Linfield Ng, Director, Format Sales Liaison for NBCUniversal, International Television Production, speaks exclusively to TV ASIA Plus about the Indonesian deal.

Q: Which territories in Asia have localised Top Chef and what do you think is the selling point of this format?

L: It’s only in Indonesia so far, we have another coming soon, but it’s in its final stage of being signed.

Top Chef’s selling points:

  • Emmy award-winning culinary competition show
  • 11 seasons in the U.S., No. 1 cable programme in its time period among adults 18-49
  • Proven success story in France, Romania, Canada, Spain, Middle East, Finland, etc.
  • Popularity of the series resulted in four spin-off series on Bravo: Top Chef Masters, Top Chef Just Desserts, Life After Top Chef, Last Chance Kitchen
  • Top Chef brand opens a world of merchandising opportunities: cook books, kitchen ware, cooking courses, etc
  • Unlike other shows, our contestants are chefs and people in the food industry, not amateurs. They know their food and are put under extreme pressure to deliver the best dish across our many challenges!

Q: Budgets are usually a concern for formats. How do you work with a variety of budgets?

L:  We usually show our potential clients the U.S. versions of our hit formats but the costs of those productions are usually higher than the budgets we see in Asia, owing to a lot of “soft costs” paid out to talent most notably. In Asia, some formats can be made for half the budget of U.S. versions. What we’re looking for are broadcasters who are committed (within their budgets) to maintaining a similar look and feel to the original versions of the formats, then there is the potential to entering into discussions with them.

We are also committed at our end to do quality checks and that is where our consultancy team comes in. As part of our agreements, we ask for a first pass on the shows that are produced to enforce standards on the look of the show. Still there is always a degree of flexibility we allow, taking into account localisation needs of each territory.

Q: Top Chef Indonesia: How did that deal come about? Were there any considerations that had to be made for the Indonesian market?

L:  We have a great relationship with SCTV and Harsiwi Achmad, SCTV’s Director of Programming and Production was on the same page with us on bringing one of the best culinary reality shows to Indonesia. She recognised the potential of the show and how it showcases and discovers the incredible and cream of the crop culinary talent in Indonesia.