As commissioning budgets become increasingly constrained, content creators and studios are under pressure to rethink their approach to international formats in a rapidly changing industry.
Jan Salling, co-chairman of the Format Recognition and Protection Association (FRAPA) and head of BBC Studios Nordic, international production, and formats, emphasizes the need for innovation in business models and production methods. He notes that the traditional distribution model is no longer effective, as even streaming platforms now seek a return on their investments and adapt to the evolving market.
Despite these challenges, the unscripted space, which includes reality, game, and dating shows, continues to provide content for broadcasters and platforms looking to engage audiences and advertisers on a large scale. Kate Phillips, the BBC’s director of unscripted content, is optimistic about this year’s market, highlighting the renewed interest in unscripted formats following a recent writers’ strike settlement.
The success of shows like the Dutch format “The Traitors” has spurred innovation in adventure reality BBC shows. While some networks and platforms may seem to play it safe by returning to tried-and-tested formats, there is an ongoing need for fresh and innovative ideas to keep viewers engaged.
One example of this innovation is the unscripted show “Deal or No Deal Island,” commissioned by NBC, which combines elements of the game show with a “Survivor”-style reality competition. James Townley, Banijay’s chief content officer, development, points out that maintaining the freshness of these shows is essential, and a 2015 version of a format is distinct from its 2024 counterpart.
Mipcom 2023 features an array of unscripted shows, including “The Summit,” where contestants compete to reach the top of a mountain, and “Rush,” a travel reality show. Banijay is also showcasing “PopMaster,” a music quiz format that will debut at the event.
While game shows and reality series are popular, they are also challenging to perfect, often requiring innovation in their format and content to stand out in a competitive market. The rise of the smart quiz and niche shows reflects the evolving tastes of audiences seeking something more challenging.
Reality shows offer an interactive and cost-effective solution for broadcasters, making them attractive to audiences and advertisers alike. As such, networks and streaming platforms look for formats that offer value for money in a competitive landscape.
Fremantle International is unveiling new reality formats at Mipcom, reflecting the growing appetite for reality shows. Their releases include “The Lost Ones,” “Mama Mia: I Have a Dream,” and “The Piano,” a breakout hit for Channel 4 in the BBC UK. Feel-good reality shows that appeal to a wide range of generations have made a comeback.
The industry is recognizing that a successful format can originate from anywhere, with various countries having their moments of innovation and creativity in the unscripted space. The focus is on producing unique and distinctive formats that can stand out in the competitive marketplace, delivering fresh and exciting content to captivate audiences.