Unscripted producers and packagers are getting increasingly creative with how they involve brands in programming, but the traditional deals for multi-platform rights and formats remain the most important source of revenue.
That was the consensus at a panel on revenue models on the closing day of NATPE. John Pollak, president of worldwide TV of Electus, detailed the unique deal structure with toy maker Mattel on one of the company’s breakout titles, The Toy Box on ABC.
“All of the toys that sell after the show, we participate in that,” he said. “I think it’s just an opportunity to recognize revenue outside of your traditional TV platform.” Playing matchmaker with advertisers during development, he added, “is a dance that we all have to have when we’re bringing brands to the network.”
Mike Beale, managing director at ITV Studios noted, “We’re seeing more players who can help get your idea funded.”
At Endemol Shine Americas, home of potent unscripted franchises like MasterChef, “the biggest piece of business is still the TV show,” COO Ben Samek said. Revenue from merchandise, live events or other sources “is additive. You’ve got to do it because there’s no reason not to monetize that way. …. But selling the show and having it travel to different territories is the biggest piece.”
Mobile and digital, especially with Facebook Watch and YouTube ramping up their unscripted offerings, offer new frontiers. Beale repeatedly plugged Love Island during the session, emphasizing, “We use social media to drive the editorial.”
Pollak said Electus has found that with Facebook, “there is complete interaction with Facebook users. That wasn’’t added after the fact. That was the reason why we did that show.”
While Netflix and Amazon have made splashy entries into the unscripted space, with shows like Ultimate Beastmaster and The Grand Tour, “not a live environment” with an interactive element, he said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how they will adapt, technologically.”
Moderator Eli Shibley, president of international distribution and co-productions at Global Road Entertainment, observed that Chinese conglomerate Tencent distributes reality shows available in two different versions. “There”s one that’s clean and one with comments,” he said. “In some ways, they have found the interactivity and the comments are the biggest part of the entertainment value of the show.”