CANNES – Fox Corporation’s newly formed senior entertainment group came to Mipcom with checkbooks this year.
Speaking at the opening of the International Content Conference on Monday evening, the trio of executives told the crowd that they had come to make new friends and make some deals around the world. The company is bucking the trend toward direct-to-consumer subscription platforms in media. Fox is putting its resources into content and IP that can be moved around the world and can be adapted in many ways.
“Others are trying to hide their content behind a paywall,” said Rob Wade, who was appointed CEO of Fox Entertainment this month. We see potential in working with networks, producers and distributors to get our content out there more.
Wade was joined on the panel by Fernando Szew, CEO of Fox Entertainment’s newly created global arm, and Michael Thorne, president of Fox Entertainment, which focuses on scripted content and animation. The three outlined areas of focus for the company created in 2019 following the sale of 21st Century Fox to Disney.
“Nimble, smart brand deals,” Wade said when asked what was on his wish list this week on the Cote d’Azur. “We’ve got our reference books,” he observed at the start of the half-hour session to ease the matter.
Szew came to Fox Corporation late last year when the company acquired LA-based production banner Marvista Entertainment. The executive trio emphasized that Fox is looking for assets and projects that generate a variety of entertainment value for the Fox Broadcast Network, the company’s ad-supported streaming service Tubi, and Fox’s local TV stations. Recent acquisitions such as TMZ’s TV and digital operations and Gordon Ramsay’s studio Ramsay are designed to expand those brands.
“We’re looking at like-minded people through innovation and distribution,” Szew said. “We’re buying formats and international partnerships.”
Thorn emphasized that Fox’s new model has the advantage of having a large footprint in the TV ecosystem — shows like “9-1-1” and “Lone Star: 9-1-1” still bring in more than 10 million. People a week – but the ability to act like a boutique when it comes to launching new series.
“When you think about some of the other platforms that we love on streaming, they put out maybe 15 series a month, we do less than that a year,” Thorne said. “So each of our shows is a favorite child as opposed to many. We think that care and attention from the company is very special.”
Wade, the former head of alternative programming at Fox, emphasized that it was one of the benefits of rebuilding the modest media company over the past three years after former chief Charlie Collier left the company for a new role at Roku last month. Ability to avoid the pitfalls of pre-programs, contract templates and internal studio obligations that complicate television broadcasting. He cited, for example, that Fox’s production units are now resourcing internal resources to produce documentaries for Tubby and Fox Sports.
A similar desire to jumpstart what can be a slow development process is at Thorn’s animation and scripting stage. “We’re starting to pick a lot of materials that we can handle ourselves and build globally,” Thorne said.
Overall, the session with the Fox trio reinforced how often the media brand had changed in the 1980s, pioneering the concept of vertical integration between network platforms and studio production. The new-model Fox is a more free agent in the 21st century ecosystem.
His mantra is “finding the best ideas. “With the best manufacturers and the best business models to do it for them at the most cost effective,” Wade said. Our goal is for everyone to win.
(Pictured: Fox’s Fernando Shaw, Rob Wade and Michael Thorne and DifferenceS Cynthia Littleton)