First exposure to international business: a meeting at DR (Danish Broadcasting Corporation), making a deal for a co-production on a special for Showtime. Followed by another deal with a production partner from a 14th century circus family in Sweden. And more deals: the CBC (Canada) and the UK (ITV). It wasn’t long before MTV’s Remote Control became popular in other countries: Australia, Brazil, Greece, Italy, Puerto Rico, Canada. As a result of our deal with Disney, we saw versions of Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego? in Spain, Italy, Germany and French Canada.
There were book deals, too. For my very first book, lunch and a deal with my editor at Sphere Books in London (now part of Penguin Random House). The Complete Time Traveler was completely rebuilt for hardback publication in Japan. The Billboard Listener’s Guide to World Music attracted international attention.
As awareness grew, so did opportunity. Norman Lear’s ACT III Broadcasting requested a plan for the development of Hong Kong’s first large cable system, and offered the opportunity to build it. A deal with Berlusconi’s syndication funding arm resulted in Perception!, one of the first game shows specially designed for international distribution.
MiND Travels to Wales and The Cotwolds was a pilot for our first exploration outside the US. It was accompanied by new 24/7 channel deals with Japan’s public broadcaster, NHK World, France 24, and RT (Russia). MiND provided airtime to show the world, so we partnered with Deutsche Welle (Germany), Out of Ireland, and MHz Worldview (programs from Korea, South Africa, China, Taiwan, Vietnam, the Netherlands and more). A World of Dance in Philadelphia celebrated cross-cultural traditions with performances and interviews from Appalachia, China, Latin America, India, Spain, and Ukraine. We used MiND’s flexible format to introduce maps and geography instruction as MiNDGAMES. Covering the 2016 Democratic National Convention, MiND spent its time with reporters from Poland, Spain, Venezuela, Japan, and elsewhere, telling the story of the election by presenting international perspectives. Other regularly-scheduled MiND programs focus on India, Poland, China, Greece, and more.
From the start, we built Snapscreen as an international venture. Based and funded in Vienna, Austria, the staff works in Russia, the U.S., and Germany. The company uses sophisticated image recognition to build apps that make the television experience interactive.
Current plans lead to Uganda, and a media fellowship with Peripheral Vision, a nonprofit that focuses on Africa. This is related to the ongoing development of a new internet service to connect children and teenagers around the world.
Fellowship, Peripheral Vision, Uganda
Marketing / Distribution Partner, NHK World, France 24, and RT (Russia)
Television format deals: UK, Spain, Germany, Italy, French Canada, Australia, Brazil, Puerto Rico; Book deals in Japan, UK, Germany
Co-production ventures: Sweden, Denmark, Canada, Mexico
Chief Product Officer, Snapscreen, global OTT tech startup, Vienna, Austria
Copyright © 2017 by Howard Blumenthal. All rights reserved.