×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Mipcom: Unscripted Need Strong Formats Over Familiar Faces to Sell Overseas

Cast your eye across many of the unscripted formats on offer to international buyers at Mipcom and one thing stands out — there are a lot of celebrity-driven titles out there.

Some of the most high-profile international shows coming to market in October are Keshet Intl.’s “Showdown — Aviv/Eyal,” ITV Studios’ “I’ll Get This” and BBC Studios’ “Dancing With the Stars Junior.” All are dependent on talent to attract audiences.

That’s because broadcasters “need talent power” to stand out in a global marketplace that has become so crowded and competitive, says Keshet Intl.’s COO and president of distribution Keren Shahar.

Celebrities are particularly important for fronting unscripted formats in the U.S. and the U.K., she says, whereas some territories including India or Germany are happier to take risks on formats that aren’t talent-driven.
Not all unscripted formats have to be talent-led to succeed though, says Shahar. “A very strong hook in the mechanism of a show will give you the edge,” she says, citing Keshet’s interactive singing format “Rising Star,” which admittedly has celebrity judges.

Her point is backed up by BBC Studios creative director of formats Sumi Connock, who says there has been a rise in big names being attached to unscripted shows, notably in the U.S.

“But we’ve also seen shows with talent flop,” Connock says. “So for me, the format is still king. You could have the biggest talent in the world, but if the format doesn’t hold up, the audience will smell a rat.”

Connock cites two of the biggest format sellers in BBC Studios’ catalog — “Dancing With the Stars” and “The Great Bake Off” — as proof it takes more than big names to nab an audience. “One is talent driven, the other is totally about amateurs,” she points out.

Hiring well-known talent does, of course, allow broadcasters to hedge against some of the risks involved in launching a show.

Shahar says the “Showdown” music format delivered strong audiences to Keshet 12 when it aired over the summer thanks to the wide and very different fan bases of its two celebrity leads.

The series saw Israeli performers Aviv Geffen and Eyal Golan battle to discover singing talent. Both celebrities are outspoken, have a history of clashing in the media, and are also on the opposite sides of the spectrum musically (think Mediterranean melodies vs. Israeli rock), as well as culturally and politically.

Shahar says the format could be rolled out to other territories, using contrasting talents who have clashed before. She cites Kanye West and Taylor Swift as example hosts in the U.S. market.

In contrast, ITV Studios’ “I’ll Get This” is a much less confrontational affair. There’s no host, just five celebrities going out to a restaurant together where they play a series of fun parlor games — and the loser must pick up the tab for the whole group.

ITV Studios’ Global Creative Network managing director Mike Beale describes the format as a “celebrity-chat comedy-vehicle,” which attracts guests who wouldn’t necessarily appear on chat shows because they haven’t got a book to sell, or on panel shows because they are too confrontational.

He thinks the format, which debuts on BBC2 this fall, is also good way for broadcasters to book celebrities in a competitive marketplace, comparing it to shows where talent has to commit for months at a time. “In a crowded world of celebrity formats, ‘Can you make dinner on Thursday night?’, is a much easier conversation to have with the talent,” he says.

Beale says “I’ll Get This” features three types of talent: fresh comedians, reality stalwarts and “national treasures.” “You put people together who would probably never meet — and they seem to have fun,” Beale says.

Connock, meanwhile, says casting for “Dancing With the Stars” is like “putting together the best dinner party you can imagine,” and that only a few of the talents need to be very widely known to help pull in viewers. It’s all about the mix of celebrities, she says. “You may not know all the guests, but there is something about the group and in the end it’s the ones you didn’t know or weren’t sure about that you get closest to.”

More TV

  • Michael Strahan

    Michael Strahan, Endemol Shine North America to Develop U.S. Version of 'Money Drop'

    Endemol Shine North America is teaming up with Michael Strahan’s SMAC Entertainment to develop a U.S. version of the game show “The Money Drop.” Originally launched in 2010 as “The Million Pound Drop Live” by Endemol UK’s Remarkable Television for Channel 4, the format has now been produced locally by Endemol Shine Group in 54 [...]

  • BBC Buys Australian Psychological Thriller Series

    BBC Buys Australian Psychological Thriller Series ‘Safe Harbour'

    The BBC has bolstered its international drama lineup, acquiring Australian limited series “Safe Harbour,” and inking deals for new seasons of shows from Canada, France, and Iceland. The shows will all run on the U.K. pubcaster’s BBC Four channel. “Safe Harbour” is a psychological thriller that played on pubcaster SBS in Australia. It follows a [...]

  • It's Time For Another 'Punisher' Video

    It's Time For Another 'Punisher' Video Game

    Last year saw the release of the most recent iteration of a Spidey game, “Marvel’s Spider-Man,” developed by Insomniac Games. “Marvel’s Spider-Man” smashed all kinds of records. It dethroned “God of War” as the fastest-selling Sony-exclusive of all time and it achieved launch month sales 37% higher than the launch month sales of every previous [...]

  • Endeavor Content Taps Tim Robinson as

    Endeavor Content Taps Tim Robinson as Chief Operating Officer

    Endeavor Content has named Tim Robinson as its chief operating officer, a newly created role. As COO, he will helm Endeavor Content’s overall operations, including business affairs, finance, human resources and corporate development. He will also play a “key role” in the acceleration of the its growth strategy both at home and abroad, according to [...]

  • Göteborg TV Drama Vision Expects 60

    TV Drama Vision Set to Take Pulse of Nordic Commissioners’ Wish List

    More than 360 international delegates are expected at Göteborg’s 13th Nordic TV Drama Vision (Jan. 30-31) described by head of industry Cia Edström as a ‘boutique event’, where top Nordic and international drama professionals gather each year to gauge the state of the Nordic market and hot content. For the first time, to comply with the [...]

  • Fate of 'Simpsons' Up in Air

    What Will Happen to 'The Simpsons’ as Disney Takes Over Fox?

    When “The Simpsons” ends its 30th and current season this spring, it will have racked up 663 original episodes — having a season ago passed “Gunsmoke” (635) as the longest-running scripted program in television history. But with the Walt Disney Co.’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox pending, one of TV’s least likely institutions could prove more [...]

  • Bret Baier

    Fox News Anchor Bret Baier in Montana Car Crash

    Fox News Channel anchor Bret Baier and his family are safe after being involved in what the news host described as a major car accident while traveling to an airport after taking a ski trip to Montana. “After a weekend of skiing with my wife and two boys in Montana, driving to the airport Monday morning on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content