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Banijay Rights Cathy Payne On Streaming Originals & Risk-Taking

The boss of one of the world’s biggest TV distributors has predicted streamers will return to commissioning originals in bulk once they “break even.”

Cathy Payne, who runs Big Brother and Black Mirror seller Banijay Rights, said there is “no doubt” the deep-pocketed U.S. giants are currently ordering less originals, preferring to strike alternative deals such as “enhanced pre-sale acquisitions.”

“It’s well documented that streamers have had difficulty in reaching their targets and streamers launching in markets has been tough economically, with high interest rates and so on,” she added. “There is no doubt the streamers are commissioning less originals and are rather looking for enhanced pre-sales acquisitions till they get to a point where they’re breaking even, then they’ll come back with more originals.”

Payne added: “It’s not subscribers at any cost, services have to make money.”

Payne backed up Netflix EMEA boss Larry Tanz’s comments from earlier this week that streamers are currently open to a multitude of different rights packages. Tanz had revealed research that found Netflix only owns the IP on 25% of its European projects.

“There are certain shows we’re involved with where the streamer is just one territory,” added Payne. “Obviously when the streamers are commissioning for their domestic market they want it to work in that market first and foremost and then if it has the ability to travel then that is good. There has been more non-scripted commissioning as well, coming into the mix.”

On the flip side, Payne stressed that streamers are still clearly committed to originals and are “not spending any less” on these shows. “I don’t see many Apple shows that look underfunded,” said Payne.

Netflix has unveiled dozens of European shows in the past few weeks including a seventh season of Charlie Brooker’s Black Mirror, while Disney+ and Max used Series Mania talks to unveil smaller slates.

There is undoubtedly less risk-taking in the market at present but broadcasters and distributors are prepared to commit in a bigger way to less projects, Payne addded.

“When we look at funding shows I have to look now at how to fund for three to five seasons,” she added. “You have to be scrappy and think, while living within the means of what is available. That will take a change in attitude from broadcasters in how they commission.”

Buying ‘Suits’

Speaking on the day the BBC acquired Suits for its iPlayer service, Payne said local networks building up their VoD has “become useful” for distributors like Banijay Rights.

“Domestic linear broadcasters have built catch-up services into fully-fledged VoD offerings where they acquire specific shows for the platform, and that has become a useful way for us to finance some of our programs,” said Payne.

Payne was one of the last speakers at this year’s Series Mania, which has also featured the likes of Sony, Disney+ and HBO.

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