TBI’s forward thinkers: Fremantle’s Vasha Wallace

Vasha Wallace, EVP of global acquisitions & development, Fremantle

Streamers started dipping their toes into the format business last year, how do you think this will change in 2020?
We are going to see the streamers continue to grow and go from being US-based platforms to becoming more local platforms with a focus on local markets. This means we’ll see them commission more local programming. What we know and what we’ve seen is that local audiences respond better to local programming. Local audiences want to see local faces on screen, speaking their language. This is the beauty of formats, as they can be globally renowned but become local. We will continue to see more of this in 2020.

How are business models for format development changing and what will happen over the next 12 months?
Format development will continue to be hugely important with a rigorous approach to idea creation that ensures the ideas are the best they can be for our audiences. What our clients want to see is formats that work in their market. More than ever, the development process proves to be vital.

How is the entry of streamers into the format world affecting business models?
From my perspective, the entry of streamers gives us an opportunity to develop and produce even more formats for our broadcasters and platforms alike. We are seeing that the healthy, active commissioning models out there mean that our clients are wanting more tried and tested formats as well as new ideas.

Five Guys A Week

What breakout format trend are we going to see emerge this year?
What we have seen in the last 12 months and what we will see continue into 2020, is a genuine, strong appetite for dating shows. Our biggest new reality-dating format is the brilliant Five Guys a Week. It is created by the fantastic team at Label1 for Channel 4 in the UK. It is a hugely exciting, unique, fresh, relevant and authentic dating show that transforms the first-date experience into the ultimate test of romance and compatibility, whilst putting the woman in control.

We are also seeing a continued appetite for gameshow formats and expect to see this continue into 2020. The reason gameshows have been so successful and will continue to travel is that they deliver absolute value for money for broadcasters, because you can commission high volume and they are hugely promotable. Most importantly, audiences really love them. Gameshows also tend to have broad family appeal which we know is hugely important to our broadcasters and advertisers. As an audience, we love the play along factor, which is hugely important with gameshows.

Epic Gameshow

We are especially excited about the launch of our newest gameshow from Fremantle’s Talkback for ITV (UK), Epic Gameshow. We’ve taken some of our biggest gameshows such as Price is Right, Strike it Rich, Card Sharks, added in a marquee talent presenter in Alan Carr and given each show an epic new ending. The look and feel of our iconic formats have been totally refreshed, creating fantastic event-viewing that can work on any schedule.

Which country is going to become known for its format exports in 2020?
If you look at where formats are coming from, interestingly, the UK is still the format leader and creating more traveling formats that any other country. However, I feel very strongly that a good format can come from anywhere.

What show has most impressed you over the past 12 months and which format outside of Fremantle’s offerings do you think will succeed over the next year?
The Greatest Dancer from Thames (part of Fremantle) and Syco Entertainment for BBC One did phenomenally well when it launched back in primetime in January 2019. It follows a whole host of talent from every genre of dance as they give the performance of their lives in the search for the country’s Greatest Dancer. It is a really fantastic and modern format, I went to watch it being filmed and it was so exciting to see as you don’t know who the audience is going to put through and the power is in their hands. I am very excited about seeing the new season launch in 2020. We will also be seeing a Danish version launching in 2020.

Another format that I’ve been very impressed by is The Masked Singer. It’s exciting on a number of levels as people said that there were no more big global travelling formats and that is simply not true. The Masked Singer has shown us that there is absolutely room for more big global formats to travel. For us in the industry, it is incredibly exciting and shows that there is a lot of appetite for these types of shows. I think the reason for its success is because it’s a guessing game, similar to Game of Talents, audiences are constantly guessing who is singing behind the mask.

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