MIPFormats: “The future of formats is bright, it’s very bright!” Lars Beckung, KANAL 5, Sweden

“The Formats Future Market: A global perspective on the booming formats community,” was held on 30
March, 2012, at MIPFormats. Below are some highlights of that discussion.

David Jenkinson, Editor-in-Chief & Managing Director of C21 Media, opened the session by summarising the findings of the latest C21 Formats Report, based on two months of extensive analysis into trends in the international formats business. This included a mass survey sent to thousands of C21 readers earlier this year. While the survey received a modest 172 respondents, Jenkinson asserts that the survey, together with additional research, was representative allowed the team to “get some tangible results.” Following the announcement of the survey findings was the panel discussion.

Lars Beckung, Programme Director of Kanal 5, Sweden, introduced the idea of the “Second Screen”:  a concept brought to prominence by a 2011 Nielsen survey that suggested that “roughly 40 percent of tablet and smartphone owners in the US used their devices daily while watching TV” (Nielsen Wire). Beckung questions whether producers can or should tap into the “second screen” when designing formats?

On creating “global brands,” Wayne Garvie, Managing Director, International Production at All3Media, cited the example of BBC’s Top Gear as a format that was not a ratings frontrunner but nevertheless did well in the format sales arena; becoming a brand that not only travels, but one that can secure sponsors to fund the format.

Karoline Spodsberg, Managing Director of Banijay International, mentions how format genres have merged. She lamented that it becomes increasingly difficult to categorise some formats into specific genre “types.” She further suggests that producers are better off focusing their energies on defining the target audience rather than nailing that genre “type.”

On the subject of “branded entertainment,” where a format is devised to represent the attributes of a brand, CEO of RelativityREAL Tom Forman cautions against sacrificing an idea or concept for brand.  He is unsure that many conversations with brands will necessarily result in formats. The reality, as Forman mentions, is that many brands want a level of control (over content) and often disallow producers and broadcasters from further exploiting the formats at international markets. When that happens, the programme becomes less of a format that can be replicated, calling into question whether it can even be called a “format.” One success though, Forman claims, is Endemol’s Extreme
Makeover: Home Edition
; a format heavy with brand acknowledgements. Forman served as producer/ creator of the award-winning show, which ran a total of nine seasons.  

The Kardashians was cited as an example of “constructed reality,” where “you put unknown people in a show and they become a brand,” said Garvie. Like The Kardashians, Garvie asks broadcasters to hold on to the brand for as long as possible so as to further exploit the brand. For the now-famous family, many in the Kardashian clan have successfully created their own spinoffs – a testament to the power of the Kardashian “brand.”