NATPE 2018: A new business model for Asia, chaired by Michel Rodrigue

International Co-Development:

A New Business Model for generating revenue from China and other major Asian markets

This panel chaired by TFP CEO Michel Rodrigue will discuss a new business model developed by European production companies and how it is being used to create and produce successful Chinese native formats which ultimately can be exported.

By delving into the subjects of co-development, production and distribution, panelists will share their expertise and tips on applying this new business model. Examples of formats coming out of Asia being developed jointly between an Asian and a foreign production company will be shown during the discussion as our experts will unveil which format genres from Asia are most likely to be picked up by a distributor and are most likely to travel well.

Panellists confirmed so far include Michael Schmidt, Chief Creative Officer Red Arrow, and George Levendis, Head of International SYCO.

Session Time: Thursday January 18th at 10:45:00 am – 11:30:00 am

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Michel, Justin, Sylvia and our 20+ consultants across the world wish you a happy and prosperous 2018!

tfp top team 2017


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Korean Producers Look West

Why Korean producers are striking up content partnerships with the West

As we have seen repeatedly over the last couple of years, the line between entertainment and politics can be a blurry one.

Take, for example, the dilemma that has recently faced South Korean content producers. In July of 2016, dialed-up bellicose rhetoric spurred on by Washington and Pyongyang prompted neighboring South Korea to host a U.S. anti-ballistic missile system that could safeguard against a potential North Korean military attack.

The U.S. contends the positioning of its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) in South Korea’s Seongju county is meant solely to protect American and South Korean forces from Kim Jong-un’s escalating threats. The Chinese government, however, has perceived the increased U.S. militarization of the peninsula as a threat as well.

In what appeared to be a reprisal, China’s broadcast regulator SARFT announced a ban in the summer of 2016 of nearly all forms of South Korean entertainment content from entering into the country.

“I personally know that over a dozen talent agencies, distribution companies and production companies shut down because their Chinese partners were unable to honor their contracts,” says Miles Ki Young Choi, CEO of Seoul-based prodco Bethel Global Media Contents, one of the fastest-growing media companies in Korea.

South Korean talent agencies like S.M. Entertainment and YG Entertainment — some of the largest entertainment companies in the country — have endured the brunt of the economic damage spurred by the move. S.M.’s stock values have tumbled since July 2016, sinking 18%, or US$150 million, while YG has plummeted 32% in the same period, a loss in market value of $230 million.

Prior to the 2016 ban, China operated as the biggest export market for South Korean television programming and musical acts. But by blocking access to Korean Wave content — known as hallyu — and rescinding its investments in joint Chinese-Korean television projects, Beijing has effectively put the brakes on China’s market for hallyu, which some estimates say weighs in at just under $1 billion.

In response, a growing number of Korean players have steadily sounded a clarion call for multinational partners, with international coproducers like Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon, Endemol Shine Group and ITV stepping up to the plate.

Amanda Groom, managing director of The Bridge, has been working with South Korean broadcasters and the Korean government for more than a decade. Since launching The Bridge nearly four years ago, Groom has assisted American and British companies in navigating the diversity and fragmentation within Asian markets, while also ensuring that collaborators share their expertise and benefit from what is essentially a cultural exchange.

The London-headquartered indie acts as an incubator and facilitator for coproduction and format creation opportunities across television and film between pan-Asian nations and the English-speaking production community. The company, with satellite offices in Seoul and Bangkok, looks to secure production funding from multiple sources, including governments, sponsorship and private investors.

The Korean government in particular views hallyu as a form of soft power and actively invests seed money into local agencies, with the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning allocating more than US$4 million in grants annually. Meanwhile, the Korea Creative Content Agency (KOCCA) provides a smaller fund for the research and development of new formats for Korea and internationally.

“There are a number of different creative bodies that stem from several of the big cultural departments or ministries in government and they invest in programming,” says Groom, the former MD of Channel Health for Sky Network. “Of course, they won’t put money into an American or English producer’s pocket, but they will invest that money in a Korean coproduction partner.

“Korea is positioned between the two big superpowers of Japan and China, so it has gone to great lengths to ensure that its culture isn’t subsumed by them,” she adds.

