[Asian Leadership Conference] Global Format Strategy for BBC Studios
What is ALC?
Asian Leadership Conference(ALC), is Korea’s premier international conference where global leaders coalesce to discuss and provide possible solutions for the pressing issues currently facing the world. Former speakers for ALC include Barack Obama, George Bush, David Cameron, Reed Hastings, Steve Chen and etc.
This year’s ALC will be held online under the theme of "World after Covid-19: Rebuilding Trust and Cooperation” Blintn, an online marketplace for production funding & distribution hosted the 4 media sessions, inviting world-class authorities in media industry as speakers.
André Renaud/Senior Vice President of Global Format Sales at BBC Studios
André Renaud, Senior Vice President of Global Format Sales at BBC Studios, is responsible for the sales of BBC Studios-produced formats to the global market. Furthermore, he is making an effort for programs with BBC Studio-licensed formats such as "Doctor Foster", known for the original series of "The World of the Married".
Rhonda Richford/Journalist at The Hollywood Reporter
Rhonda Richford is a reporter for “The Hollywood Reporter,” American online magazine. Richford writes about the entertainment industry, fashion, and movies.
“Transforming Unique British Ideas and Storytelling into Local Hits: The Global Format Strategy for BBC Studios”
Q1. What are the format strategies of BBC Studios?
A: The strategy for developing new formats is looking for content which is adaptable by range of platforms, unique, flexible, returnable, provide either feel-good entertainment or bold original storytelling. Our unique company structure not only allows transplanting the best British formats, but also observing the market needs around the world and sharing them to IP holders.
Q2. What are the features you are looking for in both scripted and unscripted content?
A: I believe that the content is a form of escape for the viewers. They want to see the content based on the opposite perspective of their own situation in reality. For example, if a person is going through a tense phase of his/her life, he/she would want to watch something light and warm. On a wider global perspective, the longer-term trend of the future is the environmental content. Moreover, showing the truth and integrity to look back over the society and the culture. So, it is also about re-visiting the past and based on it, we can develop culture and inclusiveness. We should know how to celebrate the culture and inclusiveness in a humorous way, especially as scripted or unscripted comedy to reflect the modern society.
Q3. What is the BBC’s global format strategy, and do you implement it differently depending on the region?
A: Due to the merger of our production and distribution arms, the format sales became more logical and practical. For instance, it allows us to be well connected globally. Regional offices across the world can lead customer conversations and we as a functional piece, can provide solutions. Being globally interconnected is very important, especially these days. From a strategic point of view, particularly for Asia, we want to develop scripted content as it has been very successful. We saw how “The World of the Married” which is a Korean adaptation of “Doctor Foster” is the highest rated cable drama in Korean history. We can observe such successes and implement the model in other parts of Asia as well, such as creating the Philippine version of “Doctor Foster”. Moreover, we are also well known for the entertainment shows, and I would definitely want to rely on it too. Adaptable entertainment formats such as “Bake Off” can travel very well.
Q4. Despite the pandemic, last year was a very successful year for BBC. What are the contributing factors of the business growth? And why do people connect with BBC stories despite the cultural differences?
A: As a producer, distributor, and broadcaster, we also faced the common challenges such as production delays and cost implications but more importantly, health and safety issues of the individuals. From a format sales point of view, we had some strategic choices and responses to the pandemic. We had to keep the shows going as safe as possible, fill the broadcasting schedule gaps and focus on development. We spent a lot more time than usual to develop scripted shows based on the observed needs. As a result, we successfully introduced 21 brand shows last year. It all comes down to the quality of ideas, especially for scripted formats such as the truthfulness of the characters. We have strong relationships with key writing and producing talents but also, our customers are assured with our proven track records. We work closely with the local creative talent to develop the stories as we can challenge each other to explore different perspectives. Our responsibility is to share our technical and editorial expertise to provide care to the producers and rely on our global partners to translate the ideas to resonate with their countries. Translating to find the pathway to localise and safeguarding the essence of the story is one of the key factors of success.
Q5. What are the effects of the growing number of OTT and the shift in consumption channel on the production and global sales of formats?
A: The streamers found the success of traditional linear broadcasters from releasing a limited number of episodes per week instead of dropping the whole season at once. Depending on the nature of the format, they adapt different releasing patterns. For example, an edgy drama with cliff hangers would attract more viewers to watch the next episode compared to a competition reality show with repetitive theme and format. Moreover, there’s an opportunity for a format sales point of view, as we can help the streamers to provide original content quickly by adapting format to reduce developing time exponentially. On the other hand, innovative ideas of the traditional broadcasters come from consumption observations from the streamers.
Q6. What do you think about the Korean content format such as having a specific number of episodes set from the beginning?
A: In general, Korean content always has a strong background and the world is starting to notice it in a much more meaningful way. Such evolution is very exciting to witness. Scripted content development is almost simultaneously followed by production and that’s where the 16 episode art works. It allows a good amount of time to develop an idea or a theme that people can follow through. For us, Korea is the regional leader and our growing market for sophisticated script adaptation. We would like to build on the success of “The World of Married” and actively seek out new creative talents and projects.
Q7. Several formats have been re-made in Korea. What are the considerations you take into account when you’re working with the BBC original works?
A: The BBC brand stands for quality, so it is important to be committed and engaged with partners. Understanding the intention of what you’re trying to achieve, and the big picture is very important when it comes to collaboration. Then, when you start looking into the details, you can remember what you’re trying to work towards. If you’re willing to work with us, you can come to us and openly tell us what is important to you. We are always open to listening about it as well as sharing what is important to us.
Q8. What qualities do the partners possess for you? What kind of potential collaboration do you hope for Asian media companies?
A: We are grateful that we have global partners that choose us, and it is very important for us to connect. Ultimately, the quality to me is openness, having collaborative vision, sharing and being willing to challenge themselves. Successful local adaptations always come out from open conversations and exchanges of ideas to deliver the core DNA of the format while ensuring it is delivered in a localised way. Whatever people want to do, I am open to have a discussion with them. It’s our responsibility to share the expertise but it’s not enough to nuance the story to the local market. Fortunately, we already have great relationships, and we would like to continue growing them with more fresh and compelling stories to the market across Asia. I would also like to work with local and global streamers and see what we can do with the formats. Our message should resonate with Asian audiences to fully represent our shows.
Q9. Do you see any major trend/story/content people are drawn to?
A: I would cite integrity, honesty and truth. If you look at “The World of the Married '', people are gripped to it because of infidelity and women empowerment features of the show. In the perspective of the UK, things like the environment is a longer-term trend. Environment themed programs can’t come this year due to devel
opment and catching up with the schedule blocked out from last year. Overall, the longer term trend will be family co-viewing contents based on integrity, honesty and environment but there will always be room for other things too.
Q10. We are entering into this new era of re-building and cooperating in different ways. Has that changed the way you connect with your partners? How did you adapt?
A: When the pandemic first began in the UK, as an organisation, we first talked about how to support the customers. However, I think we didn’t have a big change because we were functioning that way originally. The sales or commercial arms are about being consultative. Of course, there were some practical things we had to do like being flexible with the schedule.
This session provides internal insights of BBC studio’s global format strategy. Applying BBC Studio’s format, which has been successful over the past years, comes from open and collaborative synergies that BBC Studio intends to initiate. It values different and fresh ideas and opinions to develop the quality of the content format, especially resonating with the local culture.