The second day of MIP Formats in Cannes saw TFP partners Michel Rodrigue and Justin Scroggie using the best and worst examples of pitching to reveal how to sell formats.

In a unique presentation, Justin and Michel played a ‘pitcher’ and a ‘buyer’ in a series of short sketches, during which the audience were able to see what they were actually thinking via ‘thought bubbles’ above their heads.  The sketches each revealed a lesson about pitching, which was then explored in more detail after the sketch by the Format People partners.

The session was very well attended and received, as this comment in an email I received from a young producer the following day:

“Can I just say on a personal, business withstanding, note that the presentation that you and Michel delivered was amazing in your do’s and don’ts of pitching, I’m a young producer representing a big company, this was my first MIP and your insight was, not only useful, but well delivered and made me laugh AT least 6 times.”


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Strong launch for “Chef In Your Ear” France 2!


“Chef In Your Ear”, aka “Un Chef A L’Oreille” hits the ground running on France 2, with a 40% increase on the daily stripped slot.

unchefaloreilleune-1448595calo f2 review topcalo f2 review middlecalo f2 review bottom





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Michel Explores Opportunities in Asia


TFP Michel Rodrigue chaired a timely panel on the opportunities to partner, produce and develop content in Asia, despite stricter regulations in China over foreign content at RealScreen in Washington:

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Syco Entertainment Signs Development Deal With Star China


The 3-year-deal, brokered by The Format People, will see the ‘X Factor’ producer develop global entertainment formats with Star China Media, one of China’s leading media companies.



Simon Cowell’s Syco Entertainment has signed a three-year development deal with our client, Star China International Media Ltd, brokered by The Format People.  The new deal focuses on large-scale formats designed to appeal throughout China, with the possibility of international distribution.

The deal was sealed following a four-day conference involving Star China executives Jin Lei (pictured, left), CEO of Canxing Production & Star China Chief Director, Iris Xia, deputy general manager, Nigel Hall, global head of television for Syco Entertainment and George Levendis, Syco’s head of international.

Syco is a joint venture between Simon Cowell (pictured, above right) and Sony Music, and responsible for the Got Talentformat that has been commissioned in 70 territories.

Star China International Media Ltd. is owned by China Media Capital and behind various shiny-floor formats such as Sing! China, The Voice of China, the Chinese version of So You Think You Can Dance and The King of Mask Singer.

“Canxing/Star China is thrilled to partner with Syco, one of the top entertainment companies in the world. We just completed a very inspiring week-long creative session with Syco and our team is excited for the future projects we will co-create. This is the first time Canxing/Star China has entered into such a major collaborative deal with a company outside of China and we are proud to partner with such a prestigious organization as Syco,” said Tian Ming, Star Media CEO, in a statement.

“Syco Entertainment is delighted to partner with Star China in this long-term development deal. Star China has a first-class pedigree of production in China and, for our part at Syco, we believe our visions will help this partnership be truly creative and successful,” added Nigel Hall.

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Three shows I’ve recently consulted on as The Format Doctor stand out because of their genres: Health, Daytime and Animation. Together they prove that ‘formatting’ is not limited to reality, games and drama …

MIPTV 2016 was abuzz over Norwegian format DOCTORS VS INTERNET, which I helped to develop for pubcaster NRK last year.

jggju-vwtjrqibiwvxuvqgqgytqbauwmb43htmmebdeqThe premise of the show (called “What’s Wrong with You?” in Norway) sees two teams compete to diagnose the medical conditions of real people entering the studio, across three rounds. The twist is that while one team is made up of doctors, the other team are ordinary people with access to Google.

I often teach that the best formats answer a question viewers are asking: in this case, can you diagnose yourself better than your doctor? The team I worked with in Oslo already had huge experience producing a health magazine show – now they wanted to branch out into the game show field. Which is where I came in, to help shape and structure their idea according to the grammar of game (and international appeal), without losing the underlying content.

The result? “Doctors vs Internet” launched in March 2016, achieving an astonishing 43% average share across the series. Following each episode an online test asking the question “Should you have been a doctor?” netted 300,000 unique users, each spending over 9 minutes to complete the quiz. A second season has been commissioned for 2017, several options have been sold including Australia, Belgium and Holland, and it has just been picked up in the US by Critical Content, the product behind “Catfish”.

the-goods2-jpg-size-custom-crop-886x650July I was in Toronto working with pubcaster CBC on new daily daytime format THE GOODS, which launched this October.

