MIPTV: Star China Takes Korean Format 'Infinite Challenge'

Shanghai Skyline H 2014

The MBC format sees a team of comedians facing creative challenges that are often silly or absurd.

Star China has bought the Korean variety entertainment format Infinite Challenge from Korea's MBC in the latest move by the Shanghai-based company to boost its arsenal of TV formats.

Infinite Challenge is a weekly Korean variety program, distributed and syndicated by MBC, described as the first "real variety" show on Korean TV.

In the largely unscripted comedy show, six comedians make up a team that faces various creative challenges, which are often silly, absurd or impossible to achieve, making it as much a satirical program as a reality or contest format.

"We are confident that this unique show will be a hit in China. We have a strong history of creating and producing the country’s top-rated formats, such as The Voice of China and Sing My Song, and look forward to taking Infinite Challenge to that level," said Vivian Yin, chief representative of Star China and vp of Starry Productions.

Last weekend, Infinite Challenge was showcased at the 5th annual MIPFormats conference in Cannes.

The show is the top free-to-air television program in South Korea on Saturday evening, and it's also been the most viewed non-drama program in South Korea every week, excluding special sporting events, since Nov. 2006, with the exception of January 2009 and April and May 2010. It has kept the same time slot since first airing in 2005.

Rupert Murdoch's 21st Century Fox sold its 47 percent stake in Star China TV, which runs three Chinese-language television channels, to the company's management team and private equity fund China Media Capital in January 2014.

Its three channels cover the Chinese-speaking audience across Hong Kong, Macau and Southeast Asia. Its top-rated shows include The Voice of China, China’s Got Talent, Amazing Chinese and So You Think You Can Dance. In 2014, Star China created, and CCTV 3 aired, the first original, native Chinese format, Sing My Song, with a total season viewership of  480 million and a total viewer share of 37 percent in China.

Murdoch reduced Fox's holding in Star China from a controlling stake back in 2010 after struggling to gain traction in the Chinese market due to the highly regulated nature of the media business and multiple barriers to entry for foreign companies.

Twitter: @cliffordcoonan