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Local producer finds new concepts a tough sell

Hungarian broadcasters prefer local versions of proven formats and storylines, but the head of NuMuvee says her studio still tries to push beyond the frontiers of the familiar.

Tímea Tompa: ‘Hungary is not a pioneer market.’ (Photo: Mátyás Pödőr) 

Started in the 1960s, the familiar TV game show format in which people from different towns compete in silly physical challenges is known as “Intervilles”, and a variation called “It’s a Knockout” was long popular in the U.K. In Hungary, the show is known as “Játék határok nélkül” (“Games Without Frontiers”) and a local production company called NuMuvee Hungary Ltd. brings it to Hungarian TVs.

Despite the popularity of the Hungarian version, the producer finds it hard to break out of familiar formulas and find investment for content that is based on new ideas.

Tímea Tompa, executive producer at NuMuvee, spoke to the Budapest Business Journal during the NATPE conference for TV content about the possibilities for Hungarian production firms.

What type of media content is typically sought for by buyers in Hungary at the moment?

There are no big differences between Hungary and other European markets. Locally produced fiction is in the spotlight.

The CEE is doing well in terms of locally produced material, but what are the chances that these productions can make it big in foreign markets?

In the short term, it is not likely to happen, and this is partially because Hungarian broadcasters like to choose programs that have already proven to be successful in other European markets. New formats are rarely chosen for broadcast. Fiction adaptation is very popular, and this confirms the fact that – unfortunately – Hungary is not a pioneer market, but follows international trends. There are exceptions, as always. Hungarian professionals do have the experience to produce content that sells internationally, as lots of TV series and Hollywood blockbusters are produced in Hungary.

Hungary is described as a mature market; how is it different from developing markets?

Broadcasters have their own creative staff, meaning that they usually outsource production services only. Production offices provide professional production services, but there are no traditional studios producing content from scratch. NuMuvee decided to gather professionals to cover all the relevant knowledge and competence. By covering the full spectrum of development and production, we are able to serve more broadcasters in a country and more countries in the region in parallel.

Serving more countries in CEE also implies regional cooperation at some level. Is this your experience?

Cooperation might be cost-effective, because these markets are relatively small, but we wouldn’t say that such cooperation is typical. NuMuvee Hungary Ltd. has years of experience in producing international content, so we’ve worked out our practices to help such cooperation. That’s why we are looking for either scripted or non-scripted content that will work for two or more broadcasters in the region, and of course, we always try to convince broadcasters to cooperate. This is not an easy negotiation, due to different needs and notions in different countries, but even if this journey takes time, it can be worth the time and effort we put into it.

How do Hungarian buyers react to the fragmentation of content, which is becoming available on multiple platforms such as on-demand schemes, streaming, etc.?

Even if these solutions are available in Hungary, they are at their very beginning. Linear television is still in good shape. NuMuvee is monitoring other markets, especially the American market, to see the changes in trends, and we also develop and look for content for different platforms, and analyze the opportunities ahead.

Does this mean you are looking into producing online content as well?

We are seriously thinking of producing on-line content, but the Hungarian on-line market is too small and it is still developing and not yet profitable, so we would rather produce content for international markets, including Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, but there are many possibilities using Vimeo or YouTube as well. On top of that, we see opportunities in future cooperation with over-the-top content providers.