Monday Media’s Tom Goossens

Specialized in telling authentic stories about interesting people, Monday Media produces across adventure reality, factual entertainment, reality and more. Tom Goossens, head of format acquisition and creative exchange, spoke to TV Formats Weekly about acquisition wish lists, paper formats, entertainment trends and more.

***Image***TV FORMATS: Looking at the entertainment landscape, what has been in demand as of late?
GOOSSENS: Escapism is the keyword. The war in Ukraine, the rising gas prices, the cost of living crisis: there is a lot of uncertainty in the world. People want to wrap themselves in the cozy blanket of entertainment. They want to laugh, to be surprised, to play along and to fall in love along with the people they see on screen.

The push for positive and feel-good content does not mean that formats can’t have any sharp edges at all. We do want to get hooked on the show; we want to binge. There has to be a strong reason to watch, it has to have a strong episode and series arc. But most of all, it has to have a heart.

Guessing games have quickly become a go-to format element across all genres. Who is singing? Who is a good singer? Who is sabotaging challenges, quizzes or a cooking competition? Who is dating for real, and who isn’t? And who really lives in this house? The whodunit not only adds an addictive layer of intrigue to formats, but it also generates lots of social media chatter, and it has broad family appeal.

TV FORMATS: With regard to acquisitions, what are you looking for at the moment?
GOOSSENS: Whether we’re talking to local broadcasters or international streamers, they are all picky. The market is extremely competitive as everyone is fighting for the viewers’ attention. Everyone needs loud concepts and larger-than-life casts to succeed. Therefore, we are looking for shows with big ideas and smart twists, shows that bring something surprising and refreshing to the table.

For example, we optioned Passion’s Open House: The Great Sex Experiment in Denmark, a loud and daring relationship experiment with a very modern twist that was an immediate hit in the U.K. We also optioned Nippon TV’s Old Enough! in the Netherlands, a very warm and feel-good format that has been around for decades and finally got its due when Netflix picked up the readymades. These are two completely different formats that stand out from the crowd in different ways. They have clear and distinctive format elements that are instantly recognizable, they create buzz, and they are channel-defining programming. That is exactly what we are looking for.

TV FORMATS: What are you not seeing enough of out there in the entertainment marketplace that you’d like to acquire?
GOOSSENS: Many of the formats that are currently out there fall firmly in the ‘nice to have’ category. Those are all shows that fare well in a traditional second or third prime-time slot but that will not drive new subscribers to a platform. Everyone needs to fill their catalogs, but when something is so clearly personality-driven, you have to ask yourself the question: What am I really selling here? Is it unique editorial access? A revolutionary production method? A stellar brand with a track record?

TV FORMATS: What should producers or creators know before coming to Monday Media with a format concept?
GOOSSENS: Monday Media is a boutique group of companies in the Nordics and Benelux, and each of our companies specializes in a different genre. We have a broad scope—from big-scale reality to intense factual and from big events to small studio. We don’t option as many formats as the big studios do, but when we acquire a format, we are 200 percent convinced it’s the right fit for us and our markets. We don’t buy formats because we want them; we buy them because we need them!

TV FORMATS: How is the demand for paper formats? Is it important to have a pilot or a sizzle?
GOOSSENS: It’s always easier to sell proven formats, but thankfully we work with plenty of clients who are still willing to take risks on paper formats. Yes, pilots and sizzles are important and will greatly improve the chances of selling the paper format. But what’s perhaps even more important is the talent attached to the pitch—not just on-screen, but also offscreen.

Our production companies have strong track records in various genres, from adventure reality like Million Dollar Island to reality competitions like Next Design Icon to social experiments like The Homeless Experience. We use that experience, and we attach the producers of our successful shows to new pitches, which boosts the confidence the channels and platforms have in the paper format.

TV FORMATS: As you look at the year ahead, what trends do you see emerging in the way of entertainment production and format adaptation?
GOOSSENS: Channels and platforms will keep going for bigger and better. There are fewer slots available, and those that are available will go to more ambitious formats. Looking at how BBC One programmed The Traitors in December, it’s an interesting way of approaching the bigger and better strategy. I have no doubt that our broadcasters will follow suit.

Reboots, revivals and adaptations are not going away either. The economic uncertainty won’t prompt many people to take big risks. The Mole is back on Netflix, Survivor is returning to BBC and Big Brother to ITV. If you have legacy formats in your catalog, there’s no better time than the present to dust them off.