K7 Media

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East Meets West: A New Era in Formats?

Israel is the new Netherlands. Turkey is the new Israel. Korea is the new Turkey. Every market sees another contender for breakout success as a supplier of globally saleable content. Through it all, the US, UK and Netherlands have retained their positions as the top exporters (one, two and three) respectively, but is a new world order on the way, for formats in particular?

More formats [are] able to straddle the notoriously difficult East/West entertainment divide

Speaking on the theme of international collaboration at the Asia TV Formats forum in Singapore in December, K7’s Keri Lewis Brown highlighted numerous business models that were leading to more formats able to straddle the notoriously difficult East/West entertainment divide: among them cooking show Familiar Taste and physical gameshow Super Combat Teams from China, scripted reality Better Late than Never and reality experiment The Society Game from Korea.

In the case of China the collaborative development model has become something of a necessity, due to government regulations around the importing of foreign formats, but their hunger to build a more creative (and less imitative) TV industry is evident in the growing numbers of Chinese TV professionals coming to the UK to learn how British programme-makers and creators do it.

To date it has been mainly the big studio entertainment and talent-based shows that have been able to transcend cultural difference and migrate from West to East most easily; and the intense or comedic physical gameshows that have made their way back the other way.

2017 could see the start of a fascinating new era

But will increasing globalisation start to blur these cultural distinctions in TV as it has in so many other areas? With China now experimenting in fixed rig, food hybrids and scripted reality, and countries like India and Vietnam beginning to develop more of their own exportable ideas, 2017 could see the start of a fascinating new era, in which all sorts of unlikely experiments in cultural universality emerge in the quest to take on the traditionally dominant TV nations. UK & US watch your backs, you may be needing your own Trump-style protectionism soon…

Clare Thompson is an independent TV development consultant and non exec board director for K7 Media.

Clare Thompson