Boom! news · 14 December, 2018

2018 – a review

Boom! PR’s Account Director Andrew Dickens looks back at the client stories and industry trends to hit last year’s headlines

Politically, 2018 may have been a turbulent and uncertain year (an understatement perhaps), but Boom! PR’s clients have demonstrated consistent and unparalleled success over the last 12 months – with an abundance of announcements topping the television industry news agenda.

As a rather cold January got 2018 under way, and cities across the UK began polishing up their bids to become the new HQ of Channel 4, we flew into the warmer climate of Miami’s NATPE market with news that our client UK indie Zig Zag Productions would be represented by ICM Partners in the US. Such news highlighted Zig Zag’s expansion plans for the US market as it looked to build on the 200 hours of US-produced programming already under its belt. In the same month, boss Danny Fenton wrote in Broadcast magazine that NATPE “offers fantastic opportunities for UK producers” before highlighting that the ‘FAANGs’ were all in Florida in full force.

And these streamers’ more diverse commissioning strategies was arguably one of the biggest TV industry trends of 2018. Indeed, February saw us announce that another longstanding client Barcroft Media win their first commission from US SVoD giant Netflix for ’Amazing Interiors’, a deal that further contributed to CEO Sam Barcroft’s vision to “turn the TV model upside down”. Throughout the year, Barcroft would go on to strike deals for content with the likes of the Snapchat Discovery platform and Facebook Watch – a trend that’s sure to continue in 2019 as they continue to disrupt the traditional TV industry model.

February also saw leading UK production company Raw commissioned by ITV to produce a fourth series of hit documentary series ‘Heathrow: Britain’s Busiest Airport’, We also announced our clients Bristol-based Icon Films had landed a Travel Channel commission for adventure series ‘Hunting Evidence’, and Buccaneer Media’s acclaimed crime drama ‘Marcella’ returned to ITV for a second run.

The run-up to MipTV in April proved to be exceptionally busy months for our clients. Toronto-based distribution company Syndicado acquired the US digital distribution rights to ‘lost’ Leonard Cohen documentary ‘Bird on Wire’ and ‘The World of Peter Sellers’. Meanwhile, another Canadian client, Montreal-based producer-distributor Media Ranch was commissioned by Canada’s Bell Media to produce ‘The Goldwater Rule’ (later renamed ‘The Ex-pert’) starring high profile lawyer Anne-France Goldwater, and France-based independent TV company Pernel Media was commissioned by France 5 to produce a second series of docu-drama ‘The Real War of Thrones; A History of Europe’.

All this came as international broadcasters geared up for two huge global events: Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding in May and the FIFA World Cup in June. Boom! PR clients were, of course, at the forefront of both the Royal Wedding and soccer documentary rush. We generated headlines for Lilla Hurst and Ben Barrett’s distribution firm Drive as they brought Oxford Films’ ITV documentary ‘Invitation to a Royal Wedding’ to buyers in the Palais, while Zig Zag teamed up with Infinity Media and Dick Clark Productions in the US for ‘The Football Show’ – a new series that looks behind the scenes into the world famous footballer’s lives away from the pitch. Boom! PR had the pleasure of collaborating with Argentinian football legend Hernan Crespo (pictured) to launch the show to global media on the red carpet in Cannes.

The global TV industry’s summer months were dominated by news about US media giant Comcast’s bid to take over European satcaster Sky. Comcast eventually outfought 21st Century Fox with a £30bn bid in September, a move that saw James Murdoch resign from Sky’s board and Comcast Chief Executive Brian Roberts declaring the deal paved the way for the “accelerated investment and growth” of Sky’s brand. During that period, our client stories included World Media Rights inking deals for the third instalment of ‘Air Crash Confidential’ with Quest in the UK and Nine Network in Australia and Buccaneer Media scooping rights to adapt Elizabeth Macneal’s hotly anticipated novel The Doll Factory for TV.