By some estimates, producing a factual entertainment format in the Korean peninsula can cost anywhere between US$100,000 to $300,000, depending on the celebrities attached to the project, while docuseries run in the range of $50,000 to $200,000 per episode. Prices in Mainland China for Korean Wave projects, however, have been known to start at $10,000 and peak well over the $1 million mark per episode, according to Choi.

The push into foreign copros has begun to pay dividends for Korean content makers, with American and British nets recently adapting unscripted Korean formats for primetime.

Leading the push into the U.S. market is South Korea’s largest producer CJ E&M, who sold the remake rights — via global distributor Small World International Television Formats — to the travelogue Grandpas Over Flowers to NBC in late 2014. The U.S. adaptation premiered in August of 2016 as Better Late Than Never, starring William Shatner, to an audience of 7.35 million. It is currently in production for an eight-episode sophomore season.

CJ E&M also entered into a co-development deal with ITV Studios in April to create a new entertainment format for global exploitation. ITV Studios Global Entertainment will manage the distribution of that series across all regions outside of Asia.

“The main factor driving the popularity of Korean formats is creativity. The UK and U.S. markets are so saturated that it’s very difficult to stand out, so Western broadcasters are increasingly open to the East because we have a lot of fresh programs that can cut through the clutter,” notes Spencer Thomas, senior producer of global content development at CJ E&M.

“Koreans are interested in co-developing with the Western world and are learning how to be even more creative and to structure their programs in order for them to become more formattable in the rest of the world,” adds Michel Rodrigue, CEO of The Format People, a worldwide TV format consultancy helping to train Korean broadcasters and producers in the development and sale of their formats through masterclasses funded by KOCCA.

Further partnerships with Western-based companies are also helping Koreans break through. Bunim/Murray Productions and Korean mediaco Signal Entertainment Group penned a joint development deal this past March that will see the companies create new television projects and formats.

Meanwhile, in April, global producer-distributor Endemol Shine Group secured an international co-development deal with South Korean broadcaster JTBC to create, produce and distribute formats to the international marketplace. The agreement positions Endemol Shine Group to deliver a new pipeline of Korean originated content to the worldwide market while enabling the Seoul-based broadcaster to expand its creative and commercial footprint in Asia and beyond.

Also, YouTube Red has collaborated with YG Entertainment for reality series Run, BigBang Scout!, which traces a popular K-Pop group on a camping trip; while Bethel Global Media Contents initiated the Korean-British culinary series John Torode’s Korean Food Tour for UKTV’s Good Food Channel through government grants.

Korean content makers are beginning to entrench themselves onto U.S. soil even further with the summer roll out of SVOD service Kocowa. Launched by KCP Global — a joint venture between Korean broadcasters KBS, MBC and SBS — the platform showcases Korean programs, including K-pop series and variety shows, specifically for the American audience.

And though Western media juggernauts like Amazon Prime, Netflix, A+E Networks and Discovery Communications are actively seeking formats and coproduction partnerships with major Korean broadcasters, Bethel Global Media Contents’ Choi believes “critical reception and ratings will determine how Western broadcasters will approach Korean formats.”

“The world’s focus, particularly the British focus, is on China and we are missing many low hanging fruit that is the whole of the rest of Asia,” concludes The Bridge’s Groom. “South Korea is just one example.”

This story originally appeared in Realscreen’s September/October 2017 issue.

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Can Remote Production Inspire New Formats?


Remote production makes sense for some types of TV and it could usher in a new wave of innovative formats, writes award-winning multi-camera director and TFP consultant Tony Gregory.

tonyWhether through drums, smoke signals or telegraph, the ability to instruct remote transactions has played its part in both the survival and the overthrow of countless dynasties, kingdoms and empires.

So-called remote production is really part of the continuum of human progress, not some impending new dawn.  Indeed, the first TV outside broadcast took place in 1937 as the BBC covered the George VI’s coronation at Westminster Abbey; the first case of remote video production is in fact 80 years old.

The term remote production is snappy, but unhelpfully vague. The current buzz is better articulated as the geographic separation of complex interconnected production processes.

Working remotely has been growing for years – we haven’t needed to bike or fly VHSs and DVDs of edits for approval for many years, and much pre-production happens between highly mobile laptop junkies.

So remote production is about capturing and packaging content from locations without a travelling circus of big trucks, single-discipline techs, and the creation of a studio complex on a farm, beach or mountain.

