Unique Format Mechanics in Beat the Channel & Stealing the Show!

Tim Gerhartz, president and managing director of Red Arrow Studios International, talks to TV Formats about the format beats and unique prizes at stake in Beat the Channel and Stealing the Show!

Red Arrow Studios International’s Beat the Channel is a high-energy, prime-time entertainment format that sees two popular presenters get the chance to win a 15-minute live broadcast slot, where anything goes. The format is based on the hit German series Joko & Klaas gegen ProSieben, produced by Florida Entertainment for ProSieben.

“It’s a genuinely original concept that sees a broadcaster go head-to-head with two of its stars in a series of challenges, ranging from quizzes to races, big physical games or innovative mental challenges,” explains Tim Gerhartz, president and managing director of Red Arrow Studios International. “If the stars win an episode, the prize is 15 minutes of live, prime-time TV on the channel to do whatever they want with; if the broadcaster wins the episode, they get to set the presenters a forfeit of their choosing.”

The concept originated from the team at Florida Entertainment, who at the development stage were looking to create “a new type of entertainment show that offered more than the traditional cash prize,” Gerhartz says. “Eventually they concluded that what could be better and more exciting than the opportunity to win 15 minutes of live, prime-time television and have complete editorial control over it? They pitched it to ProSieben, which quickly agreed to the concept, with the condition that if the channel wins an episode, they in return get to make the hosts do whatever they want. So that’s how the show evolved.”

Joko & Klaas gegen ProSieben has been a huge hit for ProSieben, generating family co-viewing opportunities and capturing a younger-skewing audience. In particular, the 15-minute live segments have become buzzy moments in Germany “as viewers never know how Joko and Klaas are going to fill the time,” explains Gerhartz.

Most recently, Joko and Klass used the air time they won during the first episode of the latest fourth season, which launched in Germany at the end of March, to raise awareness for the challenges facing the low-paid, frontline medical staff in Germany and the country’s nursing crisis. The live 15 minutes turned into an ad-free, evening-long live event, and over seven hours, nurse Meike Ista used a bodycam to film her shift at University Hospital Münster’s bone marrow transplant center, while nursing colleagues from all over Germany added their stories via a split screen.

Despite its length, the event generated a 17.2 percent market share among the 14-to-39 demo and 12.2 percent among 14- to 49-year-olds. The event also trended in the number one spot on Twitter and dominated the news headlines in Germany the following day.

The format rights have been licensed in France, Spain, Portugal, Belgium, the Netherlands, Norway and the Middle East, and Red Arrow Studios International expects to see significant traction this year.

“Any local version of Beat the Channel needs to be high-energy, but it can be scaled and adapted for multiple schedules, time slots and, of course, budgets,” says Gerhartz. “The challenges can take place either in a studio or on location, and there’s also flexibility in terms who fronts the show—it could be a presenting duo such as Joko and Klaas, a single presenter or a rotating cast of different celebrities hosting each week.”

The ability to have a controllable production environment is also important in the current pandemic times, and Beat the Channel has been able to adapt to the circumstances. For example, the usual 750-seat audience in Germany was stripped back to 90 people for the latest season “while still managing to retain all the excitement of the show,” Gerhartz says.

Stealing the Show!, the international format of Wer stiehlt mir die Show?, was also created and produced by Florida Entertainment for ProSieben in Germany. “It’s a really clever idea that completely reinvents the traditional quiz show format because, like Beat the Channel, it offers a genuinely different mechanic and prize,” says Gerhartz.

The contestants—three celebrities and member of the public—compete for a chance to win the show itself. So, if during the course of the rounds and the final games, they manage to beat the existing host at their own game, they take over as the quizmaster for the following episode and the original host becomes a contestant.

“That fact that the host and the contestants can change on a weekly basis means the show is constantly being reinvented,” says Gerhartz. “Every episode is different because each host brings their own style and personality to the game, and the dynamic between the contestants and the host constantly changes. This gives each episode a really unique feel and provides lots of unexpected and surprising moments, which means the series is consistently fun and interesting throughout.”

The first season on ProSieben was very well received, outperforming both the slot and channel average, with a second season already commissioned. “We expect Stealing the Show! to appeal to a broad range of outlets globally, but particularly those linear channels that need to satisfy a demand for entertainment that works for the whole family, provides co-viewing, water-cooler opportunities and genuinely brings something different to the screen,” Gerhartz says.

He adds that both series offer prime-time entertainment for the whole family to enjoy but “have their own unusual mechanics and bold, original concepts, which differentiate them from each other and from other shows in the market.

“Additionally, we’re seeing that more and more, channels are looking to invest in shows that can develop into brands and franchises that return season after season, without losing their creativity and appeal. We think that both Beat the Channel and Stealing the Show! tick those boxes.”