2016 | 9 | TV Formats and Format Research

During the last 15 years format research has grown into a notable, distinct field of academic investigation alongside the dramatic expansion of the trade in TV formats.
This special issue of VIEW builds on existing format scholarship to deepen our understanding of the history and the continuing growth of the TV format business from a European perspective.
Co-edited by John Ellis, Andrea Esser, and Juan Francisco Gutiérrez Lozano

Recent Submissions

Now showing 1 - 10 of 10
  • Article
    Aesthetic Proximity: The Role of Stylistic Programme Elements in Format Localisation
    van Keulen, Jolien (2016-08-01)
    Implications of the transnationalisation of television are often studied by focusing on the localisation of the content of formatted programmes. Although television is essentially an audio-visual medium, little attention has been paid to the aesthetic aspects of television texts in relation to transnationalisation and formatting. Transnationalisation of production practices, such as through formatting, implies a transnational aesthetic. At the same time, aspects of style are specific to place, culture or audience. In this article, the localisation of stylistic programme elements is explored using a comparison of two reality format adaptations. It is argued that style plays an important role in the expression of the local in a transnational industry.
  • Article
    Critically Acclaimed and Cancelled: FX's The Bridge, Channel as Brand and the Adaptation of Scripted TV Formats
    Wayne, Michael L. (2016-08-01)
    This article uses The Bridge (FX, 2013–2014), an adaptation of the Danish-Swedish series Broen/Bron (SVT1/DR1, 2011-), to explore the ways in which the brand identities of channels shape the adaptation process for scripted television formats. By situating The Bridge in the broader context of FX’s effort to maintain a coherent brand identity, the author argues that producers were not attempting to repurpose Broen/Bron’s narrative for the American audience. Rather, the network wanted to provide its traditionally young and masculine audience with another ‘muscular’ crime series while appealing to additional demographics in the hopes of expanding the channel’s overall viewership.
  • Article
    Ellis, John; Esser, Andrea; Gutiérrez Lozano, Juan Francisco (2016-08-01)
    The history of television programmes sold internationally for local adaptation—today commonly referred to as ‘TV formats’ in both industry and academia—can be traced back to the 1950s.
  • Article
    Measuring Transnationalism: Comparing TV Formats using Digital Tools
    Larkey, Edward; Digeon, Landry; Er, Ibrahim (2016-08-01)
    This article elucidates a typology for cross-culturally comparing different versions of television formats. Digital tools are used to derive quantitative data based on temporal parameters of episode or genre of the narrative structure, content, and sequencing. Type one, which we also call “transposed narratives,” retains the narrative structure and sequencing while extending and expanding the narrative structure to readjust to longer broadcast times. Type two, which we call ‘transmutated narratives,’ re-distributes and re-organizes the narrative structure and sequencing to adjust to both extended broadcast time and other culturally relevant proximity issues. Type three adaptations display genre structure similarities while narrative structure, sequencing and content diverge. These we call ‘derived narratives.’
  • Article
    Meet the Predators: The Branding Practices Behind Dragons’ Den, Shark Tank, and Höhle der Löwen
    Baumann, Sabine; Rohn, Ulrike (2016-08-01)
    The TV industry has traditionally relied on advertising and subscription fees for revenue. Recently, brand extensions and co-branding strategies have been rediscovered as income sources. A prominent example of such a strategy is the TV format Dragons’ Den, which has been locally produced in many different countries. We use this intriguing case to explore the extensive and intricate co-branding relationships and brand extensions in the business-to-consumer and the business-to-business settings of TV companies. Our paper analyses global adaptations and cultural branding of Dragons’ Den; in particular, brand extensions and co-branding strategies.
  • Article
    Remembering Operación Triunfo: A Latin Music Reality Show in the Era of Talent Shows
    Savini, Paola (2016-08-01)
    The music format Operación Triunfo (2001–2011), which aired on RTVE for the first time in 2001, started as a television (TV) and musical success in Spain and today is one of the most famous shows around the world as well as an incredible socio-economic phenomenon in Spanish TV. This paper describes the format concept and results. Both commercial and social aspects are introduced to understand why, after 15 years, it is remembered with nostalgia and remains a shining example of a good communication project and a perfect balance between the global and the local, despite the lack of great success in the following years in Spain and abroad.
