By Ed Waller
Published: November 28, 2011
Hugh Wright, co-founder and VP of business development at UK- and LA-based Pop Monkey Productions, tells C21 about the cross-platform challenge and industry consolidation.
What is the biggest issue facing the TV format business right now?
With the convergence of web and television, producers need to respond to the challenge of cross-platform content. Audiences are now looking at shows while they're on the web and they want to be able to interact with their favourite programmes. The UK is way ahead of this trend with Endemol's Channel 4 gameshow The Million Pound Drop, while the US is a little behind the curve. One of the things we at Pop Monkey try to focus on is educating format buyers about the ways formats can be utilised across platforms.
How has consolidation affected the international formats business?
For a smaller company like Pop Monkey, consolidation makes selling our projects more of a challenge - particularly if we're up against a company like Endemol, which is easily able to walk into buyers with a pilot at the ready.
But consolidation has also had a positive effect in that we're able to make deals much faster than the bigger companies, because our overheads are so small in comparison. So being an indie gives you a much more nimble profile as we can navigate the market quickly and get results. Our size also means we're not tied in with big brands, which sometimes have negative elements attached.
What formats or genres are hot and what are not in your home market?
Gameshows are always going to be hot, primarily because you don't necessarily have to have a long lead time before getting a game show in front of an audience. It doesn't need to be expensive either; if it doesn't work then you can move on. Dating shows seem less easy to get right.
What are the latest format sales or acquisitions for your company?
We have the worldwide rights, excluding the UK and the US, to In The Dark, a comedy gameshow that was in aired on Channel 5 in the UK in the early noughties. Also, we have worldwide rights, excluding the US, to Catch 21, which is one of the top-rated gameshows on Game Show Network right now.
We're also partnering with (former MD of Mentorn International and non-executive chairman of C21 Media) Mark Rowland on Blind Duet, a show based on a huge online karaoke website called Sing Chat, which has a couple of million registered users around the world. We have the new format from Hollywood Squares creator Merrill Heatter. If it is anything as successful as Squares, we'd be very pleased.
Finally, we have a brilliant cooking reality show from Hungary called Guerilla Grill, where two hosts cook in outrageous locations with the challenge of making a meal before the police show up. We think it could be great for the US and the UK.
What new formats are you looking to buy or sell this season?
We're looking to sell all of the gameshows mentioned above, but we have a pretty full slate right now, so we're not looking to pick up too many more. However, we always have our eye out for gameshows that have done well in small territories that we can get the rights to for the UK and the US.
© C21 Media 2011