Recorded live-to-tape in front of a studio audience, this fresh take on lifestyle sees a quartet of expert Hosts (including Steven Sabados from “Steven & Chris”) ‘share everything they know about how to live a happier, healthier and more stylish life’.

The challenge for me was to focus everyone on this core concept – the interconnection of the four hosts/themes – and make it central to everything.   It’s great to see Daytime shaken up with a new format that actively embraces what we all know: that home, health, style and food are not ‘silo’ topics, but interwoven to form the fabric of our lives.

pablo_castleI travel regularly to Northern Ireland to work with government-backed agency NI Screen, and a host of independent producers. Currently in production in Belfast is PABLO – a 52-episode funny and transformative pre-school series for CBeebies mixing live action and 2D animation – which I have consulted on over the past 3 years. 5½ year-old hero Pablo, who is on the autism spectrum, uses his magic crayons to turn his life challenges into fantastic adventures, and his feelings into colourful characters with a voice, in order to face the real world with confidence.

“Pablo” was a only a few lines long when indie prodco Paper Owl first approached me, and whilst I didn’t see animation as ‘formatable’, I absolutely loved the concept from the get-go. And through my work with I came to see that the ‘recipe’ of narrative structure, familiar and original elements, and a mechanism that drives characters through a story was as applicable to animation as to reality or game show. And I’m so glad to have been a part of it. Pablo is distributed by Cake.

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London — October 11, 2016 — Warner Bros. International Television Production (WBITVP) has confirmed new productions of third-party format “Chef In Your Ear” in Germany, Belgium and Holland.

“Chef In Your Ear” subjects each country’s brightest chefs to the ultimate kitchen competition: Which chef can prepare the best restaurant-quality dish — by remote control? The high-stakes, high-energy competition challenges two chefs to deliver dishes as good and as tasty as the food they make themselves. But there’s a twist. Each dish must be prepared, cooked and plated by a complete kitchen novice wearing an earpiece and working against the clock.

Created by The Format People and originally produced by HLP Canada, the series established itself as a bona fide hit when it debuted on Canada’s Food Network in August 2015, with the premiere ranking as the #1 Monday telecast on the channel all year with Total Viewers.

Representing the worldwide TV rights, excluding Asia, WBITVP has successfully introduced the format to European audiences through a number of local production deals:

  • WBITVP Germany is producing 15 episodes for ZDF, premiering in mid-October.
  • In Belgium, VIER has commissioned a 16-episode series, and for the first time, the format will be stripped daily. BlazHoffski Belgium (a WBITVP company) produced the show.
  • BlazHoffski Holland (a WBITVP company) produced 14 episodes of a celebrity version for AVRO-TROS/NPO 3 which aired earlier this summer. The format proved to be appointment viewing, regularly achieving a +200% increase with all demographics compared to its lead-in.

In Asia, “Chef In Your Ear” is distributed by Bomanbridge. The Canadian version has sold to Pan Asian NBCU network Diva, and the format has been adapted for two seasons in Korea for CJ E&M, with an option for Mongolia.

Andrew Zein, Senior Vice President, Creative, Format Development and Sales WBITVP, commented: “Chef In Your Ear is the perfect recipe — one part cooking, two celebrity chefs and two challenged contestants — making a perfect TV format for markets across Europe.”

Format originally conceived by Justin Scroggie

Developed by Ricardo Larrivée, Michel Rodrigue and Henry Less with assistance from Justin Scroggie.



About Warner Bros. International Television Production

Warner Bros. International Television Production (WBITVP) produces local scripted and non-scripted programming through its network of local production operations in 16 countries across the UK, Europe, South America, Australia and New Zealand. WBITVP’s production operations are responsible for both original programming as well as local versions of formats owned and controlled by the Warner Bros. Television Group, such as “The Bachelor,” “First Dates,” “Little Big Shots,” “500 Questions,” “Impractical Jokers” and “Who Do You Think You Are?” Where WBITVP has no local production capability, it licenses Warner Bros. formats to third parties.

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A raft of top Format People consultants and guest keynote speakers took centre-stage this September at the 2016 BCWW International Format Conference in the South Korean capital, Seoul.

Gary Carter, formerly senior executive at Endemol Shine and Fremantle Media, opened proceedings with an insightful keynote about ‘disruption’ in the distribution, consumption and monetization of content our industry and the necessity to embrace the value of the changes it brings.