  • Article
    Rising Star: A Game-Changing Format in a Dying Genre: The Highs and Lows of a Format's Birth
    Schiffmann, Merav (2016-08-01)
    In the TV industry everyone is constantly searching for ‘the next big hit.’ For a brief moment in time, Rising Star perfectly fit this description. Within days of the Israeli launch of the first season, the format had already sold internationally to major territories. Rising Star boasted a first of its kind audience participation and a real-time live experience. This caught the attention of producers, executives and creators everywhere. This was a game-changing concept, set to shake the genre of reality singing competition shows to the core.The case study discussed in this paper examines the creation stages of a transmedia television format, the strains effecting its development, its rapid global roll-out and the international adaptations, primarily the failure on the US market and its negative ripple effect.
  • Article
    Television Format as Cultural Negotiation: Studying Format Appropriation through a Synthesizing Approach
    Keinonen, Heidi (2016-08-01)
    Despite the growing number of publications on television formats, specific theorisations regarding formats and format adaptation, in particular, are still rare. In this article, I introduce a synthesizing approach for studying format appropriation. Drawing on format study, media industry research and structuration theory, I suggest that television formats should be understood and studied as a process of cultural negotiation in which global influences and local elements amalgamate on various levels of television culture (i.e., production, text, and reception); every level includes several sites of symbolic or actual negotiation. These sites emerge in the duality of structure and human agency.
  • Article
    Transforming 'Female' Programmes: Don’t Tell the Bride from International TV to Italian Digital Channels for Women
    Penati, Cecilia (2016-08-01)
    Contemporary Italian digital channels explicitly targeting women (such as Real Time, Lei, Fox Life, La5, and La7d) represent a privileged observatory for some general trends in the international circulation of content and incorporation of foreign formats into national television (TV). In fact, their schedules rely heavily on the genre of factual entertainment, which was first devised and used in international contexts, such as the UK and the US, and only in the second phase was imported into other national TV environments.After introducing this scenario and the main issues connected to the circulation of international content on these channels, the article will focus on the BBC docu-reality Don’t Tell the Bride. The show was extensively circulated (UK and US versions) in the circuit of Italian women channels before a national version was produced by the pay-TV brand Lei. The article will reflect on how the national version Non ditelo alla sposa added further shades to the original meaning of the format. While the international version only allowed the Italian audience to engage with the programme through a romantic and escapist approach, the local adaptation inserted practical advice in the storytelling on how to arrange a low budget yet traditional wedding day, coupled with the sarcastic and ironic points of view of the characters involved.
  • Article
    Will the Sun Rise? Japan’s Limited Role in the Global Format Business
    Murakoshi, Takeshi (2016-08-01)
    This article illustrates the TV format business in Japan, which has a 60-year history of TV broadcasting and is the second biggest market in the world; however, it is still a small player in the business. The article examines the elements which prevent the international sale of more TV formats and suggests possible solutions. To meet the objectives, this study presents the following research: 1) a questionnaire to ask TV content buyers about the problems and strong points of Japanese TV formats, 2) semi-structured interviews with Japanese TV format sellers via email, 3) semi-structured interviews with TV format experts, and 4) archival research. As a result, this study found that the elements that prevent Japan from developing the TV format business include their unique presentation style in light entertainment shows, called ‘variety show style’, an inability to adjust this structure to the international market, and traditional Japanese-styled business practices. As possible solutions, this article suggests 1) introducing flying producers, 2) changing the business structure, 3) buying foreign TV formats, and 4) taking risks.