Cologne, 2. April 2009. Time to study the facts: FRAPA is going to publish a comprehensive report on the global format industry. The new report “FRAPA Report; TV Formats to the World” is being compiled in association with the global TV research agency The WIT and TV Sisters, a journalistic office that provides international programme research to German producers and broadcasters. The full report will be published in October in time for content market MIPCOM.

Ute Biernat, Chairman of FRAPA and CEO of GRUNDY Light Entertainment points out the importance of the new report: “In view of all the changes that have taken place over the past five years – changes in technology, genre and geography – it became clear to us that the format industry needed a new roadmap. We felt we needed to take a fresh look at what’s happening out there in the wider world and how these trends are shaping and driving our business.”

The format business is blossoming and new players entered the market in droves over the last years. The new report will trace the dramatic changes over the years 2006-2008. To offer you a first insight into the upcoming report, here the very first findings in six markets: Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany and Argentina. (based on data provided by The WIT).

Denmark, Sweden and Norway were chosen, as these countries had already a considerable impact on the global format trade before the time period covered in the new report. Over the last years the distribution landscape in the region changed significantly with new players as e.g. Zodiak Television, Friday TV and Nordisk Film TV.

Germany has been widely known as being the biggest importer of formats. This perception is increasingly changing. Fostered by e.g. the launch of distribution house SevenOne International and some appealing formats, the country was put on the map of format buyers.

Argentina has taken a flying leap over the last decade regarding the format export. Driven by single game shows, comedy shows and especially telenovelas, Argentinean programmes are meanwhile adapted around the globe:  most recently telenovela Lalola caused a stir among buyers. New distribution companies were launched as e.g. Dori Media Distribution, and many international players entered the market over the last years.

Sweden, Denmark and Norway

The Scandinavian countries are widely seen as a creative hotspot.

Format export

The region offers formats in a wide range of genres; between 2006 and 2008 at least 67 international versions of its programmes based on 27 different original formats have hit screens round the globe. The number of foreign adaptations based on Swedish formats has more than doubled, from 18 (according to data provide by The Wit for FRAPAs first study) to 42 between 2006 and 2008. Norway’s numbers remained stable (11) and Denmark’s slightly declined (17 vs. 14).

Quite stunning, classic reality format Expedition Robinson is between 2006 and 2008 still top of the ranks of the Swedish format export regarding the episodes produced in other countries. 10 different versions were produced with a total of 394 episodes. Also dancing contest Floor Filler is a winner, it saw at least 240 episodes on foreign screens.

New players in the production & distribution landscape

The production and distribution landscape in Sweden, Denmark and Norway has seen a major shake-up over the last years. And Expedition Robinson was at the beginning of these major changes. The launch of the format in Sweden back in 1997 put the region into the focus of the international TV production community. Especially prodco Strix, was in the spotlight since and came up with other best selling reality formats as the Bar and The Farm.

Subsequently, major international players entered the market; John de Mol launched Talpa Scandinavia with former Strix top executives; after an MBO, the company changed its name to Silverback and is since 2008 a subsidiary of ITV Global. FremantleMedia bought a majority share in Blu Entertainment (DK), Eyeworks went for Easy Film (DK).

Other former Strix executives set up format shop Friday TV together with Metronome Films and TV in 2004. The company became quickly a driving force in the format export, signing nearly every third licence agreement for Swedish formats within 2006-2008; it definitely has set its international footprint with formats as e.g. Single Moms and Clash of the Choirs. Since 2007, the company is a 100% Metronome subsidiary.

Zodiak Television was a Nordic player in the beginning, launched in 2004 via a merger of MTV Productions and prodco Jarowskij. It soon acquired other Nordic companies (as e.g. Yellow Bird, Broadcasters Oy) as well as outfits in the rest of

Europe (UK, Belgium, Netherlands, Poland) and Russia. In 2008, Zodiak Television was snapped up by Italian De Agostini Media Group, which formed Zodiak Entertainment adding assets as Magnolia (Italy) and Marathon (France) to the new giant. Zodiak’s distribution arm Zodiak International dominated e.g. the export of Danish formats in the years 2006-2008 as it brokered deals for 12 productions based on Danish formats.

Nordisk Film TV World was launched in 2007 and represents a huge catalogue fed by Nordisk as well as many TV stations in the Nordic region as SVT, DR and TV2 Denmark (which folded its sales arm TV2 World).


According to the data provided by The WIT, the number of exported German formats has more than quadrupled. Between 2006 and 2008, at least 52 productions in 20 different territories were based on 23 different German formats.

