Newen Rebrands Distribution Activities Under Newen Connect (EXCLUSIVE)

Newen Group, the Paris-based international production and distribution company owned by French’s biggest TV network TF1 Group, is rebranding its distribution activities and rejigging its structure under the banner Newen Connect.

The new organization, which will be spearheaded by Rodolphe Buet, will bring together Newen Distribution, TF1 Studio and Reel One Intl. to streamline their processes and operations. The Newen Connect team will comprise more than 20 executives located in Paris, London, Montreal, New York and Buenos Aires.

Buet, who was previously one of the top execs at Studiocanal, joined Newen in February as chief distribution officer and reports to Romain Bessi, the managing director of Newen. The company is in the process of hiring a head of sales for Newen Connect.

Within Newen Connect, Sabine Chemaly, the veteran sales executive who runs TF1 Studio, will manage international film sales and marketing; Coralie Chave will handle sales for TF1 DA rights and TF1’s antenna rights in France, and all French-speaking territories; Sébastien Battro will oversee the distribution of Reel One TV movies overseen by Tom Berry, the CEO of Reel One; and Karine Atlan, based in Paris, and Dominic Schreiber, based in London, will manage acquisition and co-production activities.

Newen boasts a library of more than 5,500 hours of TV programming and 1,000 films spanning different genres. Since the arrival of Bessi, another former top-level Studiocanal exec, at the helm of Newen in 2018, the French company has become more and more international, growing its presence in Europe as well as North America.

Backed by Anton Capital, Newen has been building a slate of premium content, ranging from drama to TV films, animated series and documentaries with in-house production banners such as Telfrance, Capa, 17 juin média and Blue Spirit in France, Tuvalu and Pupkin in the Netherlands, Nimbus in Denmark, De Mensen in Belgium and Reel One in Canada, on top of third-party producers.

Buet told Variety that the reorg and umbrella brand Newen Connect will allow the banner to be more coordinated and proactive on the acquisition front, optimize funding and resources, as well as better serve in-house and third-party producers.

The streamlined structure will also give everyone in the distribution and marketing teams the opportunity to share best practice across its feature film and TV businesses, and get a better sense of what broadcasters and streaming services are looking for, said Buet, who cited the examples of local TV movies which were rating hits in their respective territories, notably “Pourquoi je vis,” a biopic of the young French singer Gregory Lemarchal, on TF1.

“It’s key for us to understand local culture and Europe has a wonderful tradition of storytelling stemming from its rich history and culture – it’s a gold mine that we want to explore and bring to global audiences,” said Buet, who noted that Walt Disney’s most iconic tales have been inspired by Italian, French and German culture.

Speaking of the predominant role played by streamers such as Netflix, Amazon and Disney Plus, Buet said the audiovisual and film landscape is going through a revolution that’s only just started. “Becoming a more global and compact group working across TV and film is essential to thrive in this market and meet the high demand from streaming services and broadcasters alike,” Buet pointed out.

The exec said Newen Connect will also ramp up its digital marketing activities and is looking to increase its presence on social media and video-sharing tools to better showcase its library and IPs. Newen recently launched YouTube channels dedicated to its program highlights, including “Effet Papillon,” a news-driven investigative documentary series produced by Capa.

In spite of the pandemic, Newen is filming 17 series in France, Denmark and the Netherlands under strict sanitary guidelines.

During Mipcom, Newen Connect’s teams will work together in a venue to better serve partners and broadcasters, as well as as recreate the market experience. The company will showcase its anticipated series at the Global Upfronts, Mipcom’s new feature, notably the dance-filled workplace drama “The Opera,” which is produced by Telfrance.

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