Why this London TV Screenings’ theme will be ‘oldies but goodies’

London (Source: AdobeStock)

With buyers flocking to London TV Screenings, we turn to TBI’s resident format expert Siobhan Crawford to reflect on the market and provide her take on the key trend for the next week

It’s that time of year again folks, hold onto your hats, we are kicking things up a gear! London Screenings continue to grow in prominence.

So what should we be thinking about when we land in London? Food (I do). Looking shiny and presentable? Absolutely. And, content? Perhaps, but not as you would expect.

Bob the Builder

The build up to Spring sees people scrambling, looking for ways to get ahead and ultimately survive. We collectively feel the need to bring new offerings, stay relevant, keep our market presence and I relate to this completely; I am exhausting myself staying proactive!

Market expectations are high. As London Screenings (and even MIPTV) approach, people will be bringing out older titles, lower performing titles, paper and piloted titles just to have something to say, to justify their travel and expenses.

And while we should all be utilising our catalogues fully, adding new ‘lower quality’ content just to have something to say is wrong. I have said it before: build brands, quality over quantity. Manage expectations. Make format owners understand the calibre a format needs to get to for launch.

And if we can all just accept now that we are in for a ‘light’ content season then we can agree to calm down and just enjoy!

We will have nice conversations and become more informed, and perhaps buy something unexpected. Or you finally pull the trigger on that paper idea you have in development you have been delaying (ideally with that indie who really needs a good start to the year and who CAN deliver the quality).

The OGs

I want to ask you to dig deep into your industry memory bank and consider what is already in the market. At a time when the groups will be fuelling you with popcorn to keep your butts in the seats for as long as possible in London, consider what already exists.

I know so much of the market feels a resistance to reboots, but I have a resistance to commissioning new formats that are shit/expensive/rate badly/that already exist in old formats.

I spoke about back catalogues with a friend recently, she said do I remember ‘Superstar Ding Dong’. This was not the format that came to mind first so I did LOL but admittedly it is the right thought. Catalogues are amazing! They have so much in them.

So, I asked those lovely London ‘international’ TV peeps to name their favourite older formats and boy did we get answers (finders fees will apply if you lot start recommissioning!):

  • 10 Years Younger
  • Pants Off Dance Off
  • The Photo
  • Wives with Knives
  • Don’t Tell the Bride
  • Man O Man
  • Tool Academy
  • Supersize Superskinny
  • Faking It
  • Bridalplasty
Evolve or revolt

IP is mostly controlled by the groups. It’s a bummer but this truth is like an iceberg: their reach goes far into the archives of TV history, way beyond our view, to the obscure and unknown. Entire catalogues.

I don’t know when enough will ever be enough. But I do believe it has to change: right now commissioners are low risk – meaning they want content that is tested and they want the lowest risk prodco, which ‘apparently’ means group companies.

The indies struggling to survive cannot get the commissions because they cannot access enough tested shows. The groups keep bringing back the same shows each market but in 2.0 version, leaving others in catalogues. Big question: is it time to unlock the catalogues to save the ecosystem?

Put an end to ‘perpetuity’, catalogue deals and exclusive partnerships? Remember ‘co-operation’ was the word of 2023. No man is an island, no group can be one either …is it time to start discussing how to use the content you have or let someone else try? #lovemeorletmego

Go forth, enjoy the merriment of London in all it’s wet glory and expense….I have a feeling this Spring is defrosting a few conversations that have long stayed frozen in Formatland. Let the MIPTV countdown begin.

Siobhan Crawford is co- founder of Glow Media and has worked in the format business for almost two decades at firms including DRG, Zodiak, Banijay and Primitives

Check out Siobhan Crawford’s recent columns:

Hello from the other side, I must’ve called a thousand times…

Reflecting on the relentless hustle of 2023 & why next year will be better…

TBI Weekly: Reliving the ’90s and the ‘everything that came after’ in Formatland

Opinion: ‘MIPCOM 2023: The One Where We All Got Together & Didn’t Buy Anything’



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