While game show Beat Your Host made a big splash and opened the doors even to the UK (a hard nut to crack for German TV fare), it were other formats that saw hundreds of episodes remade in foreign countries. More than 1000 episodes were produced of scripted crime docu Lenssen & Partners, in territories as Russia, Poland and Romania by German production house Constantin Entertainment. Also high in he ranks is popular science magazine Galileo, with more than 500 episodes abroad; using some pre-recorded material across all its international versions, it was sold e.g. to Sweden, Norway and Russia.

Producers & Distributors

German producers are currently strongly lobbying for more control over their IP rights, especially for the format and ancillary rights. So far, many of the format rights belong to broadcasters, which partly can explain the late entering of the format export business. Producers did simply not eye other markets when devising a format.

Despite the ongoing debate on format rights more and more international production houses are keen to enter the market.  In 2007, leading UK indie All3Media bought MME Moviement; October 2008 followed Zodiak with the launch of Yellow Bird Pictures in Munich. And only days before MIPTV 2009, Shine Group announced to set up a production outfit in Germany.

Quite important for the export of German formats was the launch of SevenOne International, the sales house of ProSiebenSat.1 in 2004. It quickly jumped into the format business with shows as e.g. Schiller Street and Clueless Genius. About 60% of the international versions of German shows launched 2006 to 2008 were based on deals brokered by SevenOne International.

The following chart shows the number of German formats adapted by country – only countries with at least 3 different formats adapted made it into this chart.


Argentina is meanwhile the world’s 4th largest producer and exporter of television content according to ProsperAr, the country’s National Development Agency.

Since telenovelas are for some years now a much sought after genre worldwide – not only as finished product but also as a format – the country is well positioned to feed this need. To name only a recent hit: Lalola launched in 2007 and local versions already premiered in Turkey, Spain, Philippines, Greece, Chile, Belgium and Ukraine.

Format export 2006-2008

59 different versions of a total of 26 original Argentinean formats have hit foreign screens. To gain insight into the drive of export, it makes sense to focus on first adaptations in the time period in question. Between 2006 and 2008, at least 25 original formats – among them 10 telenovelas – saw the launch of a local version in as many as 15 territories. The best year was 2008 with 18 different formats premiering in a total of 13 countries.

A quiz show, El Legado, was overall winner in the number of episodes produced abroad in the time period in question.  It reached a total of 965 episodes in three countries, Italy (585), France (170) and Portugal (210). Telenovela Montecristo is another winner with accumulated 882 (adapted) episodes aired abroad. Datingshow 12 Corazones ranks third, also with more than 800 episodes (on Telemundo US and NRJ12 France).

Producers & Distributors

Since the privatisation of TV channels Canal 11 (became Telefe) and Canal 13 (new owner Artear/Grupo Clarin) in 1989/90, Argentina’s TV production and distribution business is blooming.

The growing creative power triggered also growing international interest. Endemol, which already entered the market in 2001 by acquiring a 65% stake in production company P&P (now Endemol Argentina), bought a minority stake in young prodco Underground (behind Lalola) last December. In 2007, Eyeworks snapped up Cuatro Cabezas, the company behind comedy show Caiga Quien Caiga (QCQ). BBC Worldwide followed 2008, it bought a 35% stake in GP Producciones to form a production joint venture and to represent all GPP originated formats worldwide.

While Telefe International, the distribution arm of network Telefe, is around since 1994 with a huge catalogue, the pioneer in international format distribution was Promofilm, a prodco with a focus on game and talk shows. Already in 1995 it formed a joint venture with Spanish prodco Globomedia and brought Argentinean formats to screens abroad (Promofilm is meanwhile part of Spanish TV giant Imagina). Also production company Cuatro Cabezas adapted quickly to the format business.

Over the last years, the launch of Dori Media Distribution (2006) probably had the biggest impact on the country’s distribution landscape. Dori Media Group (DMG), an Israeli company focused on the production and distribution of telenovelas, is in the Argentinean market since the late 90s. In 2007 DMG acquired a 50% share of Buenos Aires based Central Park Productions – now Dori Media Central Studios).

The following chart demonstrates how a new contender changed the sales balance of the competitors (compares three distributors).

But the balance may be reshuffled again in 2009. Format boutique Flor Latina Entertainment was launched in autumn 2008 by former head of sales at Dori Media Distribution and earlier at Telefe, Silvana D’Angelo. The company now represents the catalogue of Canadian distributor Distraction Formats in Latin America. In January 2009, Telefe’s big rival Artear established a new department for international programme sales. And there are the international players as BBCWW and Endemol. The latter distributes, jointly with Telefe, new telenovela Mr. and Mrs. Pell$, which seems to become the next big hit.