Industry welcomes ‘well-researched, relevant and useful’ study
This month’s newsletter takes a poll of the market’s reaction to The FRAPA Report 2009: TV Formats to the World, which made its official debut at MIPCOM in Cannes.
FRAPA’s ‘world almanac of the format’s business’, aka The FRAPA Report 2009: TV Formats to the World, has been a long time coming. To be exact, it is five years since the first FRAPA report attempted to define and quantify the global trade in television formats. So has it been worth the wait? Joanna Stephens asks the great and the good of the formats industry.
Founder and CEO of Armoza Formats (Israel)
“THE SHEER volume of formats — 445 — that have traveled around the world and found homes in other territories is iredible. It’s also astonishing to see that the top-four format exporters in the 14 countries studied in the report were responsible for 75% of that total. However, I think we will see this number diminish over the next few years, as new international players break through with programming that excites fresh trends.
“In the next FRAPA report, we would of course be happy to see Israel as a featured country. We have a dynamic film and television industry that produces truly breakout programming across all genres, including formats. It seems to me that it’s time to start looking outside of the mainstream European markets to see what the so-called ‘alternative markets’ have to offer and what lessons can be learned from their different creative and commercial approaches. And I believe that FRAPA has a valuable role to play in this respect.
“TV Formats to the World is well researched, the information is easy to digest, and the findings are relevant and useful. The report will help us to compile comprehensive market analysis which, in turn, will feed our development process, sales tactics and distribution targeting.”
Format specialist and creator (UK)
“WHEN FRAPA’s 2004 study revealed that formats were worth €2.4bn a year, we were amazed to find that our cosy niche business had developed into a major industry, responsible for some of the biggest and bravest shows on television.
“And I’m amazed all over again by this latest report. It’s not just the €9.3bn generated by traded formats that comes as a surprise; it’s also the sheer number of formats that are now moving around the world, doing the business for their creators, producers, broadcasters and distributors. Bearing in mind that, 10 years ago, most people in the entertainment business wouldn’t have known a television format if they’d found themselves stranded on a desert island with one, this is progress indeed.
“But the explosive growth of the formats industry over the last five years and the ever greater sums of money involved also underscores the need for format rights to be properly respected. Television formats remain vulnerable to theft, because it’s still widely believed they are not protected by existing copyright legislation. In fact, it’s not so much a lack of law as a lack of precedence. But if it’s easy for the law to ignore a little cottage industry, it’s much more difficult for it to dismiss a €9.3bn global business. So I believe the FRAPA report will have legal ramifications, as well as commercial and creative benefits.”
President of Fox Reality Channel (US)
“THIS book gives you a fantastic snapshot of the global formats industry. It looks at 14 key territories — both established and emerging — and captures what’s really happening at local level at this moment in time. In fact, you also couldn’t get a more up-to-date view. The territory surveys go up to July of this year, so you get a real sense of the start of the recession and its impact on the business.
“Looking at the report, I think it could be argued that formats have weathered the downturn better most other forms of TV. And I believe that’s because, in times of financial stress, broadcasters see formats as risk-managed, tried-and-trusted and reliable. In truth, all volumes are down, but format volumes are down less than most.
“The detailed research that has gone into the report is spectacular. The territory reviews are great and the economic overview will be illuminating for anybody looking at international development. The ability to see at a glance which formats and sub-genres are performing in which territories will help companies to focus on the more economically rewarding areas.
“I was surprised by how the German market has charged ahead on the format creation and export front. For all of its sophistication, Germany hasn’t been an innovator in terms of formats, but that’s now changing. But I wasn’t so surprised that the industry is now worth €9.3bn. In fact, I’d have been shocked if the figure had been a great deal higher or a great deal lower. The acceleration of growth has increased slightly, which is a comfort for all of us whose careers and businesses depend on formats.”
Managing director of SevenOne International (Germany)
“Some of the information is surprising at first glance, but is actually fairly logical when you consider it more closely. For example, the excellent growth rate — it’s up by 50% on the first FRAPA report — makes perfect sense in the context of the format industry’s global expansion in recent years. The huge strides made by Argentina also make sense when you factor in the growing popularity of telenovelas, which are now breaking out of Latin America into Eastern Europe and Asia.
“I’m also gratified to see that Germany is becoming a serious player. We’ve fought hard over the last few years to change the international market’s perception of German formats. It was selling Schiller Street into the main TV territories that was the turning point. And not only is Schiller Street a format, but it’s also a comedy, which is not exactly seen as a German speciality either.
“In terms of future FRAPA reports, I’d like to see more focus on growth markets such as Israel, which is a fantastic hub of creativity. I’ll also be interested to see whether this trend towards big production conglomerates continues. I wouldn’t be surprised if, in the next two or three years, we see a wave of small creative shops opening up. That’s not only because there are always new guys coming round the corner who want to work independently, but also because the changing channel environment is going to call for a different sort of programming. The growing need for creative, cost-effective content will also be a great opportunity for fresh players in the market.”
Intellectual property advisor and broker (Canada)
“THERE are certainly some surprises in the report, such as Argentina coming in fourth in terms of the number of formats exported. However, I think that’s probably due to Endemol moving into the territory, where it now produces international versions of several of its shows, including Fear Factor and Wipeout, at its carousel formats factory. Those shows are then counted as Argentinian exports, which I think is slightly distorting the picture.
“I was also surprised that the production volume wasn’t higher. Although €9.3bn is a serious amount of money, I was expecting the figure to be closer to €12bn, given that the number of hours exported has almost doubled since the first FRAPA report. But it’s a big increase all the same —and it also confirms that formats are now a mature industry and very much part of the media mainstream. When I first started in formats, people used to say, ‘Oh yes, your little niche business…’ FRAPA has proved that there’s nothing niche about formats today.
“I also think the report will be a valuable tool for raising money. Investors and financiers seldom know much about the formats market. But now you can walk into the bank, hand over this book and say: ‘Here’s my business. Here’s what it’s worth and here’s why I think your investment is justified…’ For me, the most useful thing about this report is that it is shows outsiders — in an objective, unbiased way — exactly how big our industry has become and what great opportunities it offers.”
Producer, consultant and CEO of the Entertainment Master Class (Germany)
“FOR ME, the new FRAPA report is, quite simply, a must. And I believe it’s an essential tool for anybody — producer, developer, distributor or broadcaster — who’s involved in the global formats business. As our industry grows, we have a real need for this knowledge. We need to know who’s dealing with whom, what money is at stake, who’s producing which shows and where they are travelling. Formats are no longer a small business: they are a major industry and they deserve to be supported by proper and reliable research.
“But if TV Formats to the World confirms what we have known for some time — that our business is a profitable and powerful global industry — it was impossible not to be surprised by the amount of money that is now involved. The €9.3bn that formats generated between 2006-2008 represents an increase of around 30% on the 2002-2004 figures, which is impressive by any standards.
“It’s also surprising to see how the smaller territories have developed in recent years. Take Argentina, which was barely on the formats radar at the time of the first FRAPA report. Now, it’s a creative powerhouse and is beginning to seriously challenge the traditional format players.”