TV Formats: Editor’s Note

With the persistent talk about “peak TV” and the deluge of scripted series in the marketplace, entertainment shows have (rather unjustly) taken something of a backseat when it comes to industry buzz.

Accompanying all the chatter regarding the endless array of high-quality dramas hailing from around the world are moans about the lack of a full-scale global entertainment juggernaut to launch in recent years.

Don’t declare the quest for the Next Big Thing fruitless though. It seems there’s a nice wave of innovation hitting the entertainment sector. From singing competitions with celebrities in zany costumes to dance shows featuring athletics on par with a sporting event, entertainment is surely showing its might. TV Formats speaks with Craig Plestis, who is responsible for bringing the wacky costume-clad celeb singing show The Masked Singer to the U.S., and takes a deep dive into dance series.

Part of this innovation is, perhaps, being driven by the streamers, which are making some bold moves in the unscripted arena. The FAANGs have announced a number of recent reality-based originals to accompany their already quite hefty scripted slates. While some are being touted as global series, there are others that promise local treatments. The question remains of how to deal with the “live” factor that is so intrinsic in many of the big competition shows that are popular today, but producers and distributors are already rising to the challenge to come up with ways to make unscripted entertainment a viable play for on-demand platforms.

As traditional channels strengthen their offerings in a bid to lure viewers to linear, they too are getting bolder in their choices. Yes, there are still many long-running format behemoths holding onto peak-time slots, but that doesn’t mean commissioning has come to a halt. In prime time, there are opportunities to use the big brands as lead-ins for new entertainment shows. There are still plenty of formats being stripped in daytime and access prime as well. Also, interest in scripted formats continues to rise. Even markets like the U.S. have opened up to adapting scripts, and not just from the typical format-creation hubs either. BBC Studios’ Sumi Connock discusses the appetite for scripted formats in a Q&A in this issue.

You can read an in-depth review of what distributors have to say about the state of the format business in our special feature.