Context 1 – TV Formats rule the world!

Still not convinced about the power of TV Formats? Well consider then the impact of Simon Cowell.  And then the transformation of a little TV quiz show, Who Wants to Be A Millionaire into a global phenomenon and Oscar winning film “Slumdog Millionaire.”  Keep the formatting faith, it could be you next!


Television viewing  show no sign of dwindling.

“Viewers around the world will watch 140 billion more hours of television, revenues from pay TV in the BRIC2countries will rise by 20 percent3; worldwide TV advertising will increase by $10 billion, and 40 million new viewers will be added; TV chefs will sell tens of millions more cookbooks than their non-televised peers4; TV shows will be the most common conversation topic around the world and the subject of more than a billion tweets5. In short, television will likely continue to command a growing share of the world’s attention and pocketbooks.”

Source: Deloitte

For facts and stats on the global format market.  Look at BARB, Broadcast, Rajar and and MIPblog

Global TV trading and most successful TV formats worldwide

The international format trade has seen enormous growth and acceleration over the past few years. While the traditional players are engaging in this gamechanging process by breathtaking M&A activity, newcomers are scrambling to claim some share of the approximately 3bn Euros up for grabs each year.

The FRAPA Report 2009 – TV Formats to the world traces the changes in the format business between 2006 and 2008 and sheds light on the industry’s response to the global economic downturn during the first months of 2009.

International TV Format Trading (2006-2008)
Statistic on the number of exported and imported TV formats (country by country)

Source: Frapa Report 2009

The number of traded formats has substantially increased. During our research period, a total of 445 original formats found their way to foreign screens. In the first FRAPA study on the format trade covering the years 2002 – 2004, there were 259.

The production volume generated by traded formats has grown from €6.4bn for the years 2002 – 2004 to approximately €9.3bn for the years 2006 – 2008.

The UK is still leading in the number of exported formats, followed by the USA, The Netherlands and Argentina, in that order.

Countries such as Germany, Spain and Italy, which were not particularly proactive in format exports, meanwhile jumped on the bandwagon and are now keen to improve their format business with promising results already in evidence. Even Japan, a self-sufficient giant, is showing a growing interest in the format trade.

TOP 10 TV Formats around the world
The most successful TV formats around the world (2006-2008)

Source: Frapa Report 2009

Format global heavyweights such as Endemol and Fremantle face growing competition from many new players; most recently several US studios invested heavily in local production abroad as well as in their format distribution businesses.

Talent shows, studio game and quiz shows are the top earning genres, along with makeover/coaching shows. The sales in such scripted formats as dramas and telenovelas are growing.


TV bods around the world are all chasing the dream – THE NEXT BIG WORLDWIDE FORMAT….

Current trends in Format ideas –

“Action, moral tests and attractiveness are the hottest trends right now”, says global TV observatory.

Source: MIPblog –

Endemol are the biggest UK producer of formats. But there are many other companies out there from giants like Fremantle (X Factor) to smaller companies like


Scandanavian Production company.  Sold formats such as Gay Army, Bingo Banko and

to the US.

The biggest problem facing all FORMAT producers in the market is COPYRIGHT. How to protect your golden idea?

DID you know? TV formats are not protected under copyright law.

Remember Pop Idol and American Idol? They were made by Fremantle.  Then along came the X Factor made by Simco (Simon Cowell’s company). So Fremantle threatened court proceedings for copyright infringement.  Case settled out of court so the law wasn’t tested.

“Television formats are vulnerable to plagiarism since it is widely presumed that they are not protected by existing copyright legislation. The courts have generally taken the view that formats are merely generic programme ‘ideas’, as opposed to creative works in their own right, and have consistently maintained that mere ideas cannot be protected by copyright law. One reason may well be that to do otherwise would give rise to the bigger media players grabbing a monopoly of the simple ideas, which would result in an injustice to the smaller players. So, although there is a growing format industry in which programme formats are licensed around the world, creating significant revenues, the lack of legal protection has led to the risk of ‘format theft’.”

Source: Legal 500

There is plenty of advice out there. Organisations like FRAPA  are fighting for producer rights to protect their work as well as Bournemouth University’s current research project, Exploitation of TV Formats.  Questions about copyright have been comprehensively answered by WIPO.


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