Media Ranch’s Sophie Ferron Talks Horsepower 3.0

Sophie Ferron, founder and CEO of Media Ranch, talks to TV Formats about the third edition of Horsepower, a French-Canadian incubator aimed at creating exportable unscripted TV formats.

Due to the ongoing effects of the pandemic, Horsepower 3.0 was 100 percent virtual, and the workshop was shortened from the traditional six-month period of the previous two editions accordingly. “HP3 was a four-month venture since, as many of us know, everything is much more intense when virtual,” says Sophie Ferron, founder and CEO of Media Ranch. “We maintained weekly workshops with conferences featuring format experts from all over the world. Horsepower was fortunate to call on our industry-expert colleagues such as Hayley Babcock, consultant at HBMC Consulting, who has participated in all three HP versions, Andy Stabile of ICM and, of course, the excellent content teams of TF1 and Quebecor and La Fabrique des Formats. Actually, the virtual platform did make it easier for us to have top international experts from all over the world than in previous editions, and we were able to pair up the best global mentor for each participant.”

Horsepower 3.0 saw the two new major French partners, TF1 Group and La Fabrique des formats, join forces with original Horsepower founders Media Ranch and Quebecor Content. “TF1 is one of the leaders in France and the world in format creation and recognized the benefit and success of new format ideation that Horsepower bred,” explains Ferron, who also touts the involvement of La Fabrique des Formats, especially on the jury side. “Both of their participation expanded the HP brand, making it much more international, demonstrating the fact that formats need to appeal to more than one territory to make it a true format,” she says. “Horsepower participants needed to work even harder for their pitch to appeal to an international jury, and this element pushed the format to be even stronger.”

From the selected participants, eight virtual pitches were made to the jury, made up of ten representatives from the four partners. Ultimately, Alexandra Paquin, with a concept for a dating show format for millennials, was selected as the winner of Horsepower’s third edition. The format will be the subject of a co-development agreement as well as an international distribution deal. Quebecor Content and TF1 will provide funding to further develop the format for broadcast, and Media Ranch will manage production and global distribution.

“This edition was very competitive and robust, making it a challenge to choose a winner,” says Ferron. “That said, the jury unanimously chose the same dating format, which is totally on-trend, very fresh and offers a new perspective on dating that appeals to most everyone.”

After a short period of co-development with Media Ranch, TF1 and Quebecor to further develop the bible, the hope is for the format to secure a commission in Europe or in Canada. “It is possible it will receive pickup elsewhere since we have partners all over the world looking for this genre of format,” Ferron says, noting that previous Horsepower formats have secured deals in the U.S., Asia and France, to date.

Media Ranch plans to continue with the successful Horsepower franchise and has been in discussions with global partners to expand the reach outside of Canada. “The value is two-fold,” says Ferron. “First, to the participants, who have told us the experience is life-changing, getting a rare opportunity to work with format experts that they would never have met on their own, and second, to keep the creativity flowing and evolving within the format industry itself, bringing forth new artistic format producers.”