The international formats business is filled with shiny floor singing-and-dancing talent contests, cash-filled game shows and constructed reality shows as well as the odd tank-fighting offering. This year, U.S. broadcasters have picked up several shows from around the world. Fox is working with the Black Eyed Peas singer Fergie on a remake of Israeli talent format The Four and developing adaptations of British skate competition Revolution and Asian singing competition The Masked Singer, while earlier this year CBS launched a local version of British manhunt competition Hunted.
But what will be the global formats to break through in 2018? Below are 10 shows to keep an eye on that will likely be picked up by a U.S. network and travel the world.
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The Line-Up (Korea)
Asia is fast becoming a hotbed of interesting non-scripted ideas; the aforementioned Hidden Singer launched in Korea, as did Grandpas Over Flowers which was turned into NBC’s Better Late Than Never. ITV Studios is hoping that “game show within a game show” The Line-Up can find similar success. The British broadcaster and production group partnered with Korea’s CJ E&M, producers of Endemol Shine’s political format The Society Game, to develop the show, which is based on the idea that people judge others on their looks, age and voice within seven seconds of seeing them. The series will explore whether a team of contestants can decide whether someone is a nun or a pole-dancer, or a convicted criminal or millionaire, by looking at them. Each episode will feature 10 “mysterious” individuals with 10 facts and one team of contestants playing to win a cash prize.
ITV Studios’ formats chief Mike Beale says the show has a similar tone to Without Prejudice, the 12 Yard-produced game show that aired on Channel 4 and GSN in the U.S. ITVS is currently pitching the project to broadcasters in the UK and Korea before targeting territories including the U.S. “The UK and U.S. are basically developing the same kind of shows so we wanted input from a territory that was doing something differently, ideas that we weren’t seeing,” Beale added.
Elsewhere, ITVS is gearing up to shop ITV2 reality series Survival of the Fittest, which pits men and women against one another in a battle of the sexes under the searing African sun. It has been called the “winter Love Island” and follows the success of that breakout reality series. The latter previously received a 20-episode order from MTV in the U.S. before it was cancelled as a result of a management shakeup. Beale says it is now targeting digital platforms and believes the show, which features a group of sexy singletons looking for love in a villa in Majorca, could work in a daily slot on Facebook.
Young Love (Israel)
Imagine The Bachelor meets Little Big Shots, a dating format for adults but run by kids. Young Love follows three singletons that were unsuccessful finding love on their own, so are going on a first date with a twist: they will have a kid whispering in their ear on how to behave and what to say. The show was created by Shy Barmeli, the Canadian diamond seller-turned-creator of Raid the Cage, the Israeli format that became NBC’s Sarah Michelle Gellar- and Leslie Mann-fronted Perfect Escape. Barmeli says he wanted to take the “games out of the dating game.” Barmeli’s fledgling firm Createit Studio recently struck a deal with Tom Forman’s Critical Content, the U.S. production company behind MTV’s Catfish, and is set to produce a pilot of the show for a cable network. “I couldn’t think of a better company than Critical Content to partner with,” Barmeli adds.
Sorry About That (Belgium)
Sorry About That is a Belgian format, known as Sorry Voor Alles in Flemish, that attracted nearly a 50% share when it launched on VRT last year. The Truman Show-esque format has since been picked up in the Netherlands, won the International Emmy for Best Non-Scripted Entertainment show, and is now being shopped in the U.S. by Warner Bros. In the series, created by Warner Bros International Television Production België, a person is unsuspectingly followed by hidden cameras for a months with friends and family aware that he or she is being followed. After 30 days of strange occurrences, the contestant is lured to a television studio, where it is revealed they are the star of their own game show and must answer questions about the last few weeks to win a cash prize. Warner Horizon Television is now pitching the series to broadcasters in the U.S. and I hear that the show has made the radar of an A-list star.
Couple or Not (France)
Deal or No Deal was one of the biggest international game shows when it launched in the early 2000s, despite the fact it largely had no rhyme or reason and winning large cash prizes seemed so random. French producer and distributor Vivendi Entertainment is applying similar logic to its latest game show Couple or Not, but with romantic relationships rather than boxes of cash. In each episode, a pair of contestants have to figure out who is in a relationship and who isn’t, with five rounds and a final standing between them and a €50,000 cash prize. The show, which is produced by Vivendi’s Flab Productions, was recently picked up by French network C8 for a 20-part daily run.
Matthieu Porte, Vivendi’s EVP International and Development, says the show was developed following the international success of its previous game show Guess My Age, which has rolled out across Europe. “This show looks like a dating show but it’s not a dating show, it’s more of a celebration of the diversity of dating,” he adds. Porte, who sold his company Can’t Stop Media to Vivendi in 2015, pitched the format to U.S. broadcasters around Thanksgiving and is a hopeful of a sale in the new year.
