There’s been a similar vibe across the past several major television markets that take place here in Cannes twice a year, with everybody looking for the next big tentpole reality format. But at this Mipcom, there is a sense of urgency as the U.S. broadcast networks are in dire need of finding successors for their aging marquee franchises. Since the spring MIPTV, three of the four major networks have seen a change at the top of their unscripted departments as part of the efforts to shake things up in the area. The last big reality format to score big in the U.S., The Voice, came from overseas, as did most of the older big American unscripted franchises, including American Idol and Dancing With The Stars, so unscripted formats from around the world offered at MIPCOM will get attention. Here are a few shows and untapped reality areas that are setting the Croisette abuzz:
There’s big heat on Israel’s talent competition show Rising Star from Keshet, the company behind the format for Showtime’s Homeland. Rising Star incorporates real-time voting by viewers via an app that is fully integrated into the show. Currently airing in Israel, it broke ratings records last week on Keshet Channel 2. The format has already set foot on American soil via a joint venture between Keshet International and the parent company of dick clark prods, which is working on a U.S. adaptation that will be shopped to American networks. But international broadcasters are taking a wait-and-see approach as the show is still in its early rounds in Israel, and Keshet is playing close to the vest with format details. A British exec tells me they’re “asking what happens after the audition phase that makes it different?” The executive points to The Voice, currently airing in the UK and U.S., which dips in viewership once the blind audition stage is over.
Also hot at the moment are space reality series, with not one, but two competing formats. After a decade of unsuccessful attempts by producer Mark Burnett to launch an unscripted series sending contestants into space on Russian spaceships, he teamed with Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic for Space Race, which just landed a series order at NBC, boosting the format’s profile heading into MIPCOM. And then there is Sony Pictures Television’s Milky Way Mission which will send celebrities into the great unknown in partnership with the Netherlands-based Space Expedition Corporation. The show also already has one commission, from Dutch network Nederland 1. Coincidentally, the two formats are hitting the international marketplace just as Alfonso Cuaron’s space odyssey Gravity is taking the box office by storm.
Along with space, I hear gymnastics is possibly tumbling our way to primetime. The BBC is rumored to be readying a celebrity-infused show as is at least one U.S.-based producer. Sports-themed celebrity reality series have not fared well in the U.S. so far, with such entries as Skating With The Stars and most recently, Splash.
In addition to Israel, there are other countries that are looking to join traditional unscripted format hotbeds like the Netherlands and the UK. Few would have expected, for example, that Spain would produce a hit like Your Face Sounds Familiar which was created by Endemol Spain and has been sold in more than 20 countries. Other countries, like Turkey and Argentina, are also being touted as potential places to watch.