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C21 DIGITAL SCREENINGS

Red Arrow Studios International

Programming Profile

Red Arrow’s upward trajectory

25-09-2020

Red Arrow Studios International’s C21 Digital Screenings playlist has an emphasis on entertainment, offering a number of reality and gameshow formats designed to lighten audiences’ moods.

 

More than six months after the Covid-19 pandemic hit, audience appetites for every emerging minutia on the situation are perhaps on the wane.

 

“It feels like now people are keen to take a step back and watch entertaining television in all its forms and genres,” says Tim Gerhartz, senior VP of global sales at Red Arrow Studios International.

 

To this end, the distribution arm of Red Arrow Studios – part of Germany’s ProSiebenSat.1 Media – is coming to market this autumn with a variety of unscripted formats and gameshows that lean towards the light-hearted, while new seasons of existing scripted dramas are returning to production.

 

How to Become Superhuman and Dieting With My Dog are two new formats, the first of which debuted recently on Discovery in Denmark and comes from Married at First Sight creator Snowman Productions.

 

Gerhartz
Tim Gerhartz,
Red Arrow Studios International

Described as an extreme adventure format, the show sees a collection of celebrities, considered successful in their respective fields, put through their paces by three mentors to see what more they can achieve by unlocking the superhuman abilities that are hard-wired in us all.

 

A record-breaking cold temperature endurance specialist plunges them into icy baths and sends them climbing half-naked in a snowstorm to train them in surviving in extreme cold; a world champion free-diver teaches them extraordinary breathing abilities and how to cope in limited-oxygen environments; and a shaolin monk trains them in the powers of the mind and reveals how thinking like a warrior can help with death-defying physical feats.

 

“The idea is that you’ve got people who have succeeded in life and the question we ask on this show is, ‘What more can they achieve?’” says Gerhartz. “We train those people in different physical and psychological tasks in order to prepare them for one ultimate test: climbing up one of the world’s most challenging mountains wearing as little clothing as possible.”

 

Dieting With My Dog
Dieting With My Dog

Dieting With My Dog comes from ProSieben’s Redseven Entertainment and also debuted recently, on the company’s Sat.1 network in Germany. The reality format sees overweight owners and their pudgy pets join forces to lose weight.

 

“The chances are quite high that if a dog owner overeats, their dogs also carry some excess weight,” Gerhartz explains. “So the format has two different elements: it’s an aspirational weight loss show – a genre that still works very well – but it also taps into that special relationship an owner has with their dog.

 

“We put both into a weight-loss program with the help of a fitness expert and a professional dog trainer and they have to lose as much as possible as a team. It’s good reality TV because these dog owners and their pets are fun characters and the relationship between them works very well in terms of drama.”

 

Married at First Sight
Married at First Sight

Reality and unscripted formats have been doing well for Red Arrow Studios International in the past six months, not only being able to return to production more easily than scripted, but also in terms of finished-tape sales and the extension of existing brands that have already proven popular with audiences.

 

Leading the charge is the aforementioned Married at First Sight, created by Snowman Productions, originally for DR1 in Demark but remade in 29 territories including the UK, the US and Australia. Tape sales of the latter versions, for Lifetime and Nine Network respectively, have been among Red Arrow’s best performers in recent months, helping propel the title to 194 territories.

 

“The show has turned into a big brand that commissioners and channels want to extend,” says Gerhartz. “In the US, Lifetime has recently aired Season 11 and has committed to the show for another six seasons. Over the last few years Lifetime has also commissioned a whole bunch of spin-offs, most recently Married at First Sight: CouplesCam and Married at First Sight: Unmatchables.

 

Beat the Channel
Beat the Channel

Lifetime even aired the Australian version of Married at First Sight – something that doesn’t happen too often. Channel 4 in the UK has also aired both the Australian and US versions and is working on extending the show.

 

“It’s a good example of how channels are reacting to the Covid situation: you take what works well and make more out of it.”

 

Elsewhere on the Red Arrow Studios International slate, two gameshows are growing quickly. Beat the Channel, from Florida Entertainment for ProSieben, was named Best Brand-Driven Format and Best Studio-Based Format in the inaugural virtual International Format Awards this summer.

 

Block Out
Block Out

“It’s definitely one of the most successful shows in Germany at the moment,” says Gerhartz. The format sees two TV presenters face off in a competition to win 15 minutes of live airtime where anything goes. Their opponents are the smartest and physically toughest stars from their own channel who they must battle in a series of challenges.

 

Even during lockdown, it was possible to get a fourth season, now on air, into production. “The chances of a recommission look strong,” adds Gerhartz. “And despite the challenges of Covid, we’ve optioned the show to a number of clients internationally.” Companies in France, Spain, Portugal and the Middle East are among the as-yet unnamed buyers.

