Media Ranch’s Sophie Ferron


A strong supporter of helping to bring paper formats from idea to series, Media Ranch has been championing fresh ideas from its inception. Through its Horsepower incubator, the company has provided a training ground that fosters and celebrates new creators. Among the formats to come from this initiative is House Party, which infuses state-of-the-art tech into its gameplay. Sophie Ferron, co-principal at Media Ranch, talks to TV Formats about some of the secrets of successful game shows in today’s marketplace.

***Image***TV FORMATS: What new game shows are you rolling out globally?
FERRON: We have an exciting one called Best at Everything from the incredible Dan Munday. We also have Wonwoo Park’s new singing format Round Table, which has a great gaming strategy to it.

TV FORMATS: What goes into keeping a game show fresh season after season?
FERRON: It’s important to remember that one has to balance familiarity with “freshness.” There is a reason people watch, say, Family Feud. We get it, and it has a feeling of nostalgia and comfort. However, it also innovates in terms of the style of questions, the tone, the type of families, enhancing the set, etc. Also, new challenges and twists that feel authentic to the show are important to bring into the mix every so often.

TV FORMATS: What about the approach to casting?
FERRON: Excited, entertaining, confident and, depending on the show, reflecting the audience. We want to feel excited to get the correct price on The Price is Right and feel that rush and jubilation of the contestant (while laughing with the over-the-topness) and intelligent and “top of class” and maybe even secretly boastful when we watch Jeopardy!—while always in awe at how much or little they bet.

TV FORMATS: What new innovations are you seeing in game-show formats?
FERRON: We are definitely seeing new approaches to tech and some hybrids. For example, our paper format WATCH! is a hybrid between variety and quiz, the proven format Round Table is singing meets game strategy, and our Horsepower incubator-made paper format House Party, which is based on the hit game Just Dance, uses state-of-the-art tech developed by Ubisoft to ensure that the TV version has the gameplay recognized by fans of the game.

TV FORMATS: What differentiates a daytime or access game show from one suitable for prime time?
FERRON: They are all fun. We would say that daytime and access prime are more familiar and comfortable. Less focus is needed, and it’s more about the zaniness of the contestants. Prime time has higher stakes, more tech, bigger budgets, more celebrities and drama.

TV FORMATS: What are some of the core pillars of a game-show format that make it easy to replicate across multiple markets and budget levels?
FERRON: Solid, simple gameplay. If it has that, it is scalable. And, relatability and playability. We all want to spell the word as the Wheel of Fortune spins. We all want to guess the song on Beat Shazam. We all want to know if our answers fall in line with the top 100 on Family Feud and to ask what that says about us. Our show WATCH! plays on the fact that no matter how enthralling a performance is, we all see things differently, and it’s difficult to remember and describe reality.

TV FORMATS: With a squeeze on budgets and continuing uncertainty over scripted given the situation in the U.S., what are your forecasts for the game-show formats sector in the 6 to 12 months ahead?
FERRON: Unscripted always thrives when there are slowdowns on the scripted side. However, game shows usually have hosts, who will not be able to perform. And game shows take a lot of development and expertise to get right. I foresee perhaps a small bump in what we see out there—but not a huge shift.