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:

realscreen 2017 1


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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.  

tony wide

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

group shot

The Format People speakers



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A recent article by TFP consultant Bob Boden

Generation game

Heads Up was originally a guessing game segment of Ellen DeGeneres' talkshow

Heads Up was originally a guessing game segment of Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show

The recent crop of gameshow reboots on US network television could pave the way for a new era in the genre, Bob Boden tells Nico Franks.

The $100,000 Pyramid, Match Game, To Tell the Truth – a quick glance at ABC’s schedule this summer would suggest it was 1973 all over again.

And with scripted series taking up so much of the audience’s attention these days, the latest set of format reboots could be taken as clear evidence the gameshow industry is well and truly stuck in a rut.

Indeed, the heady days when Who Wants to be a Millionaire? and Deal or No Deal broke on to the scene and dominated water-cooler conversations feel like a long, long time ago.

Bob Boden

Bob Boden

There’s hope, however, that the revivals could kindle a latent love in the audience for the genre, says Bob Boden, former Hasbro Studios, Fox Reality and Game Show Network (GSN) executive.

“I’m very excited about the new era of gameshows and I’m hopeful the revivals over the summer could breathe new life into one of the most classic and enduring forms of television,” says Boden.

Should that happen, it’s possible that OTT platforms, which have so far concentrated heavily on scripted fare to build their subscription bases, will be encouraged to continue their as-yet modest interest in gameshows.

Those wheels are already in motion, with Netflix ordering obstacle course show Ultimate Beastmaster earlier this year, and Boden suggests more are on their way.

“The OTT services are all talking about competition shows as a viable genre. But these are going to look and feel different from the traditional gameshow,” says Boden, who co-created the Fox gameshow Greed and exec produced four seasons of the US version of The Chase on GSN.

So far, the successes on Netflix and Amazon have been serialised shows that practically force the viewer to watch episode after episode, employing cliffhangers and complex plots. For a gameshow to pop online, logic suggests it would also need these things.

However, Boden isn’t fazed by this and argues viewers will soon start consuming gameshows on-demand in the same way they devour hour upon hour of scripted shows in one sitting.

“Gameshows can lend themselves to binge-watching,” Boden says, pointing to Ken Jennings’ famous 74-episode winning streak on Jeopardy! in 2004 when he won US$2,520,700 as the “perfect binge-watching experience.”

All these new OTT platforms need is the “right gameshow, with the right personalities and the right material,” says Boden, and then the idea of watching gameshows on-demand wouldn’t seem so strange.

The $100,000 Pyramid returns this summer on ABC

The $100,000 Pyramid returns this summer on ABC

Each passing industry event highlights the growing links between linear television and online, with a number of formats available on the market that wouldn’t be there without the other platform.

Take Lip Sync BattleBig Fan or, more recently, Car Pool Karaoke. Each format began life as segments on late-night talkshows – a very traditional type of programme. But the idea to extend them into standalone formats only came after clips of the segments went viral online.

“Lip Sync Battle has made a massive difference to Spike and there are now other shows that come from talkshows that are being developed,” says Boden.

These include Heads Up, a guessing game segment on Ellen DeGeneres’ syndicated talkshow that is also a popular mobile app. Boden has recently been working on turning it into a gameshow format.

Some 65 episodes have been produced and Boden says an announcement about a broadcaster is due soon. This comes after CNN’s companion station HLN decided to pass on the series earlier this year.

Another example of what Boden calls “the synergy between traditional TV gameshows and games on other platforms” is Quiz Up, an interactive gameshow for NBC based on the trivia app of the same name that is set to go into production soon, according to Boden.

So it looks like we could well be about to witness the rebirth of the gameshow. As Boden says: “There is definitely more of a connection between the world of gameshows and online games, video games, e-sports and apps than ever before.”

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Formats A-Z Creativity Module in Seoul


Creative Development – the first Module of TFP’s Formats A-Z course – concludes in South Korea.

The first module of TFP’s Formats A-Z course recently concluded in Seoul, under the title K-Format: Global Format Development Workshop 2016. For the third year running, KOCCA brought together Korean broadcasters and producers for 4 days of lectures and workshops with 5 of TFP’s consultant trainers, based at the Hongik University Campus.

michel w k-formats screenThe module was moderated by TFP CEO Michel Rodrigue, and focused on Creative Development. Michel began by examining two key elements of the formats industry: content and commerce. Michel drew on his experiences as a distributor, and of his partnership with Justin Scroggie, to show how content and commerce must constantly challenge and inspire each other to create a hit show people will buy.

To make great TV, we have to work together. In a later session, Michel shared his insights into the three Cos of television – Co-Creation, Co-Development and Co-Production – and emphasised how in each case, choosing the right partner or partners is the key to success.

IMG_1254Award-winning multi-camera director Tony Gregory looked at formats from around the world developed from a key image, and showed how you can use images and icons to create new ideas and generate powerful formats. Tony returned to talk about a TV director’s thought processes, and explained how using a director to help build your ideas at an early stage creates more televisual formats, and makes good business sense.

Tony went on to discuss what we can learn from User Generated Content – and what it can learn from traditional ideation and production methods. Tony showed how to use UGC as a tool for innovative new TV formats, using a recent Europe-wide TV format as a case study.

IMG_1232TFP CCO & Partner Justin Scroggie shared his proven ‘Grid’ system for turning an original idea into a strong narrative structure that defines the essential elements of the format. Justin showed participants how to stress-test a ‘Grid’, focus and enhance the practical and emotional elements, and ultimately how to connect with the viewer.

A treatment is the written version of your format idea that you use to pitch to a broadcaster. But what should a treatment look like, what should it contain? Justin laid out a clear and accessible template for an ideal treatment, sharing a variety of examples of his own work.

IMG_1265Gameshow “Deal or No Deal” is one of TV’s most successful international formats, and has been broadcast/produced in 156 countries! Across a 2-part Masterclass, “Deal or No Deal” Creator Dick de Rijk shared his extraordinary insights into the process of creating a hit, from ideation to worldwide adaptation.

As well as “Deal Deal” Dick has created many format hits, including “Set For Life”, “Show Me the Money” and “You Deserve It”. Dick shared his 10 Tips for creating a format sensation, illustrated from the “Deal or No Deal” journey, but applicable to every budding format creator with a great idea.

Dick believes the pitch is the most important part of the development process. Dick shared some of his most creative and spectacular tools for pitching formats, from the simple matchboxes he used for “Deal or no Deal” to the development of bespoke app technology.

IMG_1288Gary Carter, recently CEO of International Operations at Endemol Shine, and previously COO of Fremantle Media, explored how to encourage creativity in the workplace. If we can understand what creativity is, and how and why people are creative, we can try to create those circumstances in a business environment, and to ‘lead for innovation’.

Gary used the case of international hit “Masterchef” which he oversaw at Shine, to examine the challenges of adapting a format whilst protecting a brand, and argued that local ingredients and local culture affect every adaptation.

Gary went on to illustrate the benefits and challenges of scripted format adaptation with reference to Danish drama series “The Bridge” which he oversaw at Shine, and which has been seen around the world and adapted in several countries including the UK and the US.

In the final session, Michel Rodrigue and the consultants took questions about creative development from the floor.


group shot end of kocca m1 2016

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