Changes Will Bring New Opportunities. For Now They Bring Uncertainty.

 
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At May's L.A. Screening, buyers kept one eye on the content on offer from the U.S. studios, and the other on developments behind the scenes at the studios that could affect future editions of the L.A. Screenings.

Indeed, there were two recurrent questions on buyers' lips. First, in light of a new emphasis on OTT services, will studios continue selling their content internationally? And second, will the 56-year-old L.A. Screenings even continue to exist in this new environment?

One major Italian TV buyer who wished to remain anonymous told VideoAge that L.A. Screenings 2019 "could represent the end of an era," and commented: "We're witnessing a reduced participation of the U.S. majors at international TV markets. If even the L.A. Screenings assumes a lesser role, how will business be conducted without that direct rapport, which is so fundamentally important in our industry between buyers and sellers?"

During welcoming remarks at the Screenings, a number of studio executives reassured buyers that they will indeed remain open for business. As to the second query, the informal answer was also yes. The L.A. Screenings will continue, they said, but many noted that the event will most likely morph into something different--something that has yet to be envisioned.

Ultimately, the bottom line is this--if the U.S. TV networks continue to commission pilots and hold their Upfront presentations in New York City in May, then the L.A. Screenings will follow immediately after. (And it is on this basis that VideoAge has prepared a preliminary L.A. Screenings 2020 calendar.)

Several statements from top-level U.S. network executives further reassured future L.A. Screenings participants.

According to Lachlan Murdoch, CEO of Fox Corp., which owns the FOX TV network and a group of 28 local U.S. TV stations, the company is expanding its "portfolio of owned and co-owned content," and FOX will have an equity stake in most of the shows on the network.

Joseph Ianniello, CEO of CBS, told The Los Angeles Times that "We don't mind selling [our] shows to third parties and taking that money and reinvesting it back into more content for us. If we can make money while we're still driving the number of [CBS All Access] subscribers, we're going to continue to do that."

It is clear, however, that an era of uncertainty is now engulfing the television world. The latest SVoD developments, driven by Wall Street, have left the worldwide film-TV industry in a state of shock and disbelief, especially because there are no clear answers. Now, more than ever, Oscar-winning screenwriter William Goldman's quote, "Nobody knows anything," can be applied to show business.

For years, the U.S. studios wanted to "eliminate the middle-man" and go straight to the consumers. This desire was accelerated by the consumer's (and Wall Street's) obsession with Netflix. It's not that the show biz sector...

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