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Ynon Kreiz

Ynon Kreiz joined formats giant Endemol as CEO in June. He tells Stewart Clarke about his plans.

You joined Endemol at the start of June – what is your reading of where the company is today?
The investment in Endemol was made by three shareholders, two of which ­ Goldman Sachs and Cyrte ­ are professional investors and Mediaset is one of the most successful broadcasters in Europe. They bought in to build the company up and get it into bigger and better shape. We own a great platform. Endemol is the biggest production company in the world. Last year we produced 36,000 hours in 25 countries.

In broad terms, how do you plan to grow the business?
There are a few things we are aiming at. There will be both business expansion and geographic expansion. On the business side we are looking to get into distribution of third-party intellectual property. For that purpose we have hired Tom Toumazis ­ to build our position on the distribution side. We are also currently looking at the scripted programming business.

You are moving into third-party distribution and scripted programming. How long do you anticipate it will take to build a profile in those areas?
It won¹t take too long, we already have a global infrastructure. Historically, we have been focused on distributing Endemol product ­ now we want to distribute third-party IP too.

The economic outlook is uncertain. What impact will that have on media companies and Endemol in particular?
We have to be very adaptive to changing commercial models. We want to be very well diversified and well resourced. It’s very tough for smaller operators and companies that are dependant upon smaller clients. Size and scale become even more important.

Does the economic downturn represent an opportunity for well capitalised companies?
Yes, it’s the right time to invest and acquire when the market is soft and there’s not a lot of liquidity.

Are the funds in place to make acquisitions?
Yes, we have a large acquisition facility and shareholders that are well resourced if there is the right deal.

There have been lots of new faces at Endemol since you have joined – can we expect to see a lot more new personnel?
Yes, we have a few more people to hire ­ there are some new roles that feed into our expansion plan.

Are you changing the corporate structure at the company?
Yes, we are changing the structure. We have a clear plan to build the commercial position of the company. We¹re very strong creatively and want ensure we are commercially too. We’re looking at the company in a different way.

Endemol has enjoyed fantastic success with Big Brother and Deal or No Deal. Has the company has been over-reliant on a handful of well-known hit formats?
It’s great to have two global blockbusters like Deal or No Deal and Big Brother. That’s two more than most people. We have several shows that are doing very well and we are focused on creating new programming. Right now we have a great hit in Wipeout, which is selling faster than Deal or No Deal did and is our fastest selling show since Big Brother. It’s the number one new series on ABC and has been sold already into 18 markets and counting.

So, the company is doing enough to generate new hit shows?
Endemol has 16 creative units all over the world that do nothing but think about and develop new shows, so we have the right infrastructure and the resources.

Historically we have managed to generate hit shows although there is no set formula to this. But we are in a strong position to create new global properties. Then when we have a good show, we can sell it, build it and market it in the right way. We have also recently appointed Paul Römer ­ one of Big Brother‘s co-creators – as global head of programming to further build and consolidate our creative network worldwide.

How will Endemol grow its scripted programming business?
One of our best kept secrets is that we are already pretty successful in the scripted business ­ we have more than 200 scripted titles created and more than $200 million worth of sales of scripted product. But this has been done on a local market basis ­ by the local production companies and sold to the local clients. Now we will extend that out to all of Endemol so it becomes a global push.

What is John de Mol’s role in the running of the company?
John de Mol’s not involved in the day to day management of the company. I have the utmost respect for what he did in creating and launching Endemol, which is his legacy. He has played a key part in the company’s success.