EXCLUSIVE: Channel 4 has greenlit formats on auctions and dogs in the search for its next Gogglebox-style international smash via the £30M (£37M) two-year Global Format Fund, which has kicked off its third funding round.
Responsibility for the fund has passed from Head of Factual Entertainment Alf Lawrie to Senior Commissioning Editor Vivienne Molokwu, one of the architects of last year’s Black to Front day of programing, who unveiled The Dog Academy and The Greatest Auction to Deadline.
In the former, difficult dogs will be sent to an academy by their desperate owners and a crack team of Britain’s top trainers will help them in dog management skills and dog psychology. The show comes from former Channel 4 Head of Documentaries Nick Mirksy’s Five Mile Films shingle.
Meanwhile, Salvage Hunters producer Curve Media’s The Greatest Auction Takes a competitive, youthful twist on the traditional auction genre by creating a special arena in which auctioneers will hold court as they sell rare items, but the valuation will only be heard by the viewer. The owner must wait till they enter the auction to find out what their item could potentially be worth.
“Both shows feel really warm and they’re in genres we know have an appeal to audiences, both here and internationally,” Molokwu told Deadline. “It’s not just Brits who love dogs and auctions, so we have one eye firmly on the UK market and the other on international.”
The Global Format Fund was forged in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic to seek the next Gogglebox or Come Dine With Me and has ringfenced £30M across two years on shows Channel 4 believes will travel, with Channel 4 taking 50% of international sales compared to the established 20% as detailed by the UK’s terms of trade.
Seven shows have been commissioned so far, of which two, Moneybags and Open House: The Great Sex Experiment, have been recommissioned and started attracting interest from global buyers, according to Molokwu.
A steering group comprised of Molokwu, members of Channel 4’s content strategy and planning teams plus external IP development and distribution experts judges the pitches using various metrics relating to international appeal, before deciding whether to send up to Chief Content Officer Ian Katz for potential greenlight.
Channel 4 has proved it is backing the Global Format Fund’s shows and the UK indie community has responded with positivity, according to Molokwu.
“I hope this gives indies further comfort that we’re actually behind this,” she added, firing the starting gun on the third round of applications. “We’re not going to get it right all the time but commit to increased marketing and open access to our research team to try and get these shows optioned [abroad].”
She shrugged off the notion that Channel 4 is under pressure to prove it can generate global hits amidst the raging privatization debate, which is currently making its way through UK Parliament.
“Our desire to land, nurture and stimulate global hits is not new,” she added.