The Becker group’s division is hitting the jackpot with gameshow production in Southeast Asia, drawing on and, indeed, recycling, formats that have proved popular Down Under.
Operating as the Australian office of Fremantle Intl., Becker has produced local versions of Fremantle’s gameshow formats since 1983 and sold U.S., British and Australian gameshows to Southeast Asia for the past 20 years.
1994 saw the start of an Asian production push with the launch of “The Pyramid Game” for Singapore pubcaster SBC, “The Newlywed Game” for Indonesia’s RCTI, plus “The Family Game” for sister station SCTV. 1994 also saw the start of “My Generation” for Australia’s Nine Network, the third season of which is now in production.
This year, the group has produced two series of gameshow “Chain Reaction” and is in preproduction for a 1996 delivery of “Every Second Counts” for RCTI, plus “Face the Music,” for SCTV.
“We find that gameshows are very popular (in Asia), but the market is becoming more Western and wants more programs,” Becker head of television Ian Hogg says. “Each country is different and that forms the challenge of doing business there.”
Nevertheless, Hogg maintains that tried and true gameshows formats are the most cost-effective means of production in Asia.
“Asian countries don’t pay the same license fees as us and Australian broadcasters don’t pay the same license fees as the U.S. so you need to come up with material that is less expensive,” he explains.
“We found we had a catalog of material that was international by definition and that we were able to revamp into a new program without 100% of the cost.”
Along these lines, the company is making an Indonesian version of vintage Jackie Gleason comedy “The Honeymooners,” for RCTI. Hogg notes that this will be the first time the group has contended with Indonesian writers and actors.
Arguably, the group’s most admired dramatic foray is “Banjo Patterson’s The Man From Snowy River” for Nine, which has been sold to 42 territories by global sales rep MTM in the U.S.
“We are taking a long-term view of Asia,” says Hogg, who believes that technological advances will bring more channels to the region and more opportunities.
“South Korea is a big market, a sophisticated market by Asian standards,” he says, adding the introduction of 22 feevee channels has created a bigger market for gameshows, infotainment and sitcoms.
Hogg has two dramas, two sitcoms and an adult gameshow in development and is not deterred by the present lukewarm interest in sitcoms Down Under.
“They tend to go in cycles, but a good project will always win and get produced,” Hogg says. “True, the networks are not seeking sitcoms as eagerly as drama.”
Becker’s Fremantle/All American Prods, representation also includes sales for the world’s most watched program, “Baywatch.” The group has sold the show to Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand.
Obviously, 1996 will be the group’s busiest year yet.
“It has been a reasoned growth,” Hogg says. “Our products, through distribution, have gotten stronger and our Asian production is at its strongest ever. We can provide more software; change will be very quick and companies like ours can capitalize on that.”