Attendees on hand for the first day of sessions at MIPFormats in Cannes learned that while reboots can mean big business for the right properties, the hunt for fresh factual entertainment formats is intensifying.
Moderated by C21 Media editor in chief David Jenkinson, the day’s first session, “State of the Formats Nation,” unveiled findings from the UK trade’s annual formats report, with a panel discussion following. Among the chief findings in the report: reboots and retro formats are staking out more space on schedules worldwide, as are properties with celebrities as executive producers.
Also increasing their influence in the formats biz are ad agencies and their content production divisions, with Havas, Dentsu Aegis’ Story Lab, and GroupM’s Motion Content Group ramping up their activity in the space. But they are facing competition from major U.S. studios such as Lionsgate, Warner Bros., and NBCUniversal, which are also stepping up their formats businesses.
Geographically, Belgium is regaining a reputation as a hotspot, while China is regaining a reputation for IP theft in some quarters, perhaps a result of the tougher limitations placed on foreign formats there.
In the panel session following Jenkinson’s presentation of the report findings, Sarah Edwards, Sony Pictures Television UK creative director of global unscripted formats, said that while soft formats are still in vogue in the UK, there’s renewed attention for factual entertainment formats that can translate topics of global cultural interest (such as helicopter parenting) into a format.
Meanwhile, Gil Formats CEO Assaf Gil claimed that the “big hope for unscripted is in digital platforms,” pointing to risk aversion from broadcasters as a major issue for global format creators. Markus Sterky, formats acquisition executive at Sweden’s SVT, said that with SVT being in the midst of its own digital transformation, his main competition now lies with the SVOD platforms and not broadcasters. And with major SVOD players having the ability to launch a format globally practically instantly, that comes with the caveat of global rights retention, something that will shape the business models for format development and production as time progresses.
Later in the day, delegates were treated with a look at “fresh” formats in the game show and entertainment space, courtesy of television consultancy The Wit. According to the Geneva-based company, subgenres on the rise in the space include quiz shows, celebrity-fronted formats and physical competition series, while the race for dating and cooking formats is slowing down.
Among the new formats featured in the session were two from UK-based Youngest Media – The Search (pictured), which puts the word search game into an interactive, 3D environment; and Hardball, which recently debuted on the BBC. ITV’s Guess the Star, which UK critics have likended to “Stars in their Eyes in reverse,” adds the twist of keeping the identities of the lip syncing celebs secret, and having teams guess who is behind the performance.
MIPFormats continues tomorrow (April 8).