Amid a wave of consolidation, Global Agency has thrived as an independent. In just a few years, the company has seen skyrocketing growth—enlarging its catalog, bolstering its executive ranks, partnering with top-flight producers and expanding its sales footprint. This has all come about under the strategic guidance of Izzet Pinto, the company’s founder and CEO, who is looking to make Global Agency the home of the next big global entertainment hit.
TV FORMATS: How has Global Agency’s format business evolved since the company’s inception?
PINTO: The format business is booming for us. We started with one format in our catalog, and we now have over 70. This number even excludes the ones that we have taken out of our catalog; if there are titles that are not selling well over time, we remove them. On average, we add 15 titles to our catalog throughout the year. We usually launch around seven new formats at MIPTV and another seven or so at MIPCOM.
In the last few years, our best-selling titles have been Shopping Monsters, Blind Taste and Keep Your Light Shining. Lately, we are having some good luck with Lucky Room and My Wife Rules, and there is a lot of attention on The Legend.
TV FORMATS: As the catalog has diversified, how much is still dedicated to formats versus finished series?
PINTO: Right now, it’s 50-50. Even though dramas are bringing in more revenue, the catalog is even regarding the number of titles. Currently, 75 percent of our revenue comes from drama, and 25 percent is from formats. I want to get that to 50-50 also in the coming years, so we are very much focusing on the growth of our format business. If we can have more hits each year, this can easily be achieved. For example, if The Legend gets started with a production in one country and has good results, then everybody will be licensing it, and the revenue will jump. It’s all about finding one or two hits a year.
TV FORMATS: What types of formats are most in demand?
PINTO: Talent is still selling. Cooking formats are also doing well; I see this with Blind Taste and My Wife Rules. We also see an appetite for formats that can be stripped. Shopping Monsters is a good example of this. In Germany, 1,100 episodes have been produced over the last five years. In France, there have been 850 episodes. We also have the daily quiz show Joker, which has seen over 200 episodes produced in France. We have good a track record with stripped formats.
TV FORMATS: How open are broadcasters to trying out new concepts?
PINTO: Not very. That’s the difficult part of the business. If you can remain patient you can find a client to test out a new format. If it is successful in that country, then the sales can come extremely quickly. For example, we had a pilot episode of Lucky Room. Because it was only a pilot, it was not easy to sell. Then we found a Greek partner who loved the format and wanted to take a risk, and it went on air with record-breaking ratings. Within a month of that, we closed deals in almost ten countries. It’s about finding that client who will believe in you and take a small risk. It’s never a big risk with Global Agency because when we represent a format, we make sure that it’s workable. Broadcasters just have to believe in us, and after one country has success other buyers jump on it!
TV FORMATS: Tell us about the formats that you have created.
PINTO: One of the first formats that I created was Keep Your Light Shining. It was an instant success! We closed deals, including options, in over 20 countries. So I had good luck from the very beginning. Then I created other formats like Is That Really Your Voice and Talent Hunters. These had some success as well, though not as much as Keep Your Light Shining. The biggest hit for me is The Legend. We launched the format about a year ago, and it has received a lot of attention. We are talking with three countries for the license. As soon as one of them goes on air with it, and if it is successful, I’m sure it will create a lot of buzz and many [buyers] will get on board. Creating formats has become one of my biggest hobbies. It’s such a great feeling to create something and see it on the screen.
TV FORMATS: In addition to your own ideas, where else are you scouting new format concepts from?
PINTO: Most of our formats come from Turkey, but also we are finding formats from France, Serbia, Latin America, Asia—we are looking everywhere!
TV FORMATS: When someone approaches you with a format concept, what types of materials do you like them to have in place?
PINTO: We work with formats in all stages. Many companies are not interested in paper formats. For us, it’s different; we believe in paper formats because it’s the ideas that are valuable. If I see potential in an idea, I will be happy to invest in it. Of course, if there’s a trailer, sizzle or pilot, it’s a big advantage; but the most important thing is the idea.