Public broadcasters from around the world team to test new formats

Public broadcasters from around the world are joining forces to create a ‘TV Lab’ that will broadcast new format ideas on air before the most popular are commissioned. Each broadcaster will contribute at least one format and can then select the ones that they broadcast from the pool. Thirteen broadcasters have indicated they are interested in joining the Lab, including Germany’s ZDF, the UK’s BBC, Japan’s NHK and Sweden’s SVT.

The public broadcasters joining the Eurovision TV Lab will contribute pilots to a pool, as part of the Eurovision TV Lab Week week in September. The formats can be scripted, entertainment or factual entertainment and all the shows will be broadcast on TV for the first time.

“A lot of producers complain there are not enough opportunities for new formats and a lack of slots for ideas that have not already proved themselves,” says Roek Lips, NPO channel manager and creator of the TV Lab. “We started this to show new format ideas in primetime and also to experiment with ways of having the audience participate – and it has been very well received in the Netherlands.”

Formats are presented at pilot stage and the audience votes on their favourites. Viewers can also interact and vote online using various social media websites and services including Facebook and Twitter. The project originated with Dutch public broadcaster NPO/Nederland 3, which has already run two versions of the Lab. Last year it aired 19 new formats and eight shows were commissioned as a result. Perhaps the best known show to have started out as a Lab pilot is The Bubble, the Israeli-originated format that had its first-ever airing as part of the initiative.

The  project is backed by the European Broadcasting Union (EBU) although the public broadcasters involved are not restricted to those from Europe. The full list of broadcasters that have expressed an interest in being involved is: VRT (Belgium); ZDF (Germany); RTE (Ireland); the BBC (UK); SVT (Sweden); RTV (Slovenia); GBP (Georgia); NHK (Japan); KBS (Korea), SABC (South Africa); TSR (Switzerland); MTV (Hungary) and NPO (the Netherlands).

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