Viewpoint: K7 Media shares top traveling formats

David Ciaramella, communications manager with international media consultancy K7 Media, shares company insights into the top 100 traveling formats of all time. In a TV market defined by volatility and digital ...
February 9, 2018

David Ciaramella, communications manager with international media consultancy K7 Media, shares company insights into the top 100 traveling formats of all time.

In a TV market defined by volatility and digital disruption, it can be reassuring to take a step back and look at what is working around the world in regards to entertainment formats. The picture revealed through our research shows that while the ascent of on-demand viewing may have shaken up the concept of scheduling and the way we gauge success, the shows that people watch are not so different. In many cases, these series were around long before the SVOD revolution and will likely be with us for years to come.

That’s the top-level finding of K7 Media’s latest report, Tracking the Giants: The Top 100 Travelling Formats, compiled from K7 Media’s research and data from international distributors.

It is perhaps no surprise to find Who Wants to be A Millionaire? continues to hold the top spot as the most widely sold format. A neat 100 versions of Millionaire have existed worldwide, and around one quarter can still be found on air. It’s an evergreen format, and as with any long-running series, it has had years to build brand awareness around the globe.

The fact that eight out of the top 10 formats are more than a decade old should not be ignored. Fellow veteran formats Wheel of Fortune (35 versions total worldwide) and The Price is Right (46) make the list, as does Family Feud, now in its 41st year.

Eighty per cent of the world’s most popular formats are distributed by just 10 companies, with Endemol Shine Group coming out on top with 22% of the formats featured, followed by FremantleMedia and Warner Bros. International Television Distribution.

The UK is still the most prolific producer of formats that travel; looking at those formats with five or more international versions the country comes out top, with the U.S. and the Netherlands following. However, the last decade has seen UK and US originated shows slippin,g while Dutch format sales have increased, suggesting that the next ten years could be very interesting.

What are the new formats that have broken through to worldwide success? Shows launched in the last five years that have made the list include My Mom Cooks Better than Yours, which ranked 25th, Gogglebox (joint 26th with three other formats), and Married at First Sight (joint 45th with Undercover Boss). The most recent series to enter the Top 100 is Warner Bros’ Little Big Shots, which has already seen 20 local adaptations produced despite being launched in 2016.

But what of the broader trends? When we break the data down by genre, we see that game shows still account for 36% of the top 100 formats, with the largest sub-group of these being quiz-based. The next biggest genre is reality television, accounting for 34% of the list. 19% of those formats are talent shows, with cookery contests growing fast behind them on 9%.

We have broken our findings down into five categories for ease of use: Powerhouse, New Powerhouse, Golden Oldies, Strong Starters and Ones to Watch.

Powerhouse formats are those over 15 years old, with at least 30% of their adaptations still on air. This grouping includes heavyweight performers such as The Bachelor, Dragons’ Den, Big Brother and Survivor. Biting at their heels we have the New Powerhouse formats — the shows that are between six and 15 years old with 30% of their adaptations still airing. It’s here you’ll find properties such as The Voice, Bake Off, Top Chef and Kitchen Nightmares. The division between the older wave of reality TV, which defines the Powerhouse category, and the current trend for talent and cookery in the New Powerhouses, is clear.

There are also Golden Oldies — those venerable formats older than 15 years which still have 10% of their adaptions in active production. Titles such as Jeopardy, The Weakest Link and Fear Factor may have fallen prey to changing tastes, but are still relevant globally – and generating revenue.

Of course, it’s the future performance of newer formats that will drive most commercial decisions today. We can learn some lessons from our Strong Starters – the shows that launched with a splash in the last 15 years but have struggled to stay in the market. Total Blackout and Minute To Win It are typical of this category.

Finally we have our Ones to Watch the shows that have launched in the last five years and still have at least half of their local versions still on air. It’s here we find shows like Gogglebox, Boom!, I Can Do That, First Dates and Lip Sync Battle.

There is understandable concern over how the disruptive presence of Netflix and Amazon will impact the formats market, but our analysis suggests that – from a production standpoint at least – the market for broadcast quiz shows, reality shows, cooking and talent contests remains high.

David Ciaramella is Communications Manager at K7 Media and has been with the company since 2013. As well as helping to introduce new subscribers to K7′s services, David provides additional support to existing clients with updates on developments across the content landscape and supports the K7 team on client research tasks.

David regularly travels to markets and to visit clients around the world, presenting on trends with a focus on unscripted formats.

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