MIPTV: The Week in Formats

As RX France unveiled plans for MIP London, the biggest question for many non-scripted producers was the fate of MIPFormats. Per Lucy Smith and the team at RX, there are plans in the works to create a community for the unscripted sector at the event in London, but the consensus is that MIPFormats—and the opportunity it created for brand-new ideas to make an impact on the global market—will be missed,

And as it turns out, the formats sector is in fairly good health, as several weekend sessions at MIPFormats indicated. As always, The WIT presented its Fresh TV format picks to a crowded room, while Michelle Lin, head of data and analysis at K7 Media, unveiled the company’s well-regarded Tracking the Giants survey. There were more than 1,700 active format adaptations around the world in 2023, Lin said. “Year-on-year, we have 14 percent growth in format adaptations. The format industry has never been so robust.”

All3Media International’s The Traitors took the crown of “Format of the Year” for its 11 new adaptations in 2023, topping the winner for the last four years, The Masked Singer, and up from 7 last year. There are nine new versions coming up in 2024, Lin noted. “The Traitors has pushed a wave of gamified, structured reality shows,” Lin said.

In terms of new brands, the “Rising Format Star” went to Banijay’s Good Luck Guys. The “Streamer Format Star” is LOL: Last One Laughing on Prime Video, which has emerged as the biggest buyer of unscripted formats around the world in 2023, Lin said. The format to watch in 2024 is Talpa Studios’ The Floor.

In terms of genres, entertainment dominates with 53 percent of format adaptations. The sub-genres of game shows and talent experienced gains, while adventure reality, with shows like Destination X, is picking up steam. A year since its unveiling, the Belgian competition format Destination X landed a full series order from NBC. NBC and BBC commissioned U.S. and U.K. versions of the adventure reality series following the success of their commission of The Traitors. Twofour will produce U.S. and U.K. versions, while the NBC version will be co-produced with Universal Television Alternative Studio. Both versions will be filmed in tandem, with expectations to launch in 2025 across NBC, BBC One and iPlayer.

Also in the adventure reality genre, the new Skydive Quiz format was unveiled at MIPFormats in a session featuring ZDF Studios’ Unscripted VP Ralf Rückauer and the show’s creator, Mário Daniel, discussing its global rollout potential in conversation with World Screen’s Kristin Brzoznowski. Daniel, a popular magician in his home of Portugal, came up with the concept for the format, in which contestants answer rapid-fire questions while taking their first-ever skydive, while preparing to jump out of a plane in handcuffs for a show on SIC. “It’s not just about the jump; it’s about the adrenaline rush,” Daniel said. “There are a lot of things happening in your brain when you start making sure that you are about to do something like this.”

Rückauer highlighted the simplicity of the premise: “It’s not complicated: It’s asking questions during a skydive jump. It’s very emotional, and we’re working on how to make it more emotional because the teams competing could be father/daughter [duos] or best friends.”

Reflecting its increasing commitment to the non-scripted entertainment space, ZDF Studios also sponsored this year’s MIPFormats Pitch. The Stupid House, from Chulapo Pictures, was selected as the best of this year’s offerings.

Format launches continued into day one of MIPTV, when Nick Smith, executive VP of formats at All3Media International, and Shun Fukaya, head of format development at Tokyo Broadcasting System Television (TBS), discussed the new co-developed format Lovers or Liars? in a session I was lucky enough to moderate. Lovers or Liars? is the first project to emerge from the co-development pact sealed between All3Media and TBS. All3Media’s North One boarded the development of the studio entertainment format, in which a celebrity panel tries to identify the real married couple out of four pairs of contestants.

“Because we were going to share the rights, we were very clear that if we were going to co-develop, we needed to work with someone we get along with and have the same goals,” Smith said. “Also, they need to bring something to the table. The beauty of us working with TBS is that they bring something that is different from what we bring. So the two cultures coming together has worked really well.”

Discussing the benefits of co-developing this property, Smith noted, “We both brought ideas the other party raised their eyebrows at. There was an idea for a hidden camera. When that was suggested, it came from the TBS side, we thought, Wow, that’s risky! But it works so well. I don’t think it’s something we would have come up with.”

The decision to include dance choreography, meanwhile, came from the All3Media side. “We don’t have a dancing culture,” Fukuya said. “We did not know how to direct the segment, but we decided to try it, and it came out to be very interesting. We could learn from each other’s ways of directing a show.”

Reflecting the importance of MIPFormats and MIPTV to Asian IP owners in particular, the week also saw the launch of The Swap Project, a new comedic social experiment format that made its debut in Japan earlier this year. The East-meets-West title sees two people from different sides of the world with the same occupation swap lives for a week. Meanwhile, TV Asahi and Youngest Media Group aligned on the physical game-show format Celebrity Fight Club, based on the Japanese broadcaster’s Challengers on Fire. In addition, Banijay acquired the format rights to the South Korean dating format Alumni Lovers in France and the Netherlands. The show originally launched on MBC in South Korea last December.

In another spin on the dating format, Blind Dating was licensed for an adaptation in Africa in a deal sealed by GRB Media Ranch, while Dori Media further built the footprint for its long-running Power Couple game show. The format will be returning with new seasons in Germany, Hungary, Slovenia, Croatia and Romania. It will be expanding to Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Norway through Banijay Nordic.

Catch up on these stories and more on TVFormats.ws.