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The market for global TV formats, once dominated by the U.K., the U.S. and the Netherlands, is in a state of constant geographic flux.

Turkey and South Korea are now joining Israel and Japan on the list of major purveyors of TV series that can be easily adapted to local tastes.

The growth of global streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon has also upped the demand for shows with sturdy formats that can play widely around the world.

In early March, Amazon Prime Video launched its first unscripted original, “The Remix,” an Indian live music reality show, across 200 countries. The format was acquired from Turkey’s Global Agency.

The show, in which 10 teams pairing a DJ and a singer remix existing songs into new cover versions in the hopes of winning a big-money prize and the chance to cut an album, was produced with “probably one of the biggest budgets in India ever,” says Global Agency chief Izzet Pinto.
Pinto adds that formats over the past two years “have become a booming business.”

Elsewhere, Japan is now a big entertainment formats originator with such long-standing formats as “Shark Tank” (“Dragon’s Den” in the U.K.), and “American Ninja Warrior” among those currently on the airwaves.

South Korea has also emerged as a global formats hotbed. NBC’s “Better Late Than Never” is based on the country’s “Grandpas Over Flowers.” NBCUniversal Intl. has been selling Korean format “Hidden Singer,” which launched last year in Italy on Discovery’s Channel 9.

U.S. broadcasters are producing several other unscripted shows from around the world such as “The Final Four” from Israeli powerhouse Armoza Formats. Fox renewed the U.S. version, “The Four: Battle for Stardom,” for a second season in February,

In a further indication that Israeli formats are reaching new heights, Armoza partnered in January with Warner Bros.’ Shed Media to adapt its factual series “Back to Life,” which has also been sold to Germany, Italy and Poland.

International production giants including Endemol and Fremantle “are now looking to acquire local formats as much as make versions of their existing IP, as they acquire companies in countries like Israel and Argentina,” notes London-based analyst Tim Westcott of IHS Markit.

“The industry is on a permanent quest for content that can sustainably maintain the broadest audiences possible.”
Eurodata TV Worldwide Report

According to the latest Eurodata TV Worldwide report, which tracks 48 countries, almost half the roughly 9,000 new and recurring TV shows that aired in 2017 were sourced outside their home countries. And most of these were foreign ready-made formats.

“The industry is on a permanent quest for content that can sustainably maintain the broadest audiences possible and increasingly TV professionals are looking overseas,” the report said.

Eurodata analysis indicates that growing Middle Eastern audiences have an increasing interest in Asian formats, while Latin Americans are watching more unscripted shows from the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

With the market for unscripted content buoyant again, this year’s MIPFormat’s timely conference theme is Formats Industry Disrupted: Preparing for the Year 2020. Keynote speakers are Alex Mahon, CEO of the U.K.’s Channel 4, and Kate Phillips, controller of BBC Entertainment.

Turkey, which is the world’s second-largest exporter of TV dramas after the U.S., is still a minor player in the formats field. But it is gaining traction. Aside from landing the landmark Amazon deal with “Remix,” Global Agency’s “Shopping Queen” format has been playing for the past six years in France and Germany, which are Europe’s top TV markets. New Turkish sports reality shows format “Exathlon,” developed and sold by Turkey’s Acun Medya, is reaping stellar ratings in Brazil, Mexico and Romania.

“We have a baby in our hands, and it’s growing rapidly,” says Ahmet Ziyalar, chief operating officer of Turkish sales company Inter Medya, which branched out into formats from TV dramas and is launching a Turkish original called “Money Monster.”

“We still need one or two more years to make our mark in the international market. But it’s coming,” he says.