Afternoon International Insiders, Max Goldbart here. Another busy week but we’ve got you covered with all the international headlines and analysis you need. To get this sent to your inbox every Friday, sign up here.
Rating The Streamers
BARBed move: It feels like industry bigwigs have been debating streamer ratings since the dawn of time but, this week, UK ratings body BARB moved a step closer to shutting down that debate. Netflix Co-CEO Reed Hastings told the RTS Cambridge in 2019 he “wanted Netflix on BARB”, the standardised ratings measurement that has buy-in from all UK linear channels and, while there has been little co-operation since, BARB has sidestepped the SVoDs and started publishing streamer ratings anyway.
“Once in a generation”: The “once in a generation” upgrade can now reveal how many people are watching Netflix shows in line with other broadcasters, using a program measurement system developed by Kantar. The initial results were revealing, with an episode of Squid Game unsurprisingly leading the SVoD pack but only 10th in the most-watched UK shows in October, behind quirky stalwarts such as BBC1’s Countryfile (hat tip to my predecessor Jake Kanter on this one). Other streamer shows to perform well included You and Disney+ film Black Widow, but few made the top 100.
What does Netflix think?: In short, we’re not sure. A spokeswoman for the streamer declined to comment on the accuracy of BARB’s metrics but pointed Deadline to its brand-spanking new weekly top 10 lists, which show the most-viewed films and TV shows in each territory. These lists have been widely criticized, however, for only recognizing shows performing well and being difficult to quantify or validate. If BARB’s measurement catches on, producers and viewers alike will begin questioning the likes of Netflix, Amazon and Disney+’s commissioning decisions, and the veil of secrecy that has existed for so long may be lifted.
We’ve been here before: Over In déjà vu land, Covid-19 is once again causing headaches for physical event organizers across Europe, with the spectre of markets “going virtual” looming large once again. The Omicron situation is particularly bad in Germany, with Tom and Andreas reporting Wednesday that the European Film Awards in Berlin has cancelled plans for next week’s physical ceremony, replaced by a hybrid of digital formats. Question marks are naturally appearing over the status of February’s Berlin Film Festival, which is set to take place two years after the Coronavirus swept through Europe. In a sign of things to come, Germany has this week barred unvaccinated people from various culture and leisure venues, having reported its highest case figures to date.
Amazon’s Prime Hire
Big Day for Kelly: Elsewhere in the streaming world, colossal people news as ViacomCBS international streaming boss Kelly Day signed for Amazon Prime. Day takes the newly-created role of VP, Prime Video International, as Amazon aims to finesse its local content strategy and ramp up original programming outside of the U.S. in line with the other big streamers. Day had been leading on ViacomCBS’ streamer Paramount+ and she also oversaw the expansion of AVoD Pluto TV. Her approach to mobilizing Prime internationally will be fascinating to watch.
Banijay And Sony Buys
Sony takes a Bad Wolf: One of the UK TV industry’s worst kept secrets was confirmed Wednesday with the official acquisition of His Dark Materials producer Bad Wolf by Sony Pictures Television. The deal, which sources say could be worth around $80M, extends Sony’s UK production footprint by some degree, after it purchased Sex Education producer Eleven last year. Sony now has access to some of the biggest dramas of the past few years, including The Night Of, Discovery of Witches and I Hate Suzie, while also taking on co-production of BBC1 favourite Doctor Who alongside BBC Studios, with Bad Wolf CEO Jane Tranter set to shortly link back up with old collaborator Russell T Davies.
Banijay cooks up tasty Znak: Meanwhile in super-indie land, Banijay UK signalled a desire to be an “entertainment powerhouse” with the acquisition of Natalka Znak’s Znak TV. Znak is an entertainment supremo, having created mega-hits Hell’s Kitchen, Love Island and I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! during her time with ITV Studios. Notably, she is also taking the reins of Banijay stablemates Remarkable Entertainment and Initial, the latter of which is in need of a bit of a creative injection following the cancellation of Big Brother.
Recommendation quartet: His Dark Materials writer Jack Thorne’s disability lobbying group Underlying Health Condition has compiled a string of recommendations to help improve the UK’s ailing studios and facilities and boost appallingly low levels of representation. In an event to mark International Day of Disabled Persons, the group urged the creation of a Studio and Facilities Fund to aid industry-wide accessibility, a separate fund to help disabled freelancers, a line in every budget for accessibility and the creation of an Accessibility Co-ordinator post on high-end shows. Clearly, the hard work on disability begins now.
MacTaggart mark two: Speaking to me prior to the report’s publication, this year’s MacTaggart lecturer Thorne set the bar high by stating the British TV and film industry could be a “world leader” on disability if “radical thinking” is implemented. Thorne’s August MacTaggart generated global headlines when he slammed the TV industry for “utterly and totally failing” disabled people. The address was immensely powerful and is worth a watch in full. Next up, an Underlying Health Condition-organised roundtable with industry bigwigs as the prolific scribe and campaigners look to put their recommendations into practice.
A Discovery In Poland
From school to streaming success: Nice little story here as I sat down with Natasza Parzymies, the 22-year-old creator of Polish LGBTQ+ web series Control. Natasza’s “two minute school assignment” is soon to hit global screens via Discovery+, having achieved YouTube fame in a country ranked top of Rainbow Europe’s human rights abuse list. “I always say that love has nothing to do with politics and that is what we are trying to show here,” Natasza told me.
🌶️ Hot one of the week: Succession star Sarah Snook has taken over from Elisabeth Moss in Australian thriller Run Rabbit Run.
🌶️ Another one: Anonymous Content and Federation Entertainment have launched a French TV and film production label.
🌶️ Another one: Snapchat-owner Snap has kickstarted a UK commissioning drive, holding briefings with UK producers last month.
🌶️ Not another one???: Gerard Butler pic Kandahar started filming in Saudi Arabia, almost in time for next week’s Red Sea Film Festival.
🚚 On the move: Toronto Film Festival vet Cameron Bailey has been promoted to CEO.
🚚 On the move: BBC Studios Natural History Unit development boss Gavin Boyland is moving to series-produce a major landmark brand for the division, with the NHU seeking a replacement.
🏆 Awards latest: Jack Thorne’s Help and Bo Burnham’s Inside were the big Rose d’Or winners on a strong night for Brits.
🍿 Box office: Pierre Morel-directed action movie Al Kameen has become the highest-grossing Emirati and Arabic-language film ever in the UAE. Andreas had the scoop.
🎦 Trailer: Peacock’s submarine thriller Vigil will land in the U.S. later this month after a successful run on BBC1.
💉 Cash injection: Canal Plus has committed to $680M investment in French and European film.