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The Content Hub: Talent shows and drama series drive the global format business

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MUMBAI: “Format business is a major industry.  Today, the production value of format business is well over 20 billion euros,” said The Format People CCO & partner Justin Scroggie during his keynote at ‘The Content Hub’ organised by indiantelevision.com.



It is unquestionable that television formats have indeed become essential components in the international television market. Largely licensed by television networks, TV formats describe the overall concept of a show and its premises. Investors around the world are now looking at television as an attractive business.



 “Over the past nine years, American Idol has generated US $8 billion on its own,” he said.



Scroggie also discussed about the major global trends and television formats in the international landscape as part of his keynote presentation. According to him, the original drivers for the format business are game shows. “Game shows are flexible, relatively short, scalable in terms of cost and renewable. They are repeatable and above all, they are adaptable in various cultures,” he opined while highlighting that despite all this, game shows are struggling these days.



So why is this happening? “Everybody is looking for the next big game show breakout and nobody is finding it,”Scroggie explained.  Citing the example of the popular game show Who wants to be a Millionaire, Scroggie said that big money prizes are not delivering the kind of drama as the audience is too familiar with it now.



In addition, with the advent of reality and talent programmes, game shows are not delivering the same level of drama, strong characters and emotional connect which the audiences are expecting. According to Scroggie, talent and reality shows are driving the international format business.



“Got Talent entered the Guinness book of world record as the world’s most successful reality television format. It has been adapted in 63 countries,” he informed. There are many successful talent show formats like ‘Strictly Come Dancing’ and ‘Masterchef’ that have been adapted globally.  “However trends don’t happen in every country at the same time,”Scroggie added. While Canada does not have many talent shows, China currently has more than 90 talent shows on air.  



At this point, Scroggie also said that talent shows are also getting saturated.  “Having learnt the grammar of making international talent programmes, more and more countries are making their own versions so that they don’t need to buy international formats,” he explained.  



Scroggie believes that the fastest growing area of format business is scripted formats which include drama series that can be adapted and remade in other countries. Homeland, for example, one of the highly successfully television shows in the US, is actually an Israeli format.

 

“The best dramas are those that travel and have something about them. They can be adapted into the story and emotions of any country,” he said.



Scroggie also spoke about telenovelas, such as ‘Everest’ on Star Plus that drive scripted formats. He believes that today we can find quality drama content written by top talent starring A-listers.  Serialised dramas like family, crime and politics also work.



In the last part of his keynote, Scroggie explained how the barriers between viewers and shows are breaking down. “Television is a passive medium and the audience wants to interact with the people they see on screens,” he added.  Scoggie feels that web series is picking up and is easy to watch.  While social experiments are popular, they are also risky as they involve real people in a live and reality drama.



Scroggie, whose organisation deals in format creation, consultancy on formats, branding and in-house training also delved on why UK is a leader in format sales.



“UK broadcasters are only allowed to keep 15 per cent of the rights on the show. The creators of the shows retain 85 per cent. This has created a huge incentive for producers to sell their formats to broadcasters,” he stated.   



While UK, US, Netherlands, Israel and Brazil are doing well in the format business, Scroggie feels that Turkey and China are potential countries to also look out for in the future.



 “With your help, let’s add India to the list,” he concluded.

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