Gary Carter

Gary Carter opens the conference with a keynote on the value of disruption.


Tony Gregory / Justin Scroggie

Tony Gregory and Justin Scroggie review K-Formats Reloaded

TFP CCO & Partner Justin Scroggie was one of the three Judges of the inaugural BCWW Pitch Competition – along with Mike Beale from ITV International and Il-Joong Kim director of CO LAB in charge of global format strategy for SBS – with four finalists each from the UK and South Korea resulting in two worthy winners.

Tony Gregory and Justin shared the stage to examine 13 formats of aired series from the broadcaster members of the recently formed “K-Formats Alliance”, in order to analyze their appeal to Western buyers, and offer advice to overcome cultural difference in order to increase foreign sales.


Tony Gregory with Martha Brass

Tony Gregory interviews Martha Brass

Mark Newton

Mark Newton delivers his keynote

Tony interviewed Endemol Shine’s CEO of Operations, Martha Brass, about her career and ambitions for Endemol Shine’s growth in the future. Mark Newton then gave a keynote on “There’s More to Making TV than Format Fees and Production Profit.

And Justin moderated a panel discussion on the future evolution of formats in the digital era, with insightful contributions from Il-Joong Kim from SBS, Carlotta Rossi-Spencer (Head of format acquisitions of the Banijay Group), and international formats, acquisitions and programming executives Marc Lorber.

Justin with Il-Joong Kim, Marc Lorber and Carlotta Rossi Spencer

Justin with Il-Joong Kim, Marc Lorber and Carlotta Rossi Spencer

We began the day with ‘disruption’ and ended with ‘evolution’ – a positive note upon which to conclude!



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COEX_Seoul_CONVENTION_CENTERThe final module of our 2016 Formats A-Z course for Korean content agency KOCCA concluded last week in Seoul at the COEX Convention Center.  30+ participants from the major Korean broadcasters were given a unique insight into the international formats business by Format People consultants from the US, UK, Canada and Holland.

This time the focus was on the pitching, protection and exploitation of scripted and non-scripted formats in the global marketplace. After a warm welcome from KOCCA, the session was  introduced by the module moderator, Tony Gregory.  

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Tony Gregory

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Justin Scroggie







We started with preparation. TFP CCO & Partner Justin Scroggie explained how for a domestic format to travel it must appeal to its local audience first, and also contain the potential for foreign adaptation from the very beginning.  Justin demonstrated 8 ways for creator-producers to build the ‘DNA’ of potential international appeal into local formats during development.

We set this in today’s context. Award-winning multi-camera director and consultant Tony Gregory offered key insights into the trends for 2016 and beyond, not just in content, them
e and genre, but also in the choice and use of platforms by creators and broadcasters.

marc lorber

Marc Lorber

Gary Carter

Gary Carter

But what about selling? Across two sessions, Marc Lorber, consultant to leading global entertainment company Lionsgate, and an experienced international content production, formats and programming executive, offers delegates insight into techniques for selling scripted and unscripted TV formats, from pitch and promo to bible and contract, based on case history and direct experience.

 And of course there’s the pitch. Gary Carter, recently CEO International Operations at Endemol Shine, gave a masterclass on the principles of pitching formats, and revealed how personal style can make pitching an art form. Gary also presented a unique insider’s case study of one of the most transformative entertainment formats, Endemol Shine’s worldwide franchise “Big Brother”, and extracted key insights for the management of a TV product.

But what of protection? Justin and Tony offered complementary approaches to the legal protection of a format. Justin revealed how to build protection into your format during development, through distinct elements, visual identity, unique access and other tools. Tony offered participants ten ‘steps’ to protect a completed format from development to production to market and beyond, to give it the best possible chance of avoiding – or successfully challenging – a copycat.

And with a hit comes the opportunities to monetise. Mark Newton, media consultant and former EVP of FremantleMedia Enterprises, share practical approaches to value assessment, brand planning and commercialisation of TV IP. He showed delegates how to develop a ‘brand pyramid’ to help inform strategy and rollout plans, using case studies including “Downton Abbey”. Mark returned to talk about off-air rights and the need to create TV shows that facilitate a digital dialogue with their audience; a conversation that advertisers can join and extend into their own channels through packages of off-air rights.

Mark Newton

Mark Newton

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The Format People speakers



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