Paramount Global Content Distribution’s Paul Gilbert

The Paramount Global Content Distribution slate is home to format megabrands such as Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy! and Next Top Model, which the company is licensing around the world for local adaptations. Paul Gilbert, senior VP of international formats, shares his views on paper formats, budgets and big-picture industry trends.

***Image***TV FORMATS: What genres do you see broadcasters most interested in nowadays?
GILBERT: I don’t see much change from year to year with the appetite of broadcasters in the unscripted space. Game shows, reality and dating all seem to be strong as they have been in the past. I realize there are different types of game shows, reality and dating shows, but if you mix them all together, the appetite is the same from year to year. In the scripted space, dramas lead the way. That’s because comedy is so subjective and more difficult to produce. We love our scripted titles and the success we have had with them.

TV FORMATS: How are you finding breakout new ideas? Are there specific territories you’re looking at?
GILBERT: The shows that we license are Paramount Global properties. We’re very lucky that the company keeps feeding us new shows. We’re not looking at specific territories per se, but there are territories where we do make a larger portion of our revenue. Our scripted business is big in India, the Middle East and Turkey, among others. On the unscripted side, we can include Germany, Spain, the Nordics, Australia, Brazil and Poland.

TV FORMATS: How is the demand for paper formats? How important is having a pilot or sizzle?
GILBERT: We would love to pitch paper formats. However, our team is so busy pitching our IP that we just don’t have the time to pursue them. Having a pilot or sizzle reel is paramount (no pun intended). A pilot says it all. Sizzles are in second place, and paper is a distant third. Having said that, there’s nothing better than pitching a show that is on-air and is successful. Everyone wants to buy off of success, and I understand that. However, many great shows have not made it past season one for several reasons: bad time slots, subpar casting or not being well-produced. I always tell a buyer, forget how the show performed on-air; if you like it and feel it will do well for your channel, then step up and make us an offer.

TV FORMATS: The megabrands are still faring well. Does that make introducing new concepts harder?
GILBERT: There’s room for everyone. Our megabrands include Wheel of Fortune, Jeopardy! and Next Top Model. These three shows have a combined life span of approximately 100 seasons on-air in the U.S., dating back to 1982, with more than 16,000 episodes produced just in the U.S. However, there is always room for new shows, and we will never run out of new ideas.

TV FORMATS: How risk-averse are broadcasters amid this challenging economic climate?
GILBERT: Their way of combating the economic climate is to cut the cost of production. I get it. However, we try to convince them to order more episodes, which will result in a lower cost per episode. Sometimes they agree, and sometimes they don’t.