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Interactive duty

All Against 1 pits the contestant against the TV audience via a mobile app

All Against 1 pits the contestant against the TV audience via a mobile app

Break-out unscripted hits have been thin on the ground in recent times but Banijay Group’s Nordic operation believes it is bucking the trend. Andrew Dickens reports.

Live interactive gameshows have proven tricky ground for international media groups in recent years.

In theory, allowing viewers to engage with a shiny-floor programme via their mobile phone or tablet should go a long way to drive viewership. Yet this hasn’t always been the case.

Take US network NBC, for instance. The broadcaster has admitted its heavily marketed Million Second Quiz, from All3Media America, didn’t live up to its high expectations, despite integrating state-of-the-art technology that allowed viewers to vote in real time.

However, the network rustled up much higher ratings with programming like The Voice and America’s Got Talent, both of which allow viewers to vote for their favourite contestants. NBC will hope it can find similar success with its forthcoming interactive show QuizUp.

Peter Hansen

Peter Hansen

But in Scandinavia, the recently formed Banijay Zodiak Nordic Group claims it has cracked the interactive formula with All Against 1 (aka Alle Mod 1). Billed as a “guessing gameshow,” the show involves a contestant facing the entire audience at home, which plays against them via an app. The programme’s debut season finished airing on Danish pubcaster DR in May with a 52% share, according to Banijay data.

Peter Hansen, Banijay Zodiak Nordic’s chief content officer, claims such viewing figures are “unprecedented” for free-to-air viewing in Denmark, particularly for an unproven format. “We have found a new way of attracting the younger target groups – the children, the 15-25 demographic. They are suddenly watching television again on this show,” he says.

“If you really involve people in a show then they are willing to spend Friday nights at home or with their friends playing it.

“Around 90% of people who were playing along decided to play all the way through the show. Meanwhile, 70% of people watching have downloaded the app. Usually, that figure is between 5% and 10%.”

Hansen believes a “simple idea” is the key to making an interactive show work domestically and internationally. But he’s also aware of the risks in developing such a technical project and is quick to credit DR. “DR1 is very brave and has taken chances again and again,” he says. “It is under the same pressures as BBC1 in the UK and really has to show it is investing in local content.”

This fits in well with Banijay Zodiak Nordic Group’s long-term strategy to put the region on the map with local content. To help achieve this, the firm recently handed new roles to Hansen, formerly chief communications officer at Nordisk Film TV in Denmark, along with his colleague Karoline Spodsberg, who took the position of group chief operating officer.

“We will invest even more in creativity. With joined forces, and together with our innovative and future-oriented clients, we will make sure the Nordics will be a place to look for new, exciting content and formats in the future,” says Hansen.

Hansen predicts that All Against 1, which is set to launch at Mipcom, will make great waves in the international marketplace, adding that interactive gameshow fare is now in “very high demand.”

“Right now, we are in negotiations with TV stations in all the Nordic territories and the format is being pitched heavily worldwide,” he says. “It’s taken a tremendous amount of work to get the bible and pitch ready.”

With scripted dramas stealing the international headlines in recent years, particularly in Scandinavia, Hansen believes gameshow formats will soon have their time again.

He insists producers and broadcasters should continue to develop projects for both linear and SVoD services, adding that US streamer Netflix could soon be a platform to house such shows. “You have to try to find a show that is likely to be a success on SVoD and on linear television at the same time,” he says.

But Hansen also believes that increasing consolidation of the industry will help unscripted formats to penetrate the crowded marketplace through “stronger competition.” He highlights the impact made by Banijay Zodiak Nordic Group’s own umbrella, comprising Nordisk Film TV Denmark, Mastiff Denmark, Jarowskij Sweden, Mastiff Sweden, Mastiff Norway, Nordisk Film TV Norway, Nordisk Film TV Sweden, Banijay Finland, Zodiak Finland, Pineapple, Respirator and Yellow Bird.

“Competition is certainly the best thing to help formats to get on air and do well,” he says. “We have some brands working against each other, and that really works, but sometimes we keep them apart.”

Hansen will be hoping this internal rivalry will help create similar ratings successes down the line.

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