Amid the August heatwave, Icon Films made its own waves when ITV acquired their 6 x 60’ documentary series ‘Jeremy Wade’s Mighty Rivers’, a show that sees the fisherman and biologist examine some of the planet’s largest waterways. Icon’s Head of Factual Stephen McQuillan said in multiple media outlets: “Jeremy’s take on river health is both salutary and at times uplifting”. Indeed, the series – originally commissioned by Animal Planet for the US – was certainly an example of a number of ‘socially good’ TV shows to hit small screens in 2018, a trend Beauty World Search president and exec producer Caroline Bernier said could “make real changes in the world we live in” in her C21 perspective piece later in the year.

Also featuring in C21 in September, IPCN Chairwoman and Founder Rebecca Yang wrote that short-form content was now an “unstoppable force” in China. That same month, the company that brought ‘The Voice’ to China backed this up with the launch of short-form digital network Channel R. Among its first offerings were music documentary series ‘Street Credit in London’ and ‘Street Credit in Chongqing’ while IPCN also collaborated with fellow Boom! client Zig Zag for a coproduction of ‘The Writing’s on the Wall’. September also saw the aforementioned Beauty World Search – the production company behind TV series and disruptive social media movement ‘The Fashion Hero’ – announce a raft of international sales for the innovative series to the likes of Televisa in Latin America and Lifetime in Turkey.

MIPCOM is an event that Drive’s Ben Barrett has described as a “whirlwind three or four days of back-to-back meetings”, and for Boom! this was an apt description of how events unfolded. We announced a deluge of stories in the run up to Cannes’ premium TV gathering including Australia’s Essential Media Group’s appointment of Brendan Dahill as its new general manager and exec producer, US driving footage firm Driving Plates launching a UK office and we revealed London-based Spring Films is to produce ‘Fireball’ – a new feature doc with renowned filmmaker Werner Herzog. Pernel Media’s Samuel Kissous also grabbed national headlines when The Times ran a piece on how two different edited versions of ‘Britain’s War of Thrones’ could present audiences with completely with different viewpoints on either side of the Channel. Our other announcements in Cannes included Media Ranch’s partnership with Quebecor Content to launch a French-Canadian format incubator aimed at creating exportable TV formats and Beauty World Search and Electus striking a co-development deal for season two of ‘The Fashion Hero’ (pictured). It was also great to see Barcroft Media pick up the YouTube Award in the Content Innovation Awards at a ceremony at the Carlton Hotel (pictured l-r Sam Barcroft, Alex Morris and Boom!’s Justin Crosby)

With MIPCOM gone in a flash of an eye, it soon became a case of “Leeds! Leeds! Leeds!” in the UK as the West Yorkshire city was named the new regional base for Channel 4. Bristol and Glasgow were chosen to house two smaller creative hubs, a move that prompted Icon Films’ MD Laura Marshall to declare that a “whole new generation of content creators who will benefit from the Channel 4 presence” in Bristol. No doubt Channel 4’s bold move will shift the landscape for the UK’s independent production and distribution sector over the coming months, with a number of companies already announcing plans for new offices closer to the broadcaster’s new office.

This was just one of the talking points at December’s C21 Content London 2018, an event that saw thousands of delegates flock to the UK capital to “talk telly”. Naturally, several Boom! PR clients were in attendance, including Zig Zag’s Danny Fenton and Drive’s Ben Barrett, who both sat on the Barrett-moderated Unscripted Forum’s “Exploring The New Finance Frontier” panel (pictured). Here Danny estimated that in the last year over one hundred new production companies had launched in the UK and indies needed to look at new funding opportunities in order to have any chance of reaching the top of the production mountain.

It’s maybe a sign of things to come for 2019, which will no doubt be a year of full of new and exciting co-development, distribution, M&A and SVOD deals in more emerging markets.

You wouldn’t want to be in any other business right now.