ZDF Studios Unveils Skydive Quiz in Cannes


MIPFormats this weekend hosted a screening and showcase of ZDF Studios’ brand-new Skydive Quiz format, with VP Unscripted Ralf Rückauer and the show’s creator, Mário Daniel, discussing its global rollout potential in conversation with World Screen’s Kristin Brzoznowski.

Daniel is a popular magician in his home of Portugal. He 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. And the conversations [that take place] in the plane. I felt I needed to create something around this.”

Daniel approached Rückauer with his pitch at the tail-end of MIPTV 2023, just as the head of unscripted at ZDF Studios was getting ready to leave for his flight. “I got the idea. And then he said, by the way, I’m a famous Portuguese magician. He had a set of cards and played several magic tricks on me. And I said, yes, I want to buy the format!”

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 or best friends.”

Daniel noted that the concept is universal—the fear of heights, or skydiving, have no geographical boundaries—and the format merges the quiz and reality genres.

“It’s also about exploring beautiful sights from above,” Rückauer added. “My perfect and ideal scenario is that you would make one season here and the other season there and have local production hubs.”

The show underwent a significant amount of development over the last year as the teams refined the approach to casting—variety in ages, personalities and relationships is key, Daniel said—the segments devoted to getting to know the contestants, and of course the technology. Daniel showed MIPFormats attendees the helmet custom-made for the show’s contestants.

“There were many technical questions,” Rückauer said of the development process. “Mario changed the music several times. It’s interesting how music can change a program. It’s not only a quiz. It’s about emotion, about your brain being in a completely different mode. It’s feel-good and funny. The quiz is just one layer of the format.”

The show is also family-friendly, Daniel added, with kids at home likely to enjoy answering the questions as they watch. “It’s a mix of adrenaline and fun.”