MIPCOM Buyers Buzz: Karrie Wolfe, RDF USA

With MIPCOM fast approaching, realscreen chatted with several buyers to find out what may be on their shopping lists for the market. Here, we talk with Karrie Wolfe, senior vice president of RDF USA, about what she's looking for in formats.
September 28, 2009

What has RDF USA picked up recently that we’ll be seeing soon?

We are currently in production on six episodes of Find My Family for ABC. When we optioned this, it had been on the air in Holland for 18 years. The subjects of the show are all trying to find loved ones with whom they’ve lost contact for various reasons, and it’s very touching. It’s one of those formats that sucks you in and leaves you without a dry eye.

What are you looking for in terms of unscripted at this upcoming market?

As with the last market I’ll be most interested in shows with a loud, fun premise that are viewable by an entire family sitting around the TV. Also, I’ll be looking for shows that are inspirational without being too earnest. All of these formats must be either primetime formats or those with big ratings in their respective territories. We need these to help sell the formats into the US. Lastly, I’m on the lookout for big loud characters – those who are experts in their fields and have a really unique perspective and personality.

Has the global economy impacted the content you’ve been seeing over the past year in terms of subject matter or tone?

Not yet. There were always financial coaching shows before the economy crumbled, as there was always debt. But I do know of a few shows in production in the US, UK and other key markets that will be tackling the subject of unemployment whether through traditional documentaries or more formatted observational documentaries.

Do you think this will be a busy market?

Like MIPTV I know most companies will be sending far fewer executives to the market. There will be an impact on attendance but I feel optimistic that there is still much business to be made. I can’t say I’ve had less options for formats to acquire. The bigger networks, for the most part, need strong non-scripted formats to fill their programming and the bigger production and distribution companies are telling me they have many new formats in the pipeline for MIPCOM.

Have US broadcasters become a little pickier when it comes to foreign formats?

US broadcasters are pickier in general. In today’s market every show being pitched needs the ultimate package. Whether it be a well-known talent or an international ratings history, there has to be an element to the show that makes the execs feel they have to have it. International formats still pique the interests of US buyers, though. When you look at the successful non-scripted formats on US broadcast networks, about half are imported formats. This says a lot about American networks’ interest in the international space.

Lastly, if we spot you standing at the bar of The Grand, what can we buy you?

Hey – if you’re buying, I’m not going to be picky. Especially if I don’t have to spend the insane amount of money the bartenders always end up charging me there!

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.