Lecture 1 – What is a format anyway?

Name the last 3 programmes you watched on telly?

X Factor, Strictly Come Dancing, Loose Women, Gok’s Clothes Roadshow, Deal or No Deal, Question of Sport, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, The Weakest Link, The Million Pound Drop, Family Fortunes, Come Dine with Me, and so on…..

If you watch telly, you watch formats.

TV formats are an essential staple of all TV schedules.  Get the IDEA right and you can make your fortune on telly.

A format; “When the cluster of production ideas and techniques that comprise a programme in one television market is used to make a similar programme, usually in another domestic market, this is defined as format adaptation or programme cloning.”
Amos Owen Thomas : Cultural economics of TV programme cloning: or why India has produced multi-“millionaires” (2006)
A format is; A Programme with a formula or recipe that  is easily playable and repeatable
And entertaining….
And crosses cultural and language boundaries so that it can be sold around the world.
Probably the biggest name in the Formats business is “super” company Endemol. Here you can find out why they are at the top of the game;
Endemol begun in Holland in 1994 by Jon de Mol.  Big Brother was it’s first big success but Deal or No Deal has made it the most money.  The company now boasts 80 companies in 26 countries broadcasting 40,000 hours of content each year.  In the UK Remarkable Television is the company you probably know the best. If you want to work in TV you need to know know Endemol.  You can find out about their current jobs here.

So what do academics say about formats? This explanation of formats here should give you a good idea of why they are a very important part of our TV landscape today.

“In their highly competitive national television markets, broadcasters increasingly look for ‘sure shot’, ‘quick fit’, and ‘hit’ solutions – television formats provide them with a solution. Formats cost less time and money to produce than to create original shows and they have usually proven their ratings worth in more than one television market before being brought to be sold. Besides getting the broadcasters the required viewing figures and hence high advertising revenues, formats also have a high potential for merchandising, multimedia games, phone-in revenue and other brand extensions. These additional revenue streams further increase the allure of formats for broadcasters. This is evidenced by the huge sums of money broadcasters are prepared to pay in various territories or markets for a license or option to an original successful format. The license fees alone for a successful format can cost broadcasters in Western Europe up to £30,000 for 20 to 30 episodes (of 1 hour duration) for one season!”


HOMEWORK – for next week 20th October

Watch this…..why is Deal or No Deal an internationally successful format? What are this show’s essential ingredients. Make sure you think about this on your blog before next week’s lecture.

Be INSPIRED – make sure you are watching and analysing one from each box  each week.

Who Wants to Be a MillionaireMastermind


The Weakest Link


A Question of Sport

High Stakes


Just a Minute – Radio 4

I’m sorry I haven’t a clue – Radio 4


The News Quiz – Radio 4

Whose Line is it Anyway

Have I Got News For You

8 out of 10 Cats

Celebrity Juice

Never Mind the Buzzcocks

Shooting Stars

Come Dine with Me

Mr and Mrs

Family Fortunes

Deal or No Deal

Dragons Den



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