Matthieu Porte, executive VP of international and development at Vivendi Entertainment, talks to TV Formats about the game-show format Guess My Age that has been adapted for local audiences across Europe and has recently entered the Latin American market.
Just as the title promises, the game show Guess My Age follows as a pair of contestants tries to find out the exact ages of six strangers. Armed with this simple concept and clever gameplay elements, the format, sold by Vivendi Entertainment, recently landed its 12th commission.
The show originated from Aurélien Lipiansky, the founder and managing director of Tooco, now part of Newen, who pitched Vivendi Entertainment his idea of an age-guessing game show. “It sounded totally global as a concept,” says Porte. “Whatever your culture or language, when you face people you don’t know, the first thing you wonder is their age. And it’s tough not to ask! We collaborated on further developments, adding clues like a song or event of the birth year, a celebrity of the same age, establishing the show around nostalgia and pop culture. We convinced the commissioners internally and produced a first batch of episodes for C8, the fifth free-to-air commercial network in France, owned by Canal+.”
The series was launched in France in a daily access slot in 2016. “It became an instant hit among the 25-to-49 target group, doubling the market share in the slot, and the show was quickly renewed with a new batch of weekly and prime-time episodes,” Porte explains. “We’ve produced a total of three seasons in France,” and discussions are underway about doing another for C8 as well.
The first country to adapt the format was Slovakia, with TV JOJ producing 180 episodes. “Our collaboration with TV JOJ was fruitful, as it allowed us to put in place a regional hub with adaptations made for Austria and Hungary,” says Porte. Hungary just finished airing its third season.
Other countries in the region followed suit. In Italy, the local daily version is going into its third season. The format was launched later in Spain, and “the tremendous ratings resonated well in the Spanish-speaking world, opening doors for launches in Chile and now very soon in Uruguay,” Porte says.
SKAI in Greece commissioned its own version just last month, with 100 episodes ordered to air daily in access prime time starting in September. This brings the total number of episodes commissioned to 1,370 for the format, with all the different adaptions being aired in a total of 18 countries. This is “quite an achievement our team can be proud of, as no other game show launched since 2016 has reached such figures,” Porte adds.
The show has been particularly successful in Spain and Italy. It airs daily in a daytime slot on Cuatro in Spain, but in access prime time on TV8 in Italy. “Both versions are really well-produced, with great hosts, who use each show as a comedy vehicle,” Porte says. “And you can’t leave before knowing the age of the stranger and the amount potentially won or lost by the contestants.”
The first Latin American adaptation was recently launched in Chile on Chilevisión, which airs the series daily as a 50-minute segment within a three-hour morning show. “We were surprised to see that they decided to produce 40 live episodes instead of shooting it as a batch,” says Porte. In terms of other extensions to the original, Italy and Hungary have developed play-along apps that allow viewers to get involved in the game as it unfolds on TV.
“Although most versions are similar to the French one, we are quite open in terms of packaging, as the look and feel can vary from one territory to another,” says Porte. “Colors, lights or size of the set can be modified depending on the type of broadcaster, the time at which the show is scheduled, etc. But what never changes is the fact that two contestants are trying to hold on to a big amount of money by guessing the age of several strangers—first by locking an age solely guessed on the basis of their body and style, and then by [refining] that guess thanks to a pop culture clue.”
What also remains at the core for all the adaptations is the comedic tone. “There are so many funny things being said by the contestants when they try to guess the age of a stranger, whether this one has a very common style or a surprising look,” says Porte. “It is great material for the host. And every five minutes, a new stranger comes in and some new suspense is set up.”
Vivendi Entertainment is hoping to get daily versions on air in Argentina, Poland or Mexico soon. “We’d also like to see the first adaptations in Asia,” Porte adds. “And we are obviously dreaming of a first adaptation in the English language, as we feel this format would be a hit Stateside as well.”