The format business: Franchising television content | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 4, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2040-4182
  • E-ISSN: 2040-4190


The new millennium has seen the franchising of television content escalate. The trade in so-called TV formats, like Big Brother or The X Factor, sold internationally for local adaptation, has multiplied. This article aims to illuminate the development of the format trade and the reasons for its acceleration and globalization in the early twenty-first century. It will be argued that franchising has come to play and will continue to play a prominent role in the TV content business: First, because of digital television’s highly competitive, commercial multi-platform ecosystem. Second, because ongoing internationalization and gradual convergence of TV systems globally diminish national barriers of structure and agency; and third, because of the popularity of light entertainment, coupled with formats’ multiple advantages as compared to locally developed programming, specifically TV fiction.


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