Creativity will Lead the Formats Success

Formats, or unscripted/non-fiction programs, has been around for quite some time now. Can it survive going the way it has been going? With the rise of popularity of the streamers and the quick decrease of TV viewers, format creators will have to get working on cost efficient formats for TV and find a way to fit in the streamers catalogues, says Michel Rodrigue, CEO and Partner of The Format People; and one of the industry greats who helped shape the world of formats

After decades of dealing in formats, Michel believes that what needs to change to keep formats captivating would be large-scale live events formats, that which will attract viewers’ favour.

“We need to develop more competitive formats, physical game shows, talent contests and live appointments that involve viewer participation.”

Michel Rodrigue
CEO & Partner
The Format People

Increasingly, Asia is investing in IPs for formats from the West, but will likely put a different spin to how it’s done. Michel notes that most US and western world formats have been successfully adapted in Asia, demonstrating that audience consumption is totally depending on how it is adapted to the different territorial culture.

Same is true for Asian formats when crossing to the West; best example is the phenomenal success of The Masked Singer in the US.”

The Masked Singer: The original from Korea (top), and the adapted US version


In the midst of this story being written, headlines from The Sydney Morning Herald announces that The Masked Singer has reclaimed the lion's share of ratings ahead of its finale.

This format originated from South Korea, developed by Munhwa Broadcasting Corporation, and has been adapted across more than 20 countries in both Asia, Europe, North America and Latin America.

Parallel to this format on fire, is the long running Survivor. While some have noted that the likes of the somewhat shallow eyeball-stealing mukbang has made such formats seem old school and rather “tired”, Michel feels that formats can age well, if producers and broadcasters can adapt them to their culture, environment and most of all, to the current evolution of the viewers.

“Formats like mukbang are flaky, without a strong structure, catering to a young crowd, and will never be a replacement for such strong structured formats such as Survivor.

"The next big format will come from creative people who stop trying to imitate current successful formats and deliver a fresh non-derivative new idea…”

“The next big format will come from creative people who stop trying to imitate current successful formats and deliver a fresh non-derivative new idea, probably from a smaller market with smaller resources,” Michel enlightens, while noting that he would still bet on food and talent for the survival of the format business.

Across the decades and evolution of the industry landscape, the man who has been credited with getting the formats ball rolling, confesses that his the top 3 format favourites over the years are Who Wants to be a Millionaire, Survivor and The Voice (Western) and The Masked Singer, Grandpa Over Flowers and Little Masters (Asian).

Michel returns to ATF, leading a crucial panel that looks at re-formatting for the new world, and as host of the 2019 ATF Formats Pitch.