The thinking goes that a small team, or even a single operator, sets up cameras and other equipment – and all the ‘packaging’ processes of vision-mixing, graphics, audio mixing, happens in some far away, purpose built centre.  There could even be venues with permanent camera and sound equipment – but no on-site control room.

There’s certainly an economic case.  Why would you pay an EVS operator for a day’s work, two travel days, and two overnights, just to do slo-mo clips for a 90 minute football match at the other end of a country? What if that person could in fact do three or four games in a single shift from a centralised control centre?

Much development in this area has happened around sport, especially the Olympics. Among many examples, Swedish and Canadian broadcasters during the 2012 games had control rooms back home, driving cameras and studio production in London’s Olympic Village.  In 2016, the BBC logged raw media, in real-time, in Salford in the UK to assist productions teams in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Mining and air traffic control

Key drivers are cost and quality. If connectivity costs are lower than the cost of taking a production team – then keep the team at home!  Often production processes are better done back at base, where protocols and systems are already in place, meaning better quality content.

Around the world are control rooms monitoring our streets, airports, stations and shops. The centralised CCTV control room of London’s Met Police is remarkably similar to the production control of TV’s Big Brother – and TV has much to learn from other industries.

In Australia high labour costs and the remoteness of mining works have catalysed innovation. A large operations centre in Perth controls mines, driverless trucks, maintenance, ports and rail infrastructure 1500km away. Productivity, safety record and quality of life have all improved.

Currently under construction is a new air traffic control tower at London’s City airport. It will contain HD cameras, but no people. When complete, all the aircraft movements will be monitored and controlled by staff 130km away.

Controllers will get the same view that they would have through windows – but overlaid will be augmented reality displays of data and plane call-signs –they won’t have to take their gaze to other screens.  Two small Swedish airfields already use the system.  London City will use three independent fibres for the data links to the control centre in Swanwick, which also handles the air traffic movements over most of the UK.

The arguments in the TV/video industry around reliability and connectivity for remote production are lazy.

The mining and aviation industries have far more at stake from a failure than some OTT live broadcast from a comedy club in a regional city. If those industries can make remote operations successful, then we can too.

Yes, bandwidth and uptime are considerations, but these are improving very quickly. Indeed, far from being a barrier to remote production, internet connectivity and speed will be the very thing that drives demand. South Korea has the best connectivity in the world and the highest penetration of smart phones. Everyone on subway trains in Seoul is watching video, via the über-fast and ubiquitous Wi-Fi.

As 5G hits the world’s major population centres in the next few years we’ll enjoy unprecedented download speeds on mobile phones. And there will be an exponential increase in demand for video content.  Those who can slash the production cost of quality content to fill this vacuum will lead the revolution and remote production will be a critical tool.

The use-case test for remote production is this: if the production team are creating the content in front of the camera, and need to direct the action, as well as run the control room, it doesn’t help. Production needs to be proximitous to the action.

But for many scenarios, the team producing the ‘capture’ have no relationship with the ‘performers’ in front of the camera; for example, sport, many reality formats, public-venue events such music, comedy, ceremonials, theatre. Remote production will become a key way of working.

Our biggest problems are people and productivity. Too many TV programme makers are stuck in archaic ways of working, and there will have to be multi-discipline working.  People want our content to learn, laugh, and escape. Remote production will be a vital tool for doing that with more efficiency, relevancy, and agility. We’ll be capturing content from people and places that previously we couldn’t have covered.

There’ll be new ideas, too.  Without non-linear editing, and miniaturisation of camera chips we wouldn’t have had many reality TV formats. Remote production will leverage a new generation of ideas.

It’s going to be an adventure. But for those not responsive to change, remote production will yet have a hand in the overthrow of some old-style media tech dynasties, kingdoms and empires.


This article appeared on the IBC 365 website in November 2017, and is shared here with the permission of the author. 


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Chef in Your Ear launched on NTV Mongolia





Ulaanbaatar November 2107: The latest (8th!) adaptation of our hit culinary format “Chef in your Ear” launched in primetime on Mongolian network NTV this Sunday 26th November,

Hosted by director and screenwriter A.Miyegombo, the series features a mix of ordinary people and celebrities, as well as top Mongolian chefs including G.Tengis, Sh.Erdenekhuu, P.Ganbat, B.Ariunbileg, G.Temulun and G.Mungundolgio.

