FRAPA blew out the candles on its 10th birthday cake at MIPTV 2010. But it had more than just a big anniversary to celebrate.

The association saw the inaugural launch of Formats Day at MIPTV — an event that drew some 665 delegates from 57 countries and 400 companies, according to official MIPTV statistics.

The numbers were both surprising and pleasing, says David Lyle, FRAPA co-founder and president of Fox LOOK, Fox Networks’ newly launched international business unit for unscripted programming.

“FRAPA was started to underscore the fact that there really is a formats business and that it needs to be respected,” Lyle says. “Ten years later, it was gratifying to see the number of people who paid good money to be part of this event. It was a validation of the formats industry and what we are trying to achieve.”

Lyle points to FRAPA’s 2009 TV Formats To The World Report, which was released last October and reveals that the formats industry now generates well over €3bn a year. While the report takes a macro look at the sector, Lyles says that Formats Day demonstrated that it is “the individuals and producers that are the fibre of this industry”.

So what’s on the front burner for the next decade? “Reed MIDEM’s recognition of the formats industry is a good sign,” thinks Patty Geneste, president and CEO of the Amsterdam-based format specialist Absolutely Independent, who was also a panelist on FRAPA’s special Formats Day session, Making Sure: The Price Is Right!
“The business is now mature, but there is still room for improvement and recognition,” Geneste says. “If you look at the productions resulting from the format trade, the numbers are huge. And they are going to get even bigger, especially if you consider the growing interest in fiction formats.”

Geneste says she was expecting those attending the FRAPA Formats Day panel to be relatively new to the formats industry. In the event, she was surprised to see a number of veterans among the delegates in the audience. “They told me later they didn’t want to miss anything and that they especially didn’t want their competition to get a jump on any good idea.”

Geneste believes the digital world will present a new set of complications and challenges over the next decade.

Lyle agrees, adding that the big issue in the digital age is “download versus view on a server”.

He adds: “Once someone downloads something, you have lost control over it forever. So the download mentality is definitely a challenge to the format industry.”