 

“The reason Beat the Channel does so well is that it really delivers event television for the whole family,” the Red Arrow exec adds. “It’s the kind of show that creates on-fire moments; it’s family co-viewing – a show you must watch at the time it broadcasts, not a day or two after, and for viewers it feels very risky.”

 

Vienna Blood
Vienna Blood

Block Out, meanwhile, is a physical gameshow format developed by Red Arrow Studios together with Japan’s Nippon TV and July/August Productions. It aired first on Channel 7 in Thailand last year. Public broadcasters RTVE in Spain and NPO Zapp in the Netherlands have both launched local versions recently, with the former beginning a run of 70 episodes in daytime on its La 1 network.

 

Block Out sees two teams of four players, each with their backs against a wall, battle it out in a variety of physical games, combining trivia, strategy and chance. The walls behind the teams are built of blocks that push out each time a wrong answer is given, forcing contestants into awkward positions to try to avoid being knocked into the pit below.

 

“Unscripted was one of the first genres to shut down with the pandemic but it was also the first to restart,” Gerhartz observes. “With scripted we also had to postpone productions, but they’re starting again and that’s good news.”

 

Departure
Departure

One such series is Vienna Blood, the period drama from Red Arrow Studios’ Endor Productions and MR Film in Austria. The series is based on the Liebermann novels by Frank Tallis, about a doctor and student of Sigmund Freud who uses his skills of perception and psychology to help a detective with his murder investigations.

 

Commissioning public broadcasters ORF in Austria and ZDF in Germany have ordered a second season, with buyers of the first, including the UK’s BBC2 and PBS in the US, also committing to season two.

 

“We were about to start the production in April but, for obvious reasons, this was not doable. The good news is we are now in production and season two will be delivered in 2021,” says Gerhartz. “The same applies to Departure,” he adds, referring to the Canadian conspiracy thriller, which Red Arrow distributes internationally. Production on season two, which sees Archie Panjabi and Christopher Plummer returning to the series, is underway in Toronto and will be launched in Spring 2021.

 

Dignity
Dignity

Made for Canada’s Global TV by Shaftesbury and Deadpan Pictures in association with Corus Entertainment, season one of Departure has been licensed to the likes of M6 in France and NBCUniversal (NBCU) for channels in the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Poland and Africa, while NBCU streamer Peacock has acquired rights from North American distributor Starlings Television.

 

The launch of Peacock in July followed hot on the heels of WarnerMedia’s HBO Max and Disney+ at a time when stay-at-home orders saw video consumption skyrocket, to the advantage in particular of market leader Netflix. ProSiebenSat.1 Media and Discovery VoD joint venture Joyn in Germany has also been among the beneficiaries.

 

Red Arrow is distributing Joyn’s first original drama, Dignity, a series inspired by the real-life story of a mysterious German sect established by a former Nazi soldier in Chile. It was co-commissioned by Chilean broadcaster Mega, with Chilean prodco Invercine & Wood producing alongside Germany’s Story House Pictures.

 

The Bank Hacker
The Bank Hacker

HBO Nordic picked up pay TV and SVoD rights to the show over the summer for markets including Spain, Portugal, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the Czech Republic, Poland and Hungary. Gerhartz promises news of additional deals soon.

 

De Mensen heist drama The Bank Hacker, for Belgium’s VTM, rounds out the Red Arrow scripted slate. It was recently picked up by ZDF in Germany, which at the same time acquired The Weekly, a 30’ factual, investigative series produced by The New York Times and Red Arrow’s Left/Right for FX and Hulu in the US. SBS Australia, AMC in Spain and Portugal and Asian VoD service iWonder are among the existing buyers internationally.

 

This autumn, Red Arrow will be launching The Weekly: Special Edition, a new collection of standalone, premium documentaries from the same team. Featuring reporting from The New York Times’ award-winning journalists, the series will explore a range of character-driven stories.

 

The Weekly: Special Edition
The Weekly: Special Edition

“After the success of season one, Left/Right and The New York Times have produced a collection of special, hour-long episodes about subjects and stories that will resonate in the US and internationally. ‘They Get Brave’ features doctors and nurses working in New York City who documented their lives during the height of the pandemic, while ‘Hurricane of Fire’ follows people who tried to confront and control the devastating bushfires that engulfed parts of Australia at the beginning of the year,” says Gerhartz.

 

While audience appetites may be leaning towards the light-hearted right now, there is still plenty of demand for such hard-hitting investigative documentaries, he adds, and Red Arrow is selling The Weekly: Special Edition both as a series and as individual one-off premium docs.