The amateur cooks with zero culinary skills compete in cooking a restaurant-quality dish in 1 hour under the guide of the chef in their ear. Viewers will be able to make the dishes at home after watching the show.



“Chef in Your Ear” was originally made for the Food Network in Canada in 2015, and has since been adapted in French-speaking Canada, Belgium, Holland, France, Germany, South Korea … and now Mongolia.

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“Brilliant Chinese – Path to Glory”ranked #1 across China


“Brilliant Chinese – Path to Glory”ranked #1 across China

LU Wei, vice-president of Canxing/Star China announced the great ratings of its new original talent show “Brilliant Chinese-Path to Glory”.

For the past two weeks, over 120 Million people have watched episodes 5 and 6 of the series, earning a 4.2% market share and this week officially ranked #1 across China.

Brilliant-Chinese-contestants-e1498229711976The show airs in primetime on CCTV-1 Saturday evenings at 8:00 pm CST. On its way to be the next major global Format hit, “Brilliant Chinese – Path To Glory”, is the first Chinese format ready for international distribution with co-development partner Syco, following the announcement of the collaboration in December 2016.

“Brilliant Chinese-Path to Glory takes the talent Format to a new level. Canxing-Star China is thrilled that that our unique variety show has pushed the boundaries showcasing talent from all walks of life. Our Chinese audience can’t wait to choose the winner and we look forward to presenting the format to the rest of the world,” said Iris Xia, Deputy General Manager of Star China International Media Limited.

The Format for “Brilliant Chinese-Path to Glory” was developed with Syco Entertainment and Canxing/Star China, as part of a 3-year development deal signed with Syco with a primary goal to co-develop large scale global entertainment formats with appeal for the Chinese-speaking world; and the potential for international distribution.


“We are delighted with the show, more than 120 million viewers in the last two weeks cannot be wrong. Working with our friends in China has been a joy and we look forward to even greater success moving forward” said Nigel Hall, Global head of television Syco Entertainment.

“Brilliant Chinese – Path To Glory” takes ordinary members of the public and turns them into television stars. From the fishmonger to the housewife, viewers have been captivated – watching stars being created each week. Four judges representing four categories – Singing, Dance, Variety and Kids – work with their favourites to help members of the public achieve their full potential as artists. The magic happens when all four judges fall in love with an act and the path to glory is opened to the next round. Judges: The four category judges, each specializing in their area of expertise, are: well-known Chinese television personality, Sa Beining as the head judge. He has been a host on CCTV and involved with many television programs and specializes in the Variety category. Overseeing the Kids’ category is Zhu Dan — a well-known Chinese actress and host, appearing on leading provincial satellite channels. The Singing category will be judged by Cai Guoqing, a prestigious Chinese singer who holds the record for the most performances on CCTV1’s Spring Festival Gala. The Dance category is being judged by Huang Doudou, a Chinese professional dancer and choreographer, who won numerous domestic and International dancing competition awards.…

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Justin tackles social experiments at CPH Festival



When you turn on your television there’s a good chance you will run into a new ‘social experiment’. Experiments are in high demand among broadcasters around the world and it seems there’s no limit in regard to what you can brand as an ‘experiment’ these days.

But what is a ‘TV experiment’ – and what is less an experiment and more just reality pressure? Which are the hottest examples of the genre at the moment? Why are they so attractive to buyers and viewers? And why do some of them fail?

In this keynote address, Format Doctor Justin Scroggie took the audience on a journey through some of the most – and a few of the least – successful ‘experiments’ on television recently. In his trademark forensic style, Justin set out to define what a real experiment is, in order to show what works and what doesn’t, and therefore revealed how creators and broadcasters can renew the genre.

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Strong Start for “Chef In Je Oor” on VIER


The premiere of “Chef In Je Oor”, the Flemish adaptation of our hit format “Chef In Your Ear”, had a strong start Monday on VIER,  earning a 17,4% share in 18-44 age-group.  That is the best rated show of the evening on VIER in numbers and share.

20160305 Mechelen - Belgium opnames Chef in je Oor Gert Verhulst

Presented by Belgian cultural icon Gert Verhulst, and filmed on location in the historic Vleeshalle (the former meat market) in Mechelen “Chef In Je Oor” is stripped 4 days a week across 16 episodes for Season 1.

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