The making of an entertainment revolution: How the TV format trade became a global industry
From its humble origins in the 1950s, the TV format industry has become a global trade worth billions of Euros per year. Few viewers are aware that their favourite shows may be local adaptations but formats represent a significant percentage of European broadcasting schedules in access prime time and prime time. Formatted brands exist in all TV genres and reach almost every country in the world. This article defends the thesis that the format business turned into a global industry in the late 1990s. Before this turning point, the few formatted programmes were most likely American game shows that travelled slowly and to a limited number of territories. Following an overview of this early period, this article examines the convergence of factors that created a world format market. These include the emergence of four exceptional formats (Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?, Survivor, Big Brother and Idols), the formation of a programming market, the rise of the independent production sector, and the globalization of information flows within the TV industry.