Endemol Shine China, Hunan TV Partner on Original Formats

The two companies will look to move on from adapting formats and create new, unscripted content for domestic and international markets alike

Endemol Shine China, Hunan TV Partner
Endemol Shine China

Announced on the eve of Mipcom, Endemol Shine China and one of China’s most-watched broadcasters, Hunan TV, have agreed to partner on the creation of new original formats for local and international markets.

The plan is to create content appropriate for Chinese linear TV, while leaving the door open for future international distribution. The two companies are planning on creating and producing unscripted content, and ten new format ideas have already been presented to HunanTV by Endemol Shine China. The goal is to narrow down that list and have China’s next primetime hit ready to broadcast in early 2019.

“We have worked very closely with Hunan TV over the years, delivering Chinese adaptations of global hit formats,” said William Tan, managing director of Endemol Shine China in a press release. He went on: “I am very pleased that we are now embarking on this exciting co-development adventure together, building on the opportunities presented by the vibrant Chinese content creation market, and in line with the Chinese government’s call for further content innovation and content export. Long-term strategic partnerships will continue to be key for us in China and we look forward to developing further collaboration opportunities in order to deliver exciting and novel content for the local and international markets.”

Hunan plays host to many of China’s most popular international format shows such as “Strictly Come Dancing,” “1 VS 100,” “Take Me Out” and others. But, as international broadcast companies push towards original content production, Hunan doesn’t want to be left behind.

“Format co-development has been a buzzword in China for years. But this is not about simply taking something from distributors’ catalogues. What Hunan TV is really after is co-developing original content from scratch with our partners in China,” said Hunan head of formats and international business Lester Hu said in a press release.

He added: “We have crafted a unique workflow that integrates international practices with our internal creative system, based on a regular two-way exchange of ideas. By combing our strong in-house production unit with our unique pilot system, our goal is to roll out original formats to the world after these are tested in the local Chinese market.”

To that end, the broadcaster launched Biu Project, a monthly internal pitching competition between more than 20 in-house production teams and studios. The channel also launched China’s first-ever pilot production system for prospecting possible series for domestic and international markets. Based on the results of those pilots, Hunan may then commission a full series, usually falling into the international standard of ten-to-twelve episodes.

For Endemol Shine the move is only the latest in a push towards increasing its footprint in China. Already this year, the company has announced a number of content and brand licensing deals with local partners such as streaming giant Youku. They are responsible for the Chinese adaptation of the global hit “Humans,” and have an agreement to co-develop and distribute one of China’s most popular reality shows, “Puzzle Masters.”

Endemol Shine Group CEO of international operations Nicola Bamford said in a statement: “China is a hugely exciting market with incredible creative potential and we are very pleased to be collaborating with important local players such as Hunan TV to develop China’s next big hit format with the potential to reach global audiences through Endemol Shine Group’s international distribution network.”