Formats are proving to be resilient to the decline in commissioning activity experienced across the wider media industry, representing a ‘safe bet’ in a turbulent market, according to a new report from Ampere Analysis. ITV Studios has been exporting the most new formats.
While the volume of Unscripted titles announced in North America fell by 14% between H1 2022 and H1 2023, titles based on formats were less affected, with a decrease of just 6%. These figures are from Ampere Analysis, whose Senior Analyst, Olivia Deane, says: “With commissioners facing more stringent spending limits, format-based titles offer an opportunity for companies to reduce risk by recreating shows that have a proven track record.”
The Ampere Analysis report found that format-based commissions are increasingly international, with global streamers and other non-European commissioners representing an increasing proportion of new formats announced. The global streamers Discovery+, Netflix, Amazon and Discovery+ made up three of the top 15 commissioners of format-based titles between H1 2019 and H1 2023, the report states.
Western Europe, and in particular the UK, remains the engine when it comes to creating formats. Between H1 2019 and H1 2023, 36% of all format-based commissions were based on UK formats, the report found. However, the emergence of global competitors sees English-language titles represent a decreasing proportion of format-based commissions. While English-language format titles represented 59% of all format-based commissions in H1 2019, this number had dropped to 36% by the same period in 2023.
With 824 titles announced based on its formats between H1 2019 and H1 2023, Banijay leads the field with almost twice as many titles based on its formats than any other owner (ITV Studios was second with 464 titles). Owning a fifth of the top 20 formats globally, the vast catalogue includes many titles previously sold by Endemol Shine, acquired by the company in 2020. These include MasterChef, Big Brother, The Voice, Robinson (previously Expedition Robinson) and Lego Masters.
Although Banijay leads in terms of the total number of titles based on formats, the report points out that most of these do not represent new international versions. Between H1 2019 and H1 2023, 59% of all commissions based on Banijay-owned formats were Renewals in existing markets.
Analysing new international versions showed that ITV Studios exported more new formats than any other format owner. ‘The Masked Singer’ from South Korea’s MBC was commissioned in more markets than any other individual format.
The Ampere Analysis report says formats are increasingly important to the VOD commissioning landscape, although “streamers have a long way to go to compete with more established players in the formats landscape”. VOD commissions made up 15% of all format-based commissions announced between H1 2019 and H1 2023. Streaming VOD services are increasingly focused on using formats to boost local Originals, the analyst firm notes.
Ampere Analysis reckons international production capabilities now give global streamers a competitive advantage over their linear competitors in this space. “While linear commissioners carry out negotiations to import a format from elsewhere, streamers can easily recreate their own formats in multiple markets.”
Olivia Deane, Senior Analyst at Ampere Analysis, concludes: “Formats give global commissioners an advantage, as they can easily replicate successful formats in different operating markets. The future will represent unprecedented competition for Western European format owners, as more international and global players increase their focus on format-based titles.”