3D, smart devices move TV towards new entertainment era

The advent of 3D television and a new wave of smart mobile devices are energising the four-day MIPTV audiovisual entertainment industry show that gets underway Monday on the French Riviera.

"I have a sense that the digital economy hasn't had an opportunity to really explore the truly trans-media experiences offered by broadband Internet and its connection to TV," said Gary Carter, chief operating officer of FreemantleMedia, a major international entertainment production company.

"We need to see if innovative people and companies can make these things real," he told AFP.

This year's MIPTV will see key decision-makers and innovators from the digital, mobile telephone and entertainment industries brainstorm in hopes of finding great new experiences for consumers.

Most importantly from an industry point of view, it will also focus on how companies can make money from these new experiences in a world that has become used to downloading or buying content often for free.

The guest list includes mobile phone manufacturer Ericsson's president and chief executive, Hans Vestberg, who has predicted that there will be 50 billion connected devices in use by 2020.

3D television (3DTV) will be in the spotlight as a growing number of 3D channels are launched worldwide and debate rages over how long it will take for consumers to embrace such an enhanced viewing experience.

The uptake of 3D TV has been slower than anticipated, experts say. But a recent survey by In-Stat suggested that the number of 3D TV channels will break through the 100-channel barrier by 2014.

This year's MIPTV features a "3DTV Broadcast Content Experience" pavilion where the thousands of television buyers attending the show can screen a growing selection of 3DTV programmes.

"Over the last few months we have seen increasingly more content that is in 3D," MIPTV Laurine Garaude, director of show organizer Reed Midem's television division, told AFP.

Many of the programs on offer at this year's documentary MIPDOC convention that precedes MIPTV are being presented as "cross-media," Garaude said.

Consumers not yet ready to splash out for such new technology can look forward to new trends for star-studded TV drama series, plus the next wave of TV formats and game shows that make up most of today's primetime viewing.

Two lavish historical dramas, which will both premiere this year, include an opulent 10-episode "Camelot" that the show's makers say takes a fresh approach to the classic King Arthur story.

The Irish-Canadian co-production is representative of a trend for big international co-productions that help companies share the costs of creating blockbusters.

Coming from Hollywood to promoted "Camelot" will be Joseph Fiennes of "Shakespeare in Love" fame, who plays Merlin the magician in the series, and Eva Green, whose character who broke James Bond's heart in "Casino Royale".

Italy's infamous Borgia dynasty is the subject of another big historical drama co-produced by French pay channel Canal+. It will chart the family's rise to power and subsequent domination of the Vatican during the Renaissance.

"We're seeing more very large TV drama co-productions with casts of well-known international stars," MIPTV's Garaude noted.

Formats that can be reproduced easily and locally around the world are also tipped to remain popular with the many TV buyers who flock to Cannes to screen and select new programs for channels around the world.

"The most important trend emerging for the (audiovisual) industry as a whole is that TV buyers are back buying shows again," said Carter of FreemantleMedia, a part of the Bertelsmann empire that is behind the "Idols" reality talent series.

The feel-good factor remains strong amongst the huge-range of formats that will be up for grabs at the busy MIPTV market as well as formats with increasingly popular interactive elements.

"In terms of trends, we think formats that have a multiplatform element built in will be a big draw this market," Tom Toumazis, chief commercial officer at Dutch reality TV producers Endemol, told MIPWORLD.

Endemol's most recent interactive program, "The Money Drop," that enables viewers to play along simultaneously online at home has attracted over four million game players around the world.

Former action film star and California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will be in town to unveil an international TV series.

Shawn Doyle of "Big Love" and "The Eleventh Hour" will be there promote the new Canadian drama series about a brilliant chess grand master, "Endgame".

Some 11,500 participants from 99 countries are expected to attend, on par with last year's turnout. New countries attending this year include Botswana, Kenya and Congo as well as Mongolia and Pakistan.

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