2023: The Year in Formats

Between the protracted writers’ and actors’ strikes in the U.S., budget cuts and the always-present need for locally relevant entertainment programming, the formats sector rode the ups and downs of 2023 better than most other segments of the business. The big brands got bigger, reboots and revivals popped up everywhere, commissioners took a smattering of bets on breakthrough new ideas, and the quest to align with hitmaking talent continued unabated.

Last year saw Banijay launch a new global accelerator program to support female creators with unscripted formats. BBC Studios backed Rebel Rebel Pictures, founded by Vincent TV alums Simon Shalgosky and Daniel Brookes, and acquired a 25 percent interest in Mettlemouse Entertainment. It also secured a global first-look deal for formats outside of Australia with Shaun Murphy’s Big Owl Pictures. ZDF Studios teamed up with Tom Gamlich and Jan Fritzowsky to launch CONTENT LADEN. EndemolShine Germany and television chef, restaurateur and presenter Tim Mälzer set up Potatohead Pictures for new culinary formats. ITV America signed an exclusive overall deal with longtime The Bachelor producer and FBoy Island creator Elan Gale and his TheYearOfElan Productions. Broadcaster and format developer Richard Bacon launched the TV and tech entertainment company Yes Yes Media, backed by SISTER and Satisfaction. Tuesday’s Child secured a controlling interest in the London-based independent production company Interstellar, founded by David Williams and Jamie Ormerod. Satisfaction Group and Fulwell 73 formed a joint venture to increase their footprints and meet the growing demand for unscripted content. Impact TV was taken over by Monday Media, which also acquired a majority stake in the Finnish production company Rabbit Films. Ed October launched Youngest Media Group in the U.S. to complete the acquisition of the IP assets of U.K.-based Youngest Media. Meanwhile, Youngest Media founder David Flynn set up the new studio Plegazoid. Asylum Entertainment Group invested in the London-based production company Moon&Back Media.

While everyone is chasing the next big idea, the format brands that have ruled the business for years continued to show their prowess in 2023. According to Ampere Analysis, The Masked Singer has been commissioned in more markets than any other format, followed by MasterChefThe VoiceLove IslandBake OffBig BrotherDancing with the Stars and Got Talent. All made headlines in 2023 with either international expansion or revivals. Primedia Studios worked on a new treatment of South Africa’s Got Talent for SABC, while the format was renewed in a long-term deal in Spain and extended in the U.S. with a commission for AGT: Fantasy League. Meanwhile, in Italy, it moved to Disney+ after 12 seasons on Sky Italia. Sony Entertainment Television in India revived BBC Studios’ Dancing with the Stars as Jhalak Dikhhla Jaa. That format moved back to broadcast television in the U.S. with its return to ABC from Disney+. BBC Studios Distribution licensed The Great Bake Off to Algeria and secured a celebrity adaptation in Spain. Big Brother was adapted in Chile for the first time and renewed in Nigeria. Peacock gave a series order for Love Island Games and renewed its own Love Island adaptation, while ITV slated Love Island: All StarsMasterChef received a local production in French Canada and was renewed in the U.S., while MasterChef Junior got a new season on FOX as well. The Voice clinched a new season in Thailand.

Other long-running brands had a good year. Paramount Global Content Distribution’s Wheel of Fortune was revived in Germany. ITV also slated a new edition of Wheel of FortuneJeopardy!, as well as Banijay’s iconic Deal or No Deal, which also sealed a pact to return to Spain. Banijay Rights also signed a deal for an all-new adaptation of the adventure reality format Survivor in Argentina. Fremantle, Cat Tien Sa Media Group and VTV3 brought back the competition series Vietnam Idol. Comedians Romesh Ranganathan and Tom Davis boarded Prime Video’s reboot of the Japanese physical challenge show Takeshi’s Castle. The reality competition format The Farm made a comeback on the Chilean broadcaster Chilevisión. Paramount+ and BBC Studios Australia and New Zealand teamed for a new Australian treatment of Top Gear, which also landed in Finland. Netflix made more versions of Love Is Blind. ITV Studios’ I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! arrived in Greece. LEGO Masters reached Hungary and Japan and was renewed in the U.S. TV Azteca commissioned the first-ever Latin American version of the hit dating reality show Married at First Sight.

The game show space remained busy across daytime, access and prime. All3Media International added Finland, Denmark, Portugal and Germany, among others, to the territories getting local versions of The Traitors. The format was also renewed in the U.K. BBC Studios had a strong year with The 1% Club with a host of renewals, including on ITV, plus new deals in Turkey and the U.S. Talpa’s The Floor added to its global footprint. UKTV made its first Korean format play with a commission for Battle in the Box. Several co-developed game-show formats arrived on the landscape last year, including Fremantle and Kansai TV’s Quiz Pong, while BBC Studios and Nippon TV announced a pact for Koso Koso.

Dating formats, too, continued to be in favor among broadcasters and platforms. Red Arrow Studios International fared well with its new adventure dating show Stranded on Honeymoon Island. Prime Video greenlit three new versions of Banijay’s Temptation Island format for Latin America, with that format also making its way to Poland and India. France’s TF1 and Germany’s Vox ordered localized adaptations of the ITV Studios format My Mum, Your DadSave the Date made its way to Germany and France. Bunim/Murray Productions revealed it is developing the unscripted dating format Is There Still Sex in the City in partnership with the best-selling author and Sex and the City creator Candace Bushnell.

In the entertainment, competition and talent space, some newer brands were able to take on the stalwart hits. Armoza Formats landed new placements for Song of My Life. Banijay secured new territories for Starstruck and Star Academy. CJ ENM sealed new and returning commissions on I Can See Your Voice. Global Agency’s Blind Duets reached Vietnam. MBC Group launched an adventure reality competition based on the Million Dollar Island format. Gordon Ramsay’s Next Level Chef secured a two-season renewal on FOX. Channel 4 commissioned additional seasons of The Piano, which Fremantle placed in several international markets.

2023 also marked a busy year for factual entertainment formats. SAS: Who Dares Wins expanded to Belgium. All3Media International licensed Sort Your Life Out into the Czech Republic. Banijay Germany adapted The Write Offs format for ZDF. Portrait Artist of the Year secured new treatments in Norway and Denmark. The Bangladeshi entertainment platform Bongo signed a deal to produce a local version of the business format Shark Tank. A+E Media Group expanded its hit franchise Alone into Germany.

Other notable headlines in 2023 included a BBC and NBCUniversal co-commission for the Belgian adventure reality competition Destination X; the emergence of new shows inspired by big brands, among them Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge and Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge; Mike Darnell’s exit from Warner Bros.; and BBC Studios bringing together its three format areas and integrating its worldwide network of production bases under the leadership of Matt Forde. It was also the year producers started to pay attention to AI—of note, Banijay set up a new fund to power the creation of formats that utilize AI, either as a core tenet of the show’s idea or as part of innovating the production process. The metaverse also emerged as a new platform to pay attention to for non-scripted brands: ITV Studios’ MultiStory Media and creative agency Metavision partnered to launch Channel 4’s Come Dine With Me into the metaverse. ITV Studios also teamed with The Virtual Brand Group for The Voice Studios, a new metaverse experience for the hit talent competition.

Want a recap of what happened in the scripted formats space? See our year in drama analysis here. And for other non-scripted trends, look at our year in factual here.