Scandi dramas were hotter than ever at last week’s spring TV market in Cannes, grabbing awards and global buyers’ attention, despite an overall lacklustre MIPTV/Canneseries event.

The 2018 spring TV market was viewed by many delegates as a strikingly subdued event, and its first adjoining Canneseries festival as a work in progress. But both Cannes events brought media and business buzz to Nordic scripted content and their creators.

Three shows in various competition slots came home with a prize:

  • NRK’s State of Happiness, Best Script, Best Music at Canneseries, 
  • NRK Super’s Young Girls (Jente), Best Kids Digital programme at the International Emmy Kids Awards, 
  • Finnish show in development Bullets, scooped the buyers’ Coup de Coeur at the TVDrama Summit.

On the market, new business and creative trends emerged. 

New distributors fighting for Nordic rights
Three new major distribution groups - Wild Bunch, all3media, Global Road Entertainment - announced during MIPTV their first Nordic drama pick-ups, bringing the number of global sales reps of Nordic shows to more than 20.

Distributors moving into co-production and co-development
To secure the top Nordic shows and talents and to get a say on the creative side at development stage, indie distributors are increasingly upping their stakes and moving into co-production. At MIPTV, Laurent Boissel, co-managing director of About Premium Content told “For offensive and defensive reasons, we’re expanding our business model and moving from co-distribution to co-development and co-production. The offensive reason is that by entering a show at an earlier stage, we can add value to the project and collaborate both on the creative and financing levels alongside our production partners.”

Boissel cited his company’s recent partnership with Finland’s Mogul Movies on the thriller Isolated, and with Sweden’s Investigate North on the high concept series Unpunished, two projects currently in development.

Likewise Jean-Michel Ciszewski, Head of International at French competitor Federation Entertainment stressed that ‘co-producing is at the core’ of his company’s strategy. “We are very involved in the writing process and want to be a key partner to Nordic producers,” said the executive who was selling at MIPTV the Norwegian high concept show One Night, produced by Viafilm and Finnish political thriller Secret Enemies, produced by Moskito Television.

Tighter competition on the foreign-language market
German, Spanish, Italian, Belgium, Dutch, Swiss, Polish but also Israeli or Turkish shows in all genres are increasingly competing for distributors’ MGs, local tax coin and public funds.

And at Canneseries, among the most buzzed competition titles next to Norway’s State of Happiness were the Israeli winning drama When Heroes Fly, sold by Keshet Intl., Spanish romantic thriller Felix sold by ITV Global Studios, Germany’s The Typist and Italy’s mob drama The Hunter, both sold by Beta Film.

Foreign language for global audiences
While foreign language-savvy SVOD giants Netflix and Amazon are aggressively moving into local content, pubcasters around the world are selectively opening slots to non-English shows, such as New-Zealand’s TVNZ that inaugurated its foreign language slot with DR’s drama Ride Upon the Storm acquired from Studiocanal.

Meanwhile HBO’s first investment in an Italian language show - the Elena Ferrante’s book adaptation My Brilliant Friend, was pointed up by Caroline Terrance of Banijay Rights, as an ‘interesting move from a US major player, which could become a game-changer for foreign language drama in the US’.

Netflix keeps deals quiet
A handful of Nordic shows at MIPTV were picked up by Netflix for all territories or selective territories, confirming the key role of the US streaming giant in the co-financing of foreign language drama and in opening up global audiences' tastes in local content, although official announcements were not made due to contractual obligations.

Rights puzzle for global distributors
The explosion of platforms and blurring of windows are proving increasingly challenging for distributors. “On many of our shows, we have several co-producers, and interest from linear and digital platforms. Deal-making is definitely more complicated and time consuming today” noted Helene Aurø of DR Sales, who represented at MIPTV NRK’s State of Happiness, and DR’s Liberty among others.

Dramas for all tastes
Nordic crime is still hot according to international distributors and in Cannes, the final season of The Bridge was sold by ZDF Enterprises to Canal+. But all genres/sub-genres, such as the Swedish political thriller Conspiracy of Silence platformed at MIPTV Screenings by Eccho Rights, the more classical drama The Restaurant/Vår tid är nu (Banijay Rights), and high concept shows One Night, the short format comedy Stories from Norway (Nordic World) were hot properties across various platforms. 

For Studiocanal’s exec MD of TV series Françoise Guyonnet, opportunities for creators of high end Nordic and local scripted content abound. But “ultimately, top quality prevails, and to standout, you need a curated programme to help the audience navigate through the plethora of dramas on offer,” she said.