I Don’t Like Mondays (UK)
Do you remember Don’t Forget Your Toothbrush? The wacky studio game show was originally presented and produced by British entertainer Chris Evans and remade by Comedy Central in 2000 with Hangin’ With Mr Cooper’s Mark Curry. I Don’t Like Mondays, which is fronted by Alan Carr for Channel 4, is essentially a modern remake of that show, where 150 contestants turn up at a studio to play a series of games in a bid to win a year’s salary. The format was created by Alaska TV co-founder Chris Fouracre, a former producer of late-night gonzo show The Word, and is produced in association with Magnum Media, the UK producer behind science format Duck Quacks Don’t Echo. It’s understood that Natalka Znak, co-creator of I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here and founder of Sky-backed Znak & Co., is now pitching the show in the U.S. to broadcast networks.
Escape is a survival format that originally launched on Channel 4 in the UK and saw a team of elite engineers work together to escape from crash sites based on real-life incidents. The show, which was fronted by ex-special forces solider Ant Middleton, had the team race to escape before their food and water run out. In the UK, the show was a pure documentary series, but it is being retooled for the international market and the U.S. particularly with producers Maverick TV looking at launching a competition-style remake. It is understood that Netflix and Amazon, both keen to build up their roster of non-scripted competitive formats, are considering the overhauled series.
Simon Knight, CEO of the All3Media-backed production company, said he is keen to turn it into a “supersized Scrapheap Challenge.” “In the UK version, viewers knew that the teams weren’t going to die, so we decided to introduce a competition element,” he says. The company, which recently hired former Warner Bros exec John Hesling to run its U.S. office, is in the process of setting up a South African hub for all international versions of the show to bring down the cost for global broadcasters.
Tank Biathlon (Russia)
The relationship between Russia and the U.S. has certainly been in the spotlight in 2017. However, earlier this year, Russian generals attempted to help smooth things over with an invitation to attend its International Army Games, a military training exercise-turned-reality competition. Although the U.S. didn’t send a team, this is the basis for Tank Biathlon, an eight-part series for Russian broadcaster Channel One. The show features competing tanks from all over the world including China, Iran, Zimbabwe and India battling it out in a spectacular series of challenges and maneuvers including relay races, off-road battles and gun-firing exercises. North American distributor Syndicado acquired rights to the series in a deal with Russian production company LookFilm. Greg Rubidge, the president of Syndicado — which is best known for its film distribution — said it was a “bizarre” show that the company “just had to have.” It is set to roll out the Russian version of the show on Amazon before figuring out the next steps for the format, including talking to producers to create a U.S. version.
Buying Blind (Denmark)
U.S. broadcasters are keen to find non-scripted formats that can mix the jeopardy of Married At First Sight with other domestic genres such as property. Buying Blind, which is understood to have received much interest from the broadcast nets for a primetime slot, is one such example. The show was created by Kinetic Content, the Red Arrow-owned production company run by former Wife Swap producer Chris Coelen. However, it was first made in Denmark by Snowman Productions for TV3 so Red Arrow, a German studio, could keep international rights. The show follows a family looking to buy a house who hand power of attorney to experts who buy one on their behalf before being taken blindfolded to the property and shown it. They must then decide whether they like the house and want to keep it or hate it and want to sell it. Harry Gamsu, VP of non-scripted at distributor Red Arrow International, which has already sold remakes in Australia, France and Holland, says Buying Blind is a “premium format” with “high stakes.”
Married At Midnight (Germany)
Germany is not known as a prolific exporter of non-scripted formats compared to some of its European neighbors. However, All3Media International has high hopes for Married At Midnight, known as Trauen Dich – Trauen in Germany, after picking up global rights from local production company SEO Entertainment. The show, which is set to launch on RTL2, asks couples if they would like their wedding paid for. The twist? They must organize their wedding before the day is out including the ceremony, the proposal and the bachelor and bachelorette parties. Nick Smith, SVP International Format Production at All3Media International, says the show has a Don’t Tell the Bride vibe. He adds that the “perception is changing” for formats created outside the major markets of the U.S., UK, Israel and Holland, and that international broadcasters are first and foremost looking for good ideas.
The show is the latest wedding format represented by the UK superindie. It is currently shopping Wedding Day Winners, a BBC One entertainment series produced by Panda Television, which was established by former The Voice showrunner Moira Ross. Each episode follows two couples, poised to tie the knot, who must go head-to-head to win a prize of an extraordinary wedding ceremony and dream honeymoon. Smith says there is much interest from international broadcasters to find a big Saturday night entertainment format that does not include singing or dancing. The show launches in the UK in January, and Ross is set to pitch to U.S. broadcasters.
The Real Full Monty (UK)
One of the surprise hits of the year in the UK was The Real Full Monty, a one-off documentary that launched on ITV to mark the 20th anniversary of the Simon Beaufoy-penned, Robert Carlyle-fronted movie. The show, presented by Pointless host Alexander Armstrong and choreographer Ashley Banjo, follows a group of famous men as they learn to striptease and culminates in a performance in an episode of Tonight at the London Palladium. It averaged an audience of 5.4 million earlier this year and was a particular draw with women. The show is produced by Spun Gold Television, the Alan Titchmarsh production company that previously produced The Return of Courtney Love documentary. The London-based firm, which is represented in the U.S. by ICM Partners, is now attempting to figure out how to remake the show for U.S. broadcasters and whether to keep the documentary tone or ramp up the entertainment element.
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