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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New Consultant Bob Boden


We are delighted to welcome to Bob Boden to our growing team of international consultants.

Bob Boden Facebook photo 2011 square 2Bob is an EMMY® Nominated Executive Producer, network and studio executive and international format consultant, acknowledged as an industry leader in the game show and reality genres.

Recently he was showrunner for the entire run of THE CHASE, the US version of the successful ITV quiz format. Bob was Co-Executive Producer on gameshow series HEAD’S UP, which he originated with Ellen DeGeneres, and the US version of Israeli format BOOM!


Read Bob’s full profile here.


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Paul Lewis joins Great Pacific Media

Paul_Lewis square headFormer Discovery Networks Canada president and GM Paul Lewis has joined the prodco behind Discovery Canada hit “Highway Thru Hell” as its new president.   Lewis joins the senior management team at Great Pacific Media in a bid to help the Vancouver-headquartered prodco, owned by Thunderbird, foster relationships with international broadcasters.

At Discovery Canada, Lewis was behind the launch of the world’s first daily science program, “Daily Planet”, and oversaw five networks as well as their related websites, the company’s in-house production arm, and a distribution business.

“As an innovative leader and a pioneer of factual programming, Paul is the best of the best,” said Mark Miller, CEO of Great Pacific Media, in a statement, while Thunderbird executive chairman Ivan Fecan said Lewis “is a wonderful addition to our family. He will help us to grow our relationships around the world with networks seeking innovative programming.”

Besides “Highway Thru Hell”, which airs in 170 countries and is in its fifth season on Discovery Canada, Great Pacific Media also produces “Game of Homes” for W Network.

Lewis departed from Discovery Networks Canada after more than 20 years with the company in September of last year, as part of a wave of restructuring at Canada’s Bell Media.

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Michel & Justin – Video Age International

video age bannervideo age 1video age 2video age 3

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Justin speaking at MIPFormats 2016

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NBCU Acquires Chef in Your Ear for Asia


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Michel speaking at RealScreen


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