In the second part of our week-long rundown of the year that was in television, TBI recalls how zombies officially became bigger than Jesus, how the Netherlands’ rap community got in touch with nature and an off-the-cuff remark on Breaking Bad that made the collective industry mind boggle
With all eyes on US cable The Walking Dead and The Bible both generated ratings that have redefined what a hit is on US TV. Beating all of the broadcast networks and other cable networks by a comfortable margin, both series regularly delivered twelve million-plus viewers. Perhaps giving The Walking Dead the edge is that it has performed at a consistently high level, hitting its best numbers in its fourth season, while The Bible only stretched to ten episodes.
Another sign both shows were mega hits is that they are becoming franchises. AMC is working on a Walking Dead spin-off, while Mark Burnett has deserted History for NBC for AD, his follow-up to The Bible, and a show he told TBI he wants to run for years. The only other cable show to come near to the numbers of the aforementioned was Duck Dynasty.
A reality/period drama set at the time of the birth of Christianity and following a family of duck hunters fighting hordes of zombies is reportedly in the works.
2013 IN YOUR WORDS: Matthew Frank, CEO, Zodiak Rights
One of the most exciting events for Zodiak Rights this year was the sale of The Returned to Channel 4 in the UK and Sundance Channel in the USA. Produced by French production company, Haut et Court for Canal + in France, this was the first time in over 20 years that C4 had picked up a foreign language drama. When it launched in the summer it rated extremely well and became the talk of the UK TV industry. Channel 4 took a risk and it paid off handsomely and that success now paves the way for other foreign drama to at least be considered by English speaking territories as it proves it can work
Armoza Formats’ While You Were Sleeping was an excellent off the wall effort, as were The Cleaners and Release the Hounds but ultimately the weirdly wonderful Rappers in the Snow from Absolutely Independent took the concept of a noise-making title to another level. It was one of the wackiest ideas of the year too – sending Dutch rappers into the Canadian wilderness in the hope they spiritually awaken and write a song for Greenpeace is certainly the work of one madcap development room. See the results for yourself…
Barbie Brazil is not a well known name in international format television. Nor does it appear she cares much for it. In July, Barbie (birth name Tembi Ennie Tshabalala), a stripper from South Africa, registered the Real Housewives name and was planned her own local version of the hit US reality series.
One problem: Real Housewives rights owner NBCUniversal International had already optioned the format to another South African producer and had never even heard of our Barbie. No bother – her manager Lelo Bikitsh suddenly revealed himself as an expert in international format law, telling TBI: “It is impossible to patent a format, simply because it is not new and neither is it unique.” NBCUI disagreed and Barbie’s Housewives have seemingly gone into hiding.
2013 IN YOUR WORDS: Danny Fenton, CEO Zig Zag Productions
2013 was a magical year for Zig Zag – literally. We lost one magician and found another. Some would say that was careless… I would say that’s just magic! Somehow magic became cool again and we were in the right place at the right time and now have three magic shows and a YouTube magic channel launching. What is it they say about buses?
TBI Towers couldn’t look past the press release that hit our inboxes in November informing us Lady Gaga was to duet with Kermit the Frog in a Thanksgiving special on ABC in the US and Channel 5 in the UK. Throw in Kristen Bell, Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Elton John for good measure and we were sold on a sea of celebrity strangeness.
The promo for ITV4’s Release the Hounds from Sony-backed Gogglebox Entertainment was every bit as bonkers as the concept itself (three unsuspecting contestants are sent to a series of genuinely terrifying games in a seemingly deserted forest, all in the name of a cash prize). Think we need to man up and stop the crying? Erm, no. Judge for yourself:
If you’re not already hidden behind your office desk/Google ThinkSpace Area, watch this clip from the official ITV2 YouTube page:
The main auditorium at MIPCOM was packed to see the DreamWorks founder Jeffrey Katzenberg pontificate upon the past, present and future of the content business. The opening comments were accompanied by a section in which Katzenberg had a chat with Donkey from Shrek, in a segment made especially for the Cannes keynote.
However, what really grabbed the headlines was Katzenberg’s casual observation he had offered the producers of Breaking Bad US$75 million to make an additional three episodes of the show. He then planned to release the new content in six minute episodes released daily and, according to Katzenberg’s calculations, that would have recouped between US$178 and US$237 million. The producers said no (Katzenberg reached for a dictionary to see what ‘no’ meant) – but the off the cuff anecdote reveals that when a billionaire media mogul is a fan of a show he doesn’t buy the boxset on Amazon and maybe a t-shirt… he writes out a multi-million dollar cheque.