The good news for formats in Asia is that 2022 marked the first growth in the number of formats commissioned/on-air in five years. But even if volume is up 16%, adaptations in the region remain well down on 2018’s heyday, and while there are wins, these are patchy as the sector reshapes. Malena Amzah looks at the current state of formats in Asia in ContentAsia’s latest Formats Outlook.
Asia’s formats environment largely lurched through 2022, with highlights here and there; some big wins for scripted adaptations; an abundance of innovation as producers and platforms were forced to do a whole lot more with less; much talk and even more wishful thinking about co-developments; the ongoing disappearance of the once-mighty regional linear commissions; and ambitious quests for international super-formats in the vein of "Idol", "Got Talent", "MasterChef" and "Masked Singer".
Compared to 2021, when numbers dropped to seven-year lows, the reality doesn’t look as dismal as it might. And not all formats developers and IP owners were equally hit by budget cuts and streaming shifts.
The Philippines, for instance, had its best formats year in five years in 2022. India, in another example, enjoyed unprecedented activity in drama formats, driven by domestic and global steaming demand.
Out of Japan, Nippon TV’s "Mother" continues to lead Asian scripted formats internationally, with seven adaptations so far, including this month’s premiere of the 13-episode Castilian Spanish version, "Heridas", on free-to-air channel Antena 3 in Spain.
In Malaysia, early audience data analysis indicates that the April debut of episode one of Double Vision’s local version of All3Media International scripted format, "Liar", outperformed Astro Ria’s 9pm slot average across audience groups by a giant margin.
But, even if formats volume in the region is up on 2021, 2022 isn’t going down as a stellar year across the formats board, especially not when compared to Asia’s formats heyday of 2018, when adaptations in the region hit 337. Looking back, even 2019 wasn’t that bad, ending the year with 312 adaptations.
The best news of 2022 is that overall formats activity reversed the annual downward slide that ContentAsia’s Formats Outlook research has tracked since 2019. We counted 200 adaptations commissioned/on air in 18 countries in 2022, up 16% from 172 in 2021. The 200 excludes 25 titles that were announced in 2020/21 but haven’t been made and there’s nothing to indicate that they ever will be.
At 200, this is the first increase in volume in five years.
2022’s adaptations in the region were led by drama with 44 titles, followed by game shows with 41 and singing-related formats with 40.
Singing-related titles included teen/romance series, "Sing Again", the Thai adaptation of CJ ENM Korea’s "Sing Again Hera Gu"; Fremantle’s game show, "Family Feud Mongolia", by StarTV; and ITV Studios’ singing competition, "The Voice Kids Philippines" season five, commissioned by domestic programmer, ABS-CBN.
Cooking-related formats trailed at 21, followed by 16 reality formats, nine fashion/beauty shows, eight dating series, eight talent and six variety titles. Bringing up the rear were three talkshows, two factual adaptations, and two movie remakes.
ContentAsia’s Formats Outlook 2022 shows that, by volume, the region’s formats environment continued to be led by Thailand, Vietnam and India in 2022. The three markets have led rankings for the last five years, from 2018 to 2022.
Thailand took top spot in 2022 with 33 titles, followed by Vietnam with 30 and India with 27. In total, the three accounted for 45% of the formats commissioned/on air in Asia in 2022.
Thailand’s best year was 2018, when 70 titles were either commissioned or on air. But it also means the Thai market has plummeted most dramatically, shedding 19 in 2019 to end the year at 51. This dropped to 37 in 2020 and 21 in 2021.
In 2022, Thailand’s most popular genre was drama (13 series), followed by game shows with eight and cooking formats with six. The remaining six were were dating (2), fashion/beauty (2), singing (1) and talent (1) formats.
Vietnam, which has largely held second place for the past five years, came in second in 2022 with 13 game shows of the total 30 titles/seasons commissioned/aired during the year. These included All3Media International’s "Beat the Internet" and two seasons of "Crush Vietnam" (S2 & S3) from NBCUniversal Formats. Both titles were commissioned by Vietnam Television (VTV), which accounted for more than half of the formats greenlit in Vietnam for 2022.
India, at number three on Asia’s formats charts for 2022, continues to be dominated by scripted adaptations. Of the 27 titles, 13 were drama series, with a marked preference for thrillers and crime stories. These included "Gaalivaana" (the Indian adaptation of BBC Studios’ thriller, "One Of Us") and "Duranga – Two Shades of a Lie", adapted from Korea’s "Flower of Evil".
India’s 2022 count excludes six acquisitions announced in 2021 but not yet produced (and with no commitment to a production time line). Five of the six are movie remakes from Philippines’ ABS-CBN Film Productions; rights announced in Oct 2021 by India’s Global One Studios. The titles are "Barcelona: A Love Untold", "Can’t Help Falling in Love", "Crazy Beautiful You", "She’s Dating the Gangster" and "The Hows of Us".
Nine of the 27 adaptations in India in 2022 were reality/social experiment formats from Banijay Rights: "Fear Factor – Khatron Ke Khiladi" S12 and multiple dialect versions of "Big Brother" on Viacom18’s Colors, streaming platform Disney+ Hotstar and channels Star Vijay and Star Maa. The rest of India’s 2022 count involved two talent show formats, one cooking title, one game show and a movie remake.
In the first three months of 2023, India added another four adaptation deals, putting it in line lead the formats board in Asia this year.
The Philippines followed India, Thailand and Vietnam in 2022 with 21 adaptations. Mongolia had 14, Indonesia 14 and Malaysia 10. Korea and Japan had nine each, with Nepal at eight, China at seven, Cambodia and Myanmar at five each, Singapore at four, Sri Lanka at three, and Hong Kong at one. Bangladesh and Taiwan registered none in 2022.
Philippines programmers and producers smashed the country’s records in 2022, going from 14 in 2021 to 21 in 2022. In 2019, the Philippines reported 16 adaptations, up from 2018’s 14.
Singing and game show formats thrived in the Philippines in 2022, with five titles each. These included season two of MBC Korea’s "Masked Singer Pilipinas", commissioned by TV5, and "The Wall Philippines" season two on GMA Network. The game show aired in Aug-Dec 2022 on GMA7. A new season (15x60 mins) of "The Wall Philippines" has been greenlit (platform not disclosed), contributing to Banijay Rights’ position as Asia’s top formats distributor in 2022 with 47 adaptations on its books for the year.
ITV Studios followed with 31 and Fremantle with 17. Korea’s CJ ENM and NBCUniversal Formats had 15 each, BBC Studios had 12 and MBC Korea had nine. They were followed by All3Media International with seven, SBS Korea with six, KBS Korea with five, Fuji TV Japan and Warner Bros Distribution with four titles each and Can’t Stop Media, Paramount Global Content Distribution and Workpoint Group Thailand with three each.
Published in ContentAsia's mip TV/April 2023 magazine