Although developing countries are often considered to have weaker systems of intellectual property rights, in the formats trading world, emerging television economies are better at observing format rules. They are at the early stages of television development and do not shy away from buying successful television properties and pay for technical know-how to grow faster than their local competitors. They also do not want to alienate large format and television players in the world television market. Still, some format industry players view emerging economies with an eye of suspicion – linking ironically the status of IP rights regime with successful protection of formats.
“Emerging economies are better at observing format rules – they are happy to buy successful television properties and pay for technical know-how to grow fast and not alienate any players in the market – especially big ones such as Fremantle. Unusual territories which have worked well for us have included Khazakstan, Vietnam and China.” [SVP, Major Format Developer]
“We are always working on exploiting formats in emerging markets. We have started selling a lot of formats in Russia, Indonesia, etc. In certain territories there are problems to exploitation because our formats are not yet suited to those markets. For example, it is difficult to break into some Asian countries such as Korea and Japan because culturally they respond to different types of formats and have started looking within their own region. In Latin America, telenovelas are still very strong. Hence, Europe is still the most important market for formats.” [EVP, Distribution, Major Format Developer]
“India is really opening up for us and a lot of our formats have been sold into India in the last few years and we are actively looking for how we are going to go back to create a set up in India.” [VP, Format Sales, Major Format Developer]
“China has interesting business model for formats trading. The business model in China is about receiving a nominal licence fee - which wouldn’t be much of an income but an acknowledgment that our IP does have value - then the sponsors pay for everything. What's left over after paying for production costs is usually a significant amount which can be shared with the format owner partner. In Vietnam we have used major FMCG businesses who are in the territory to wholly fund the production and take the advertising around it by the spot, both the on-air sponsorship as well as off-air, a return for being associated with the biggest brands in the world on TV.” [SVP, Content Partnerships, Major Format Developer]
Format Rights in Emerging Markets
New Media Initiatives
The future of formats is expected to be highly interactive involving more web centric technologies. Already successful attempts have been made to create real time gameshow formats on the web which are open to the general public and give them a chance to play for money.
“Our new media division within the company plans the potential IP of all formats and incubates it in-house before rolling it out. The future of formats exploitation is increasingly being driven by new media initiatives such as mobile platforms, interactive formats, etc.” [VP, New Media, Major Format Developer]