World Screen: Autentic’s Mirjam Strasser Talks Factual Trends
Since its creation in 2008, Germany’s Autentic has carved out a reputation as a key supplier of factual content for the local and global markets. Operating across production, development, co-financing and distribution, Autentic also runs its own channels and VOD services. That breadth gives the company a key advantage in the fast-evolving doc-distribution business, Mirjam Strasser, the company’s head of sales and acquisitions, tells TV Real.TV REAL: What has been your company’s approach to securing content to sell worldwide? How early do you partner with producers?
STRASSER: Throughout the years, we have built a broad-ranged and high-quality producers’ network. We are constantly in contact with our producers about their upcoming projects. We are not only distributors but also sparring partners—we not only include finished projects in our catalog but also help realize projects in the early stages through co-financing, presales or other forms of financing. In addition, we have our own production department that delivers high-quality productions every year. This combination puts us in a very good position in the market, where a battle for the best content is in full swing, which is certainly also fueled by the emerging streaming services.TV REAL: What assistance do you offer in terms of early financing and securing co-productions?
STRASSER: Basically, we cover the whole production development journey. This is possible because Autentic runs a world sales division and has its own production department. We help producers finance their projects through partner search and co-financing or co-producing, even in early development stages. I’m proud to say that we can provide a full-service offer from story development to production to global rights trading and create a long-lasting life cycle for premium factual content. And we always know which genres and topics are currently in demand and being asked for and can filter this market and trend knowledge back to our producers.TV REAL: The global streamers are heavily investing in factual. How has that changed your overall business over the last year?
STRASSER: With the rise of global streamers, rights exploitation has become somewhat complicated. They often want worldwide rights to exploit the productions in their global network. Here, it is important to work out the right deal structures to enable exploitation for other platforms and TV channels as well. Either way, we simply have to pay attention to which rights are sold to whom. But strictly speaking, it has always been like that. In addition, productions can find a new home with streamers that may have already completed their life cycle on TV. We see the different offers more as a complementary cycle than as competing rights exploitation options.TV REAL: What factors do you consider when deciding to go with a streamer for a global deal or taking a country-by-country approach?
STRASSER: It depends on the program itself. Some genres and program colors fit much better with streamers—then the decision is clear. For other titles, we immediately know we can sell them to territories x, y and z and more, so the tendency goes more to country-by-country deals.TV REAL: Is your digital business mainly with SVOD, or are you also seeing some AVOD revenues?
STRASSER: We evaluate all possibilities in the digital business. We have combination deals with broadcasters and their streaming services, or we license to a solely SVOD service. We also distribute our programs to non-traditional platforms such as YouTube channels. In Germany, we entered a content partnership with Little Dot Studios Germany, where we exploit content from our distribution catalog on their YouTube channel. We also have similar partnerships with international companies.TV REAL: There are new content quotas on streamers in Europe—how do you see that changing your business in the year ahead?
STRASSER: For us, the business is probably changing for the better. We have mainly European productions in our catalog—or at least one European partner is on board, be it as a co-producer or as the main producer. From this point of view, the new quotas on streamers in Europe are good for us because the demand for European content will increase, and we are the right partners here.TV REAL: What are some of the major trends in factual today? What are your clients asking for?
STRASSER: At the moment, history programs are in strong demand, especially ancient and contemporary history. An evergreen is nature and wildlife. However, there is a noticeable shift toward conservation programs and the relationship between humankind and nature. In factual entertainment, we notice a strong demand for men-driven series. They are selling like hotcakes.
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