State of the Entertainment Industry Conference Addresses TV Growth in Foreign Markets

Will Thorne
Variety

The burgeoning television markets in China and India were two of the main topics of discussion at this year’s State of the Entertainment Industry Conference, presented by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, on Wednesday at the Loews Hollywood Hotel.

The 2016 edition, which was co-sponsored by Variety, featured a panel on the global entertainment industry with five executives from leading entertainment companies, who discussed how the industry’s recent growth in globalization has forced Hollywood to rethink its current strategy.

“Right now, the game that Hollywood has played, which is creating content in America and shipping that content and licensing it in different places, that game has stopped a little bit,” said Jason Goldberg, chief creative officer of digital, new media and alternative content divisions at STX Entertainment. “It’s really about creating organic, real content on the ground in these regions, so I think that’s what we’re in the middle of right now.”

The panelists went on to highlight the difference between American and international markets, and the barriers that domestic entertainment companies have to overcome when producing or marketing their content abroad.

Michael Grindon, president of worldwide distribution at Legendary TV, commented that the demand in foreign markets is often for shows that may not be popular stateside.

“Right now, for international broadcasters there’s more of an interest, at least on the scripted front, for more procedural content [such as] things that have worked well for a long time like ‘CSI’ or ‘NCIS,’ and yet they’re not quite as popular here in the United States. Here we see more productions of serialized content coming off on the digital platforms and cable platforms,” Grindon said.

Also present at the panel was Michael Kagan, ICM’s head of international TV, who offered a different perspective as someone who brings more foreign shows into the country. Kagan shared the differing content standards between the U.S. and abroad by pointing out that censorship is an issue not just limited to foreign television.

“We see some crazy stuff from our international clients. We got a very big producer who produces a show for Channel 4 in the U.K., a 10 o’clock primetime show where they show full-frontal nudity and he’s like, ‘This show’s great, we should take it to the states,'” Kagan recalled. “I said, ‘I’m sorry, I don’t think this is gonna work. Maybe [on] the Playboy channel, but that’s the best we’re gonna do.”

The panel was moderated by Debra Birnbaum, Variety executive editor, television, and included ITV Entertainment president David Eilenberg, as well as Dana Goldberg, CCO of Skydance Media, who spoke more in depth about the film industry’s effect on entertainment worldwide.

“How do you break through the noise? Because on the feature side alone there’s almost a giant film being released every weekend, and then between Netflix and every other network there’s humongous TV shows being released every weekend and people have so many options,” Goldberg stated. “Just getting something out there that’s big and loud isn’t good enough anymore. The real story for us is – especially with these giant movies – [that] you really have to be great in order to get the global audience.”

Earlier in the day, Variety‘s Andrew Barker sat down with BMG’s president of U.S. repertoire and marketing, Zach Katz, as part of a music industry spotlight which focused on how the company has had to adapt to “multi-dimensional” creative talent. The conference also held a special conversation between Variety co-editor-in-chief Andrew Wallenstein and Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos, which was followed by an awards presentation that was bestowed on him by actress Drew Barrymore.

(Pictured: Jason Goldberg, president, TV, STX Entertainment, and Michael Grindon, president of worldwide distribution for Legendary TV, on the “Hollywood Without Borders: The Global Entertainment Industry” panel at the State of the Entertainment Industry Conference.)

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