Wednesday, December 13, 2017
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“Superformats” Explored in ATF Session


Stephen Lambert, Viacom’s Laura Burrell and Fox Networks Group’s Michael Dick weighed in on the key to developing and maintaining mega-format brands in an ATF panel.

“Superformats—License To Last” was moderated by Jin Woo Hwang, the general manager and head of formats and development for the global content development team at CJ E&M.

Stephen Lambert, who launched Studio Lambert with the backing of all3media international, is behind such global hits as Gogglebox and Undercover Boss. “We’re trying to create shows that will entertain people. Casting is always very important. In closed episodes, you need a very clear beginning, middle and end, and you want a certain amount of heat and hopefully a light at the end. You want drama and conflict, but you want people to be at a better place at the end. People go on a journey and often they’re thrown into a situation that exposes them to different values and people they aren’t used to spending time with. And that can lead to conflict, but in the end, they’ve learned something.”

Gogglebox, meanwhile, has different values. “That really is just about casting. People who week after week are stimulated to say interesting things about what they’ve seen on television and if you find the right cast that reflects the diversity of the nation and people like them, audiences tend to fall in love with them. Each season it gets more and more popular.”

Laura Burrell, the head of formats at Viacom International Media Networks, talked about the huge success of Lip Sync Battle, which has been versioned in 21 territories since the launch on Spike in 2015. “It’s a singing contest without any actual singing,” said Burrell on the show’s global success. “It’s a competition show where the competition isn’t the key element, it’s about the comedy. It’s unpredictable. Everyone has gotten used to the traditional singing talent shows. Lip Sync Battle turned that on its head. You don’t have to invest a quarter of a year to follow someone’s journey to stardom. You can tune in and enjoy pure entertainment for half an hour.”

In addition, she said, with shows like Dancing with the Stars, you’re asking celebrities to “do a huge amount of work. It’s a big time commitment, they have to have some talent, they have to train. With this show, the celebrities don’t need to sing, they don’t need to be that talented, just be willing to get up on stage, enjoy themselves, have a strong performance, be in and out in a day. And it lets them show a different side of themselves.”

Michael Dick, the VP of acquisition, management and content acquisitions at Fox Networks Group Asia, talked about the success of the original format Bolt of Talent, where Michael Bolton mentors aspiring singers in Asia. “We’re very happy with how well it’s performed,” he said. “It was a pretty big risk, as an unknown commodity. It was an opportunistic chance that we took. In Singapore, the whole season outperformed the time slot ratings and the finale was huge. In the Philippines, it was number one in its time slot. In Thailand, it was number one across the day. The whole season outperformed our expectations. For something that was created from the ground up, it was very rewarding to be part of.”

Subaru was the title sponsor of the singing competition. “We want to create ad-friendly formats that can also resonate with our audience. We’re looking for new and innovative ways to find and make shows. It lined up perfectly that [Michael Bolton] was coming out to do a tour [of Asia].” The show, he added, premiered as Star World transitioned to FOXlife.

About Mansha Daswani

Mansha Daswani is the editor and associate publisher of World Screen. She can be reached on


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