Federation Ent. Sells ‘The Bureau,’ ‘Bad Banks,’ Pushes Development, Retools Distribution (EXCLUSIVE)

MADRID —  Rolling out muscular first sales on Season 5 of “The Bureau” and “Bad Banks” Season 2, Paris and Los Angeles-based Federation Entertainment is bringing onto the market a powerful new slate led by not only new seasons of “The Bureau” and “Bad Banks”  but also Omri Givon’s “The Grave” as it accelerates development with the COVID-lockdown, and hones a new marketing and sales strategies for a virtual marketplace.

Major sales on “The Bureau” Season 5 include the Sundance Channel for the  U.S. and U.K., SBS (Australia), VRT and Be TV (Belgium), SVT (Sweden), NRK (Norway).

Germany, Italy, Spain and Russia are in advanced negotiation.

Of more major territiries, “Bad Banks” Season 2 has closed HBO Europe, Hulu U.S., Walter Presents (U.K.), and AMC Iberia, RTL Luxembourg and Rialto for New Zealand.

The sales underscore the healthy fundamentals of the premium series business in much of the Eurozone, where production costs are far lower than the U.S. and, indeed, the U.K.

They come as Federation Entertainment is re-defining its priorities in times of COVID-19 whose total cases officially confirmed in France rose to 33,o57 on March 28.

“We have to act differently with four main brains,” said Federation Entertainment co-founder and MD Lionel Uzan.

That cuts four ways: Finance – cashflow, for instance – and legal aspects to shoot lockdown; production, where shutdown payments should be clarified in a few days; and development and distribution,” he added.

Currently, France’s CNC and Ministry of Culture look set to dictate soon compensation packages for shutdown shoots.

Regarding production, “the question is when we’ll have a perspective on timing so that we can really start working on the planning,” said Uzan.

Until there’s more visibility on that score, when it comes to ongoing business, Federation Entertainment is focusing on the two points in the supply chain that can still be advanced amidst coronavirus: Development and distribution.

As production halts, Federation Entertainment will “not decelerate, but accelerate” first-stage new development, Uzan said.

“It’s clearly a big, big focus since last week and will be for the upcoming weeks. We need to use this time to grow the development slate, discuss new ideas, option books, courting new writers,” he added.

“Our producers and development executives are having daily video calls with writers for new projects. I was on the phone with one of our top Israeli partners, Drama Team’s Chaim Shari, who produced ‘The Grave.’ We spent half the call trying to think about how and what can we put into development quickly.

Uzan said he’s had the same discussion with Federation L.A., and Italian entities. “Development is key for the coming days.”

Federation Entertainment was looking to showcase five titles at either Series Mania or Canneseries, including “The Bureau” Season 5, which was to close Canneseries and “The Grave,” from Omri Givon, and Swedish Viaplay title “Partisan,” both main competition Canneseries entries.

“It’s very frustrating,” Uzan said. But Federation is looking to use the occasion to re-engineer its distribution and marketing for a totally digital age.

That entails developing new marketing tools, Uzan said, such as hiring a digital marketing agency to adapt Federation’s original plans for Series Mania and Canneseries titles to remote location launch, analyze how to retool Federation’s current and library offer to new market opportunities, and re-envision the company’s marketing for post Covid-19.

Federation will also look to create “event” campaigns, focusing on slightly less titles. moving back pushing back one or two series, such as “Partisan,” which does not be on NENT’s Viaplay until the fall.

“I’m pretty optimistic about keeping a level of business that is not really hurt by this situation. Of course, hoping that it’s not going to last forever,” Uzan said.

One question could be if ad-dependent broadcast networks, whose advertising revenue is clearly hurt, will be able to buy at the same levels of pricing before COVID-19. “The question is how long the COVID-19’s impact lasts,” he recognized.

“The market is very driven by new platforms, however, and all of the players need new content,” he added.

As Ampere Analysis’ Guy Bisson pointed out in his MipTV Online Plus presentation on Monday, as Hollywood’s studios retain original productions for their own VOD services, Europe’s biggest content suppliers gain as especial importance given their sales to third parties.

It helps, too, that Federation is launching two of the virtual marketplace’s biggest new titles, Season 5 of painstakingly crafted espionage thriller “The Bureau,” recently chosen by The New York Times, as the third best international series of last decade, and “The Grave,” a novel leap into sci-fi fantasy for Israeli series, the follow-up to Omri Givon’s Canneseries 2018 best series winner “When Eagles Fly,” Bowing last October on Keshet 12, it proved its second-highest rated drama ever (after “When Heroes Fly”) since the channel’s launch in November 2017.

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