K7 Media’s International Research Manager Danny Kershaw offers his thoughts on how smaller territories can achieve success in the international formats market.
In October this year I was invited to speak to delegates at the Association of Independent Television Producers (APIT) conference in Lisbon, Portugal, on the subject of formats from smaller markets – which Portugal certainly is – that have travelled with success.
The brief was a compelling one, as we often consume shows with little knowledge, or a passing acknowledgement, of where they originated. My memory, aided by a sweep of our programme databases, suggested that the majority of well-travelled formats do tend to originate in a limited number of territories.
This imbalance is obviously felt acutely by producers in smaller markets, with an implied assumption that these territories are at an inherent disadvantage when it comes to creating original, successful content – something which I attempt to address in this presentation.
The powerhouse nations of content creation; the US, UK, Netherlands and more recently Israel, haven’t got access to any hidden secrets of making successful shows, they just have more money, time, and people to add to the task.
So how to level the playing field, so smaller countries – and those with little history of exporting formats – can keep up with the big guns? I would say, don’t even try!
It’s clear that in many smaller territories an original domestic market has been allowed to atrophy, while schedules are awash with adaptations of the usual suspects of The Voice, Got Talent and Dancing with the Stars. If creativity is fostered for the home market, formats will be developed which will perform well domestically, and in turn will attract the interest of international distributors.
Central to a drive to encourage more original content in smaller markets is the idea that nobody has a monopoly on good ideas, but it certainly helps if there are more of them going around; India’s Zee Entertainment launched a format ideas hub at MIPCOM this year, and in Ireland RTÉ’S Format Farm has seen a number of new ideas taken to market.
Another element to consider is what should we consider success to be? Not every format can be, or should be, that fabled creature; The Next Big Thing. Instead of tilting at that windmill, producers might look to create shows of a more modest scale, which contain at their heart a universal theme, with food, family, or romance three examples from many.
Click this link to watch my presentation to APIT in full, to see these thoughts expanded upon, with some key examples of formats which have travelled with success.