spanish crime writer César Pérez Gellida.
The banner also launched Newen Digital, a division dedicated to formats using new technology, a few months ago and successfully rolled out the new format “Safe Zone.” “Newen Digital is allowing us to test some new concepts and new ways of writing to expand our footprint and develop new projects,” said Buet. This new unit will take part in Mipcom’s first ever AI summit on Wednesday.
In addition to Buet, the Mipcom presentation was hosted by several producers, notably Benson as well as Jose Velasco and Sara Fernandez Velasco, who are Izen Group’s president and CEO, respectively.