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Digital age of television offers format creators opportunities for innovation

Freddie Mercury blasting through the Cannes Palais at 11 a.m. is not for the faint of heart. But it underscored the key feature of Remarkable Entertainment’s format “Starstruck,” in which participants are transformed into their favorite stars, like the Queen frontman.

British media consultancy, K7 Media, included the show at a presentation on Monday at the Mipcom Format Summit, organized by FRAPA (the Format Recognition and Protection Association).

Speakers at the event, updating global players gathered at the TV mart, included David Ciaramella, K7’s communication manager; Julien Degroote, head of content development, TF1; Jan Salling, head of BBC Studios Nordics, and co-chairman of FRAPA; and Carlotta Rossi Spencer, head of format acquisitions, Banijay Group.

“This conference is about bringing people together,” Salling told Variety. “FRAPA has, for more than 20 years, been the advocate for IP protection, but as the business is evolving, and we are evolving, we are today trying to be the bridge between new producers and veterans. Many of the veteran format players are part of FRAPA and on our board. We will bring the veterans and new producers together so we have a continued and fruitful industry.”

Salling said new trends emerging in the Nordics could soon be felt elsewhere.

“In the Nordics, we are seen as being first movers on many things, from new technology to consumer behavior,” he says. “Many players, from Netflix to HBO, are looking to the Nordics to see how many subscribers you can have in a household. What is the pattern?

Linear TV Out of Fashion
“What we also see now is, and I think we are first on this, is that all of the broadcasters commission for digital first and linear second,” he said. “So linear is no longer a priority for broadcasters. If it’s not a success for digital, it won’t be commissioned. It cannot be a stand-alone success for any of the Nordic channels. What it also means for broadcasting as a whole is that – and you are seeing bits of this in the Nordics, and this will spread all over Europe – is that you are no longer buying for specific schedules. It’s no longer buying to fill a slot at 8 p.m. on a Sunday on a premium channel. It’s buying to secure subscriber retention.

“It’s an exciting time because if you are no longer buying to fill a certain slot, you have an open slate for what is attractive. How does content stand out, and create noise? It’s not what you saw on Friday night; it’s what you saw on this platform. It provides endless opportunities for the format and scripted industries.”

Providing networking opportunities was high on Salling’s agenda for participants at the FRAPA event at the first physical Mipcom in two years.

“What you have seen here is that TF1 and Carlotta Rossi, from the world’s largest producers, are accessible and open for business. As I said, it’s about getting shit done. You don’t want to be afraid of your idea being stolen and sit on a piece of paper. If you are not willing to do partnerships with big groups that can help you lift it up, because it’s better to have a small share of something really big than a big share of something that is non-existent, then you could just be left sitting on an idea.”

Degroote added: “It’s important to talk about what we are looking for. TFI does a lot of formats each year. It was important to come back to Cannes and meet creative people and see ideas. We have missed Cannes and talking to creatives. We think 2022 will be a great year for advertising and to then place new shows.”

Ciaramella spoke about a “reality renaissance.”

“Buyers are after unscripted programming, specifically reality and dating, to fill the void left by delays to the scripted pipeline,” he says. “There is drama in dating. It’s cost effective. Two directions are emerging: are they for real, like ‘The Love Trap.’ The other direction is a bit more earnest. After 18 months in lockdown, we are seeing more romance on screens.”

But what sort of romance? Top of the list are quirky shows like Channel 4’s “Kinky Daters,” and the polyamorous dating show “The Love Triangle,” he says. Variety

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