MIPBlog: How are formats selling internationally currently? What does the marketplace look like?

DoHyoung Lee: It seems like Covid 19 didn’t affect K-formats’ sales, as the global market shows a huge demand toward Korean TV programmes. The popularity of Korean television format seems enormous, as we witnessed through The Masked Singer and I Can See Your Voice, respectively sold in 50 & 15 countries. We cannot deny the fact that Covid 19 certainly caused trouble when producing TV programmes, but at the same time, it also created a business trend competing for the suitable formats in the earlier stage. In addition to Fox USA, VIS (ViacomCBS International Studios) has recently struck a partnership to develop formats and shows with South Korea-based Something Special. In particular, the deal with Fox was inked during BCWW, held annually in Korea and the topmost broadcast content market in Asia.

> There has been some success for Korea on the international marketplace for Formats in recent years. How do you explain this success?

The most obvious reason relies on human resources, composed of Korean format producers and creators. The Format business is all about negotiating brands and knowledge, and Koreans are experts on that. They have been co-developing formats with globalisation in mind from the early planning stage. For instance, CJ ENM has its dedicated department solely responsible for developing formats with overseas partners. CJ ENM plans to unveil the The Line-Up, a format co-developed with ITV Studios in the UK at the K-Format showcase. SBS, which co-developed the Fan Wars with the French Banijay Group, established its subsidiary company FormatEast, and its Dish Is Alive will be revealed at the K-Format showcase. Recently, FormatEast signed an option contract with the in-house production agency of FOX, the Fox Alternative Entertainment (FAE), regarding format rights of the music game show Lotto Singer.

MBC, famous for its format The Masked Singer has been working closely with global level companies, including the A&E and Discovery. MBC’s Oh! My Partner will be revealed at the K-Format showcase.

Format agency Something Special made a co-development contract with the UK’s ITV Studio, Armoza Formats Israel, and Fremantle in the Netherlands. Hitsmash and Crime Delivery will be premiered in the K-Format showcase.

Diturn as well, showing excellent performance after signing format first-look contract with NBC Universal U.S.A. Meanwhile, Diturn is planning to introduce its music game show My Ranking in the K-Format showcase.

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> How has the pandemic affected the market and production methods?

The Covid-19 outbreak resulted dual impact on the media industry; on the positive side, it attributed on the growth of OTT service revenue and increased customer’s viewership. However, is judged that there is a greater negative impact, in terms of global broadcasting content sales. Once the content is sold to the OTT service, it goes global simultaneously, resulting loss of global content sales for traditional players. Loss of sales means the power dynamics change; the power legacy media goes weaker. To illustrate, the volume of advertising market of legacy media has been showing constant decrease, while the volume of OTT services goes higher every day.

In addition, sales and marketing through non-face-to-face methods now became ordinary, but this way of communication seems to have a limitation in terms of earning trust and securing efficiency compared to the previous form, meeting people in person. However, many Korean broadcasting-related companies are working hard on this Covid-19 era to overcome the old sales and marketing ways, aiming to devise a brand new innovative strategy.

The Covid-19 outbreak resulted in a severe problem in TV production, but it is believed that the broadcasting industry is preemptively responding to the ‘With Covid-19 era’ by preparing various self-rescue manuals.

In particular, South Korea is famous for producing formats customised for this era, including non-customers & non-face-to-face production format, cloud-based production and domestic filming production. Non-face-to-face LAN busking method has been widely used in Korea. For instance, SBS allowed more than 600 audiences to join the shooting of The God Of Trot Is Here via an online channel. Besides, programmes are now mostly filmed domestically by switching filming locations to Korea.

Lastly, a new format adopting the Corona 19 situation is now emerging. For example, MBN’s  Drive-Through Show-All People Come is a drive-through karaoke room style show, a broadcast format suitable for the Corona19 situation, where applicants sing in a car, and the host decides whether to let the vehicle pass the bar or not. SBC, Saudi Arabia’s public broadcasting flagship channel, bought the title, under a format distribution contract with NBC Universal.


> Why has KOCCA decided to be a sponsor of Digital MIPTV 2021?

As at MIPFormats, we have decided to host the “[K-Format Showcase] The Next Big Hits from Korea” on Digital MIPTV platform to spotlight the up-coming hit-formats and drive TV Executives attention.


> What formats will you be highlighting during the event?

The showcase has two sessions; the first session introduces the formats of Korea’s major broadcasters. Among the scripted format, KBS Media’s Doctor Prisoner is story that a good doctor turns into a doctor for prisoners to tear down the power elites and recorded a groundbreaking viewer rating of 15.8% on weekday primetime. Channel A’s Lie After Lie, a scripted format, is a suspense melodrama and is a story of a woman’s true love that began from a lie achieved a high audience rating of 8.2%.

We also prepared magnificent unscripted formats, including MBC’s Oh! My Partner, SBS’ Shooting Stars, FormatEast’s Dish is Alive and CJ ENM’s Youn Stay. The last one is a reality show that celebrities operate a guesthouse in a unique setting, with Yuh-jung Youn, nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film Minari (2020), acting as the General Manager in the show. Moreover, Woo-shik Choi, who co-starred in the film Parasite (2019), appears in this reality show. We will also show you CJ ENM’s studio game show The Line-UP, which the UK’s ITV Studios jointly developed.

The other session covers six unscripted formats of Korean Super-Inidies. These include Cactus Media’s Chef in a Box, Cen Media’s 10 to Chef, Diturn’s music game show My Ranking. The last one is a music game show of singers who have to choose between pride and prize. In addition, this session will cover Something Special’s Hitsmash and Crime Delivery. We will also show you Vitamin Tv’s About Time, which was aired on Korean major OTT platform ‘Wavve’. The intention of the About Time is to make people’s dream come true by purchasing the time of the celebrities who have succeeded in their work fields.


About Author

As Head of Social Media for Reed MIDEM, James Martin oversees social strategy and deployment for B2B events MIPTV and MIPCOM, Midem (music industry) and MIPIM & MAPIC (real estate & retail). He is based in Reed MIDEM's Paris office.

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