Global format players are the new reality powers


Who could have predicted a decade ago that a barely visible nook of the worldwide TV business would today churn out an estimated $7 billion in annual revenue?

The explosion of international reality formats has given rise to a new generation of powerhouses.

FremantleMedia -- which is owned by RTL Group, one of Europe's largest TV players -- controls the worldwide "Idols" format. International vet David Ellender is CEO of FremantleMedia Enterprises, its distribution and licensing division.

Born in the Netherlands, global juggernaut Endemol boasts a library of some 2,200 nonscripted formats, including "Big Brother" -- now on-air in some 36 countries -- and "Deal or No Deal." Ynon Kreiz, co-founder of Fox Kids Europe, is CEO of Endemol Group.

The U.K.'s Granada -- part of ITV Prods. and parent of Granada America -- is one of Europe's leading reality production and distribution companies. Former Fox Broadcasting exec Lee Bartlett is managing director of ITV global content.

Elisabeth Murdoch's Shine Group bought Ben Silverman's Reveille this year to create ShineReveille, a major presence at the international TV markets MIP and MIPCOM, with formats like "The Biggest Loser." The company also represents a big chunk of product from Mark Burnett.

Also out of the U.K., RDF Media was an early innovator in the genre with "Faking It" and "Wife Swap." CEO David Frank founded the company in 1993 after working as a journalist and BBC reporter.

And BBC Worldwide, a power in its own right with "Dancing With the Stars," recently brought Jane Tranter to the U.S. as executive vp programming.

Other major format players include All3Media, a group of production companies from across Europe and the U.S. combined under the leadership of Scottish-born Steve Morrison; and Shed Media Group, founded by Eileen Gallagher a decade ago, includes such producers as Ricochet, Twenty Twenty, Wall to Wall and Outright Distribution.

-- Steve Brennan and Mimi Turner