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Viewpoints from the frontline of content.

Feel-good factor

By Lisa Perrin 06-11-2017

It is a truth universally acknowledged that an audience in the grip of political and economic turmoil – pick a country, any country – must be in want of some brilliantly entertaining TV.

I’m no statistician, fortunately others in the team are, but when good times go bad there is a significant upswing in demand among viewers for TV that is gripping, inclusive, uplifting and leaves you feeling better at the end than it did at the start.

Much as we love it, the same cannot always be said for drama, and what is most notable about the current climate among both producers and broadcasters is a new spirit of adventure in entertainment.

What I have detected, in my role of managing the exchange and development of new ideas and IP across Endemol Shine Group’s companies worldwide, is a renewed interest in and enthusiasm for taking risks in order to find the next big entertainment hit. And underpinning this resurgence is an ever greater appetite for feel-good TV.

I’m not a politician either but we don’t need another ‘Nasty Nigel’ when we’ve already got ‘Donald the Dotard’ and ‘Rocket Man’ dominating the global news agenda.

Singing contest All Together Now

There’s a moment in All Together Now, a UK Endemol Shine Group format, that encapsulates this feeling. It features a range of talented solo artists and groups performing in front of The 100, an audience of great singers with big voices and even bigger opinions. The contestants know they’ve hit the right note when members of The 100 stand up and join in. The bigger the ensemble, the higher the contestants score, all aiming for that magic 100. It’s a genuine ‘hairs on the back of the neck’ moment and hits the feel-good TV sweet spot at a time when – okay, now I am going to sound like a politician – we are all in this together.

The show is being made by Remarkable Television, part of Endemol Shine, for BBC1 in the UK and will air early next year.

Shiny-floor formats are at the heart of this new entertainment boom – shows such as Jennifer Lopez’s World of Dance on NBC in the US, the US$1m talent show in which dancers of all ages compete for the modest title of ‘best in the world’ that is returning for a second season.

But the boom in feel-good, non-scripted formats goes beyond the studio, with shows such as South Korean cultural phenomenon Grandpas Over Flowers, in which four 70-somethings go on a backpacking holiday together, being remade by NBC in the US as Better Late Than Never.

C21’s Formats Report 2017 detected an uptick in demand for non-scripted formats, with gameshows identified by leading industry executives – ahead of factual entertainment and drama – as the genre most likely to be more popular over the coming year.

It will inevitably be a mixture of new and returning formats. In the UK, Dancing on Ice will return to ITV while one of the biggest of them all, The Generation Game, is being reinvented on BBC1 in the hands of former The Great British Bake Off presenters Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins.

The Generation Game is a warm and fuzzy comfort blanket of a show whose multi-generational appeal is built into its very format.

NBC’s Better Late than Never is based on Grandpas Over Flowers

The challenge now for both producers and broadcasters is to find, forgive me, the next generation of shows to earn a place in the schedules alongside these established formats, to become the new ‘heritage’ shows that people are talking about in 20 years time.

Another of the shows on Endemol Shine’s slate is Family Food Fight, in which diverse, multi-generational families go head to head in high-pressure cooking challenges to win an experience of a lifetime and the coveted title, Greatest Food Family.

There’s no shortage of competition – believe me, these families want to win – but at the same time it’s inclusive, warm-hearted and aspirational. It’s television comfort food, from the amazing Endemol Shine Australia team that brought you MasterChef in Australia, done brilliantly and will air on Nine Network.

At a time when families have more screens on which to watch TV than ever before, family-focused event TV is the Holy Grail for commissioners right now, best consumed, like a family meal, in the same room, at the same time as a shared communal experience.

Event TV doesn’t have to be live, although it helps, but what it cannot fail to do is reflect the diverse nature of the audience watching at home, and diversity is central to Family Food Fight, as it is in everything we do today.

Diverse, feel-good, inclusive, event, upbeat – all of these are watchwords as the industry looks towards creating the hit formats of tomorrow. In a world dominated by political and economic uncertainty, the appetite is huge, and so are the opportunities.