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Contests, adventures, dating and true crime: Popular TV around the world

The MIPCOM television content market highlights international trends on the small screen

Clip from 'La caza: nada es lo que parece' ('The Hunt: Nothing Is What It Seems'),
Clip from 'La caza: nada es lo que parece' ('The Hunt: Nothing Is What It Seems'),

Every October, MIPCOM, the world’s largest international television content market, is held in Cannes. It is a large program fair where much of the entertainment industry meets to buy and sell formats. This year, over 11,000 participants from more than 100 countries around the world gathered between October 16 and 19. At MIPCOM, one can see where television trends are going, what is succeeding abroad and where the industry is headed.

The Wit consulting firm is responsible for some of the most outstanding presentations, reviewing the entertainment formats it considers the most groundbreaking and promising fictional TV trends. Virginia Mousseler, the president and co-founder of The Wit, began her talk on entertainment formats with a quote from French YouTuber Squeezie: “On YouTube, people are looking for formats that you could see on TV 10 years ago, but in a new, more authentic version. We are replacing television, which has become too timid.” Judging by what happened on Twitch last week, with the return of Un, dos, tres [One, Two, Three] in a version that combined personalities from the classic show with current influencers, Squeezie is not far off the mark.

The Wit highlights the recent appeal of formats like The Traitors, Love Island and Cash Cab, a quiz show aboard a taxi. The company also notes the great interest in The Floor, Password, La isla de las tentaciones [Temptation Island] and Destination X, in which contestants get on a bus without knowing where they are going and have to guess where they are by marking the place on a map. Spain has been one of the main importers of these formats in the last six months.

One of the new shows of note mentioned in the presentation is ETB2′s adventure reality show La caza: nada es lo que parece (The Hunt: Nothing Is What It Seems), which stood out for its innovation. Co-produced by Secuoya Studios and Grupo Proyección and hosted by Juanma López Iturriaga, the program premiered in Spain at the end of September. The show involves 24 adventurers and, in addition to the classic tests of adventure contests, introduces the extra element of a game of hidden identities: although it seems to be two teams competing, in reality there is a third group, unknown to the rest, made up of eight infiltrators on the two teams whose objective is to win the competition and not be discovered along the way.

The Content Innovation Awards, organized by the publication Television Business International, were also presented at MICOM to recognize the past year’s best television productions. There were several Spanish productions among the finalists. Los argonautas y la moneda de oro (The Argonauts and the Gold Coin) stood out in the category of best live-action children’s drama. Bosé and Motel Valkirias were nominated for best new non-English-language fiction series. And Time Zone was selected as one of the year’s best new releases.

In the Diversify TV Awards, which also took place at MIPCOM, the Spanish show Nights in Tefía won for best LGTBIQA+ representation in a script. Fácil was among the finalists in the representation of disability in a fiction show category.

Trends in Spanish fictional shows

Thrillers and crime shows are increasingly popular, with a particular boom in procedurals and stories based on novels. Literary adaptations have been a constant in recent years. Television is already looking for stories even beyond the novel (in comics, essays...) and is looking at trilogies to have more material to adapt. Shows based on real stories and characters are another important trend. Beyond fictional series, the documentary genre—which seeks new forms of narration closer to fiction and abandons the single-episode documentary model in favor of the docuseries—is experiencing a boom.

In the fictional television arena, The Wit highlighted true crime-based stories and science fiction as two of the top global trends over the past six months. Specifically, according to this consulting firm, true crime has grown by 39% in recent months. The titles they discussed related to this trend included the British shows The Reckoning and The Long Shadow, the French Sambre and French Roulette, the Swedish-Finnish Estonia, and the Argentine Buenos Chicos [Good Kids].

A presentation by the consulting firm Geca at Iberseries & Platino Industria, which focused on Spanish-language series, also addressed upcoming trends in fictional television shows. In addition to highlighting last season’s increase in production, with substantial growth in miniseries and dramas, the presentation highlighted genres like horror and the supernatural, comedy—with particular focus on the combination of drama and comedy (dramedy)—and drama that deals with personal and family stories, especially among female and young characters. Melodrama is also reinventing itself for the times and is one of the genres in which the streaming platforms have shown special interest.

Thrillers and crime shows are increasingly popular, with a particular boom in procedurals and stories based on novels. Literary adaptations have been a constant in recent years. Television is already looking for stories even beyond the novel (in comics, essays...) and is looking at trilogies to have more material to adapt. Shows based on real stories and characters are another important trend. Byond fictional series, the documentary genre—which seeks new forms of narration closer to fiction and abandons the single-episode documentary model in favor of the docuseries—is experiencing a boom.

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