Welcome to Deadline’s International Disruptors, a feature where we focus on CEOs and companies outside the United States shaking up the offshore marketplace. This week, we’re talking Roman Rossi, CEO of French group Neuen Studios. The company that is producing FriendshipThe first English and French language for Apple TV +, its global ambition is growing and Bessie is taking us through the overall strategy.
When the French media giant TF1 Group had an eye on a complete occupation Versailles After producer Newen Studios bought a 70% stake in 2017 a few years ago, the company knew it needed to hire an executive that would transform the French-centric company into an international operation that would be able to meet the demands of a constantly changing content market. . Put your feet in the Roman basin.
The well-respected Bessie came out of a nearly decade-long career at StudioCanal, which at the time was considered a major success story for the Vivendi-owned Canal Plus Group. As COO, Bessie was the driver behind the most important pan-European giant’s deals, including a € 150M ($ 164M) slate financing deal with Anton Capital Entertainment, as well as its acquisition of equity shares in German tandem communications and 3D companies. . These agreements were, in the end, to transform the French-centric organization, which spans France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Australia and New Zealand, into an international behemoth. Paddington In a billion dollar global franchise.
“It was quite clear that TF1 wanted to do something similar to me,” Bessie told Deadline in a rare interview from his Paris office. “The goalposts here are different in that Newen is a pure production player that is diverse in terms of content. That’s the decent thing to do, and it should end there. “
Since Bessie joined Newen in 2018, the company has gained a presence in eight countries with more than 40 labels from a gallic-centric and drama-heavy public service content producer: Newen France in France; Newen Connect (its distribution arm) and TF1 studios in France and the UK; Reel One in Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States; IZen in Spain and UK; De Mansen in Belgium; Tuvalu in the Netherlands; Blue Spirits in France and Canada; Ringside Studios UK; And Flair film in Germany.
Combining a variety of styles and talents, the company is becoming one of the most dynamic players in the content game worldwide. It is making series like Vincent Castle and Eva Green thriller FriendshipThe first English and French language original, eight-part historical drama from Apple TV + Marie Antoinette From Dear Author Deborah Davis and her German thriller for Canal Plus in France Funeral for a dogScores well to listeners and critics based on Thomas Platzinger’s novel of the same name.
Neuven is also a strong player in the European Daily Soaps genre, with the Bessie French series being “very proud”. Here it all begins Strong ratings on TF1 in France and Belgium series Lisa VTM is launching in Belgium earlier this year.
Bessie, who went from managing director to CEO of Newen in January, has always seen opportunities outside his local boundaries. Born to parents who both worked in the public entertainment sector, Bessie began her career at Ernst & Young after graduating from the prestigious Neoma Business School in France. There, he was attracted to assignments in the audio-visual sector.
He joined Canal Plus Group in 1997 before becoming the managing controller of the pay-TV channel Canal +, before which he was appointed financial director of Sport +, where he handled international discussions on sports rights. After working as financial director in Sweden’s Canal + Nordic, Canal + SA and Canal + Group editions, he moved to StudioCanal in 2007 where he led the company’s international growth. In 2017, Newen was hired by TF1 for one year before he began creating international footprints and diversifying his production.
It is clear that Bessie was the one to deliver: In 2021, after the acquisition of a majority stake in the German production company Flair Films and the acquisition of Spanish apparel iZen, activities outside of France accounted for 47% of Neuen’s total revenue.
For the approachable and enthusiastic internationalists, the strategy is simple: to align with like-minded companies in the main European market that Newen can support through its rich library IP, financial muscle and its experienced team and, in turn, diversify Newen’s portfolio.
“We try to bring additional tools to companies so that they can do things they haven’t been able to do before,” Bessie said of the label’s acquisition and partnership strategy. “But the goal, of course, is to make sure they can continue to do what they used to do.”
This is a very organic method that is unspecified in terms of structure for its companies. Newen, Bessie notes, is smart enough to be open to any kind of structure, be it a majority stake, a minority stake or a complete acquisition of a company. Newen supports these organizations when they are needed through business or legal matters or through Newen Connect.
“It’s more about ensuring that the person thinks we can do things together that are bigger than he can do on his own, and if the person is really sure about it, it’s about finding a structure that aligns with interest. . “
Although the goal was to create a pan-European production hub, Newen did not bind himself in this manner in 2019 when the Canadian costume behind the series, Tom Berry, took a majority in Real One. Detective McLean. Newen saw an exciting opportunity to ramp up his English-language TV movie slate and use European IPs in the US, Canada and the UK because, at the time, Real One made up 90% of its revenue outside of Canada.
“It was an interesting model for us because they were making English-language movies that you would see on Lifetime in the United States or TF1 in France,” he said. “It really was an opportunity to diversify our portfolio.”
Since the deal, Real One has tripled its production activity and is working on an English-language remake of the drama series with Newen’s Belgian costume de Mansen. Tim Chocolate (Tigat chocolate) Last year, Lifetime Parent acquired a 35% stake in A&E Networks Company.
For its aggregate of producers, Newen offers an extensive library of over 6,000 hours and 1,000 movies, giving them access to a wide range of IPs. In 2020, Newen StudiosCanal hired Rudolf Buet, a former colleague of Bassi, to manage its distribution activities and to combine the activities of Newen Connect and TF1 Studios. Bessie says its companies are regularly updated about formats and movies that can be used for local remakes.
Bessie described the creation of opportunities for this creative combination as another “Shenzhen approach to content”.
“It’s about making IP available to everyone, facilitating co-production, bringing in some gap-funding for big projects and much more. Our companies are still independent, but they have the opportunity to work together and we try to make it easy. “
Earlier this year, financier Anton Newen increased his investment by 40% to 50M ($ 54.5M). The extension of the contract comes after two years of Anton investment where Newen has backed OCS’s choice. Opera, France Television / RTBF / ARD Crossroads And VRT / Art Lost luggage. Newen’s upcoming documentary on fashion designer John Galliano Whitney Director Kevin MacDonald also includes new extensions.
“It’s a risky business and in a risky business you want to share the risk,” said Bessie of the deal. “It simply came to our notice then. They do not interfere in creative or content selection. “
Going forward, Bessie says the next steps are to move to Italy and expand further into Scandinavia (the company currently operates only in Denmark). Then, he said, it became more about growing within its existing territories.
“The trend over the last few years has shown that local is really the new international,” he said, adding that the current climate is “very strong for local producers.”
“Local players want local content that makes sense for the local area, but platforms now also want local content,” he says. “There are a lot more producers in the market right now, which makes it a bit more complicated but it is a booming market and it is always changing. The funny thing is that streamers want local content but most of them have local agencies. So now you are talking about a French project with a Frenchman in the French market and it could be that they are working for a global player. “
Her main concern, however, is the health of the public sector and traditional broadcasters, which she feels are an integral part of ensuring diverse and creative stories.
“We don’t want to lose all the traditional players,” he said. “I know it’s challenging, and they keep fighting and they find new ways to reach the audience. So, as a local player, I want to make sure that within ten years I can work with the public service as well as Netflixes and Amazons around the world. That’s the decent thing to do, and it should end there. “
He adds, “There is no such thing as ‘European way of working’ but there is a common culture.” Even if we speak English, it is not enough. We must adapt to different cultures and respect different cultures to make things work. It’s not about the French way of working or an English way of working, it’s about trying to find a middle way, which is really original. “
This week’s edition of Deadline’s International Disruptors is presented by Guillotine Vodka.