Building ‘Block’ for success

Apartment makeover skein ready to travel

SYDNEY — Oz reality hit “The Block” is set to rock around the world, with a slew of format deals signed or in advanced negotiations.

“The Block” features four couples who are given a budget to renovate four run-down apartments in 12 weeks, watched 24/7 by cameras. The apartments are auctioned, and each couple keeps any profits from the sale. The couple whose apartment fetches the highest price wins $65,000 in cash.

In August, the Nine Network licensed the format to FremantleMedia/Fox in the U.S. and to RDF Media/ITV in the U.K. The show was a ratings sensation for Nine, the finale hooking 4.4 million viewers and a 53 share.

The SBS group has bought the Oz production and an option to produce local versions in Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Belgium and the Netherlands.

Southern Star Sales chief exec Cathy Payne tells Variety SBS has agreed to pay “very competitive terms” and notes noting the fee reps a percentage of the budget. Option commits SBS to produce a minimum of 12 one-hours.

CanWest’s Global TV has collared an option for a Canadian version as well as the rights to simulcast the U.S. show. Africa’s paybox M-Net has nabbed an option and the Oz series.

Payne says the broadcasters were impressed by several factors: the concept, created by Aussies David Barbour and Julian Cress; the ratings Down Under; its appeal to young and older demos; and the even gender split.

She’s fielding numerous offers from other territories, which she aims to close at the Mipcom market this week. (mip is oct 8 to 14)

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