Marie Jacobson, executive VP, programming and production, networks, SPT
Marie Jacobson acquires and develops content across all of Sony’s international channel brands including AXN, SET and Spin. She talks to TBI about the latest developments.
What is Sony’s international programming strategy?
We deep dive when we launch a channel, but overall we’re about centralised development and multi-territory acquisitions.
What have been some of your recent deals?
We acquired The Firm for AXN. This was a great pick-off of our local strategy. We’re big buyers of projects, but we’re also passionate about original series. It’s the beginning of a great strategy to produce original series.
We also bought [Kiefer Sutherland action series] The Confession, which came through [talent agency] CAA. The challenge is being a 25+ action platform and finding digital projects that work on air. The Confession was the perfect solution. We’re trying to get it into the hands of as many consumers as possible.
We’ll have a second original series for AXN and SET by the end of the year. AXN’s footprint covers a great part of the world, but we’re not in pre-sale territories so we can round out financing.
I am looking for our next Firm. I’m looking for the next AXN multi-territory commission and looking for projects that can fill this void. I want it to be edgier than a US network [series]; we’re looking at the European market, we’d love a pitch from an indie that pushes the envelope on drama. We really want to mix it up internationally. We want to be more daring in our next commission. I want to be surprised by, for example, something that has a strong female lead, a kick-ass female hero.
Are you being pitched series now?
We’re actually doing a roadshow with the agencies right now. A lot of creatives in LA weren’t aware that we were buying off script so funnily enough we’re pitching our wares to them.
Can you tell us more about Spin, the channel that you launched earlier this year in Latin America?
It’s a channel that’s targeted at 14-24 youths in Latin America. We came in early on Teen Wolf and it’s had a turn around in ratings that’s been great. We’re looking for youth targeted formats that can cut-through.
What were you looking for at MIPCOM?
MIPCOM is a big midseason market. For example, Missing is a particularly interesting show. We have that show in Central and Eastern Europe and in Latin America. It feels like a truly international show and aligns with our international strategy so we went in hard to close it. We’re absolutely looking at that show in a couple of other markets. We’re also looking at Good Christian Belles, which is a great passing of the baton from one set of Housewives to another.
MIPCOM remains vital but we’re finding that the pace that we’re closing deals has increased. Half of our deals have closed; MIPCOM used to be a closing market but now we’re going in to celebrate deals.
It’s a hyper competitive market. We now have to be a bit more nimble because we all want the next big thing.
It’s also about coproductions. MIPCOM is fertile for great ideas with great drama houses that we don’t have in LA.