Apploff Entertainment’s Jeff Apploff

The Los Angeles-based production company Apploff Entertainment is recognized for creating formats such as Beat Shazam (FOX) and Lotería Loca (CBS). It recently tapped industry veteran Joni Day as its new executive VP of entertainment, building on its prowess in this popular genre. Jeff Apploff, president and CEO, shares with TV Formats his views on the current state of the entertainment landscape.

***Image***TV FORMATS: What factors are guiding Apploff’s strategy in the entertainment formats arena?
APPLOFF: We are always looking for original and fresh entry points and ask ourselves: What is new and exciting that will resonate with viewers? Who are the underserved audiences, and how can we deliver to them organically? It is also very important to be extremely conscious of budgets as all of the networks and streamers are tightening their belts.

TV FORMATS: What’s working best in the entertainment landscape at present?
APPLOFF: In entertainment as a whole, the hottest area is live entertainment. After the pandemic, people just wanted to get out and experience live events. We are working hard to create formats and events in this space. In television, “guessing” formats remain hot. People seem to love interactive formats that make them think and engage in ways other than straight trivia.

TV FORMATS: Having landed several shows in prime time on U.S. networks, what are the keys to working in the American entertainment market?
APPLOFF: It starts with simplicity and attention to detail. We all want the same thing: a huge hit format. We ask a lot of questions to make sure we understand what the executives are really looking for and that they are heard in the notes they give. We work extremely hard to be as buttoned up as possible in every single detail. I always joke that “only EVERYTHING has to be perfect!” But it’s true. In casting, we meet every contestant; with scripts, we wordsmith every word; in content, we punch every hole we can; and we practice and prepare for anything and everything. We hold daily meetings with all of our production partners, and no detail is too small, down to having the right trash cans in our offices. We always manage expectations, are extremely honest with our collaborators and always deliver on time and on budget. We also pride ourselves in having stellar, high-level relationships with top-tier talent.

TV FORMATS: Looking at the international market, how risk-averse is the landscape right now?
APPLOFF: Every market is risk-averse. Buyers would almost always prefer to buy a proven and established format, but a great format must start somewhere, so we continue to work hard in creating, developing and producing solid, interesting, original formats.

TV FORMATS: As you look at the year ahead, where do you see the greatest opportunities in the entertainment business?
APPLOFF: We are building an entire business outside of television in interactive handheld games, which organically help world-class brands connect directly with their customers. We also are focusing on live, interactive entertainment events that can be televised. For television, we still believe that fresh takes on classic television staples are a good bet. If you come up with a groundbreaking format in dating, performance competitions, food or game, you have a great shot at worldwide success. Add a legitimate social experiment to any of these formats, and everyone will want to see them.

TV FORMATS: And what are the challenges it faces?
APPLOFF: Buyers want to work with trusted producers who deliver consistently and don’t overcharge in the process. Budget is the biggest concern I see globally. We work very hard to create formats that are built on a budget that buyers can afford. In other words, we sell what they’re buying!

TV FORMATS: Tell me about the hire of Joni Day for entertainment.
APPLOFF: Apploff Entertainment is experiencing explosive growth, and Joni Day is one of the most well-rounded, hands-on production executives in the unscripted business. We needed someone who has the ability to manage at every level. She is superb at understanding and driving the entire development process from blank page to screen. Joni is the ideal addition to our team. She will help us drive new creative development and sales and manage production on a host of formats, including We Are Family for FOX, which is already in production.