MIPTV: The Last Dance - a tribute from the professionals

MIPTV: The Last Dance - a tribute from the professionals
The Last dance: this was the tribute left by a major content distributor at the Majestic Hotel. And this was certainly the prevailing feeling of all the participants. FRIDAY'S ESPRESSO asked two experts for their impressions of the event in general and the MipFormat pitch in particular.

A format-studded farewell to Miptv in Cannes 

Sarah Coursey, SVP International Content, Happy Accidents, reports:

“The global formats community descended on the French Riviera this week for the 61st and final Cannes edition of MipFormats and MipTV. Dubbed by some as the ‘MipTV Funeral’ – but more optimistically by most as ‘The Last Dance’ (I enjoyed the very sweet and simple Global Agency poster outside The Majestic) – nostalgia was at an all-time high.
Market enthusiasm was nevertheless healthy and robust, particularly with regard to South Korea’s evergreen creativity, with MBC’s Bloody Game and Something Special’s Still Alive leading the charge. British and Dutch format producers also created a happy buzz, with BBC One’s adaptation of RTL Netherland’s The Traitors taking the lead. If blue-sky formats optimism was measured by actual participation, you would see a different story, as MipTV’s farewell saw a year-on drop of more than 40% in attendance. But having been on the ground in Cannes for the last week, the business is as creative and vibrant as ever, with new entries in competition reality, studio game, renewed demand for dating and dating-adjacent, and reboots of heritage IP.
Dating shows are at the top of buyer’s lists, but with a twist: now the demand is increasing for dating adjacent, such as “break-up and make-up” relationship reality, and comedy-dating. The new US-based studio Happy Accidents has just acquired LaRue Entertainment’s show True Dating Stories, a hilarious take on real-life dating mishaps and misadventures, retold with reenactments by comedians. Airing on CBC’s streaming platform GEM in Canada, as well as Fuse TV in the US, it is now in its third season. On this, Tyler Massey, SVP Global Content at the studio, said, “Among the trends I’ve been noticing are fun and lighthearted formats with a comedy twist. In that vein, True Dating Stories ticks the boxes. It’s like Drunk History for dating, with the most shocking and ridiculous true-life stories, all brought to life on screen by comedians. It’s a unique mash-up of dating and comedy, highlighting the funniest bits of finding (or not finding) love.”
Dutch producers Concept Street have also cross pollinated dating, this time with social experiment, with their format Sex And the Suburbs. The show got THE WIT’s stamp of approval, and was included in MipTV’s Fresh TV Formats screening. Guilty-pleasure dating reality continues to perform, and the format offers a new arena - suburbia instead of an island. Participants are coupled up and live in a house together, taking on husband and wife challenges, to test compatibility.
Maria Chiara Duranti, founder of FormatBiz and formats expert, quipped: “One of the trends I noticed is the continuing impact of South Korea. I was intrigued by the format presented by CJ ENM, Apartment 404 and along with Still Alive, the mystery reality trend is also exemplified in TV Asahi’s refreshing of the old format Horror House. It has some elements of The Traitors, which is no surprise. K7 Media’s latest tracking report has shown that The Traitors is influencing the international formats market, with adaptations kicking off in nine countries.”
Apartment 404 is the first Korean mystery variety show based on real property-based investigative cases. The format features six residents delving into unprecedented incidents and unexplained encounters that have actually occurred in apartments across South Korea. In each episode, as time flows differently, the residents confront events from various eras and must uncover the home’s secrets. Viewers outside of South Korea can now watch the format on Prime Video, as of February this year.
The Traitors got massive buzz, and it is also unique in its scheduling, following airing thrice a week on the linear channel on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, feeding into catch-up drops on the iPlayer. This programming strategy is a half-nod to Big Brother, Celebrity Big Brother and Love Island All Stars, the ITV juggernauts that air six times per week, and has proven successful for the channel group. Some acquisitions insiders at MIPTV even lamented they are getting too many ‘Traitors-like pitches’, a nod to the format’s popularity. Produced by Studio Lambert for BBC One, the format first launched on RTL 4 Netherlands, with the Dutch title De Verraders. Mark Twain famously said “there is no such thing as original ideas” and I think our industry exemplifies a line you have to walk between inspiration and replication – after the format’s unshakeable success, it’s understandable formats creators are feeling influenced by it.
Perhaps the most mean-streaked competition reality show in the marketplace is Bloody Game, in which 10 players play a survival game while isolated in a mansion. Upon arrival, the contestants must eliminate one player, who must immediately pack their bags and go home. TV2 Norway was the first channel to adapt the South Korean format, with Mastiff Norway producing. It has been called a cross between The Traitors and Celebrity Big Brother.
Nathalie Wogue, SVP Global Formats at Fox Entertainment Global, who also oversaw the MIPFormats program for several years, said, “Big performance shows, studio games that are simple, visual and fun, and reality series with a comedic touch are what most networks are looking for. Beat My Mini Me is the most interesting one in the first category as it also has a unique twist, and feels authentic and feel-good. The Floor leads the second category (studio game), as it’s visual and has a strong arced narrative. The Traitors owns the third (reality series), with its slightly humorist touch.”
Guilherme Barros, Senior Acquisitions Executive at Globo, noted, “It was a great market, even though it’s tough that it will be the last one. I saw a couple interesting formats, and one of my favourites is The A Talks from Can’t Stop Media, an autism-themed talk show. It is a one-of-a-kind emotional and inclusive format, originally from France and already adapted in many countries.” Indeed, BBC One is the latest to get on board in the celebration of neurodiversity, with its version of The Assembly launched last Friday from Michelle Singer and Stu Richard’s Rockerdale Studios.
Heritage IP continues to break through, from the part reboot, part mashup that is the genius format Deal Or No Deal Island, in which the classic game show is relocated to reality TV’s most popular landmass, swapping a studio set for an island. The show’s freshman season premiered on NBC in the US in February of this year.
All in all, this heartfelt adieu to April’s MipFormats and MipTV has been inspiring for the breadth and depth of creativity being created and adapted around the world, with the usual suspects in South Korea, Japan, France, UK and the Netherlands, as well as the US. Format veterans may be poignantly saying goodbye to Cannes in the springtime, but the industry continues to march along at a healthy pace, and most of us will be toasting soon enough at Mipcom in October, with new formats and adaptations to share, and of course a healthy dose of anticipation for MIPLondon in its place in 2025.