|The Fashion of TV Show Formats
|Bechtold, S., 2013. The fashion of TV show formats.
|Definitive , Open Access
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|About the Data
|This study uses data from 80 US and EU cases dealing with IP infringement of TV formats, as well as a literature review.
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|Cross Country Study?:
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Over the last years, a vibrant global market for TV show formats has developed. New game show, casting, soap, telenovela, documentary and other formats are sold to broadcasting stations in dozens of countries, leading to a worldwide multi-billion dollar industry. As an analysis of U.S. and European intellectual property law demonstrates, TV show formats are difficult to protect by intellectual property law. Standard theory would predict that in the absence of intellectual property protection, the TV show format industry has insufficient incentives to invest in creative innovation. This article presents a novel theory to explain why the TV show format market is thriving despite a low level of format protection. On the supply side of the industry, demand for TV show formats is hard to predict, return on them is highly skewed, and market participants are both developing original formats and imitating others’ formats. On the demand side, TV show formats are experience goods, and TV viewers sometimes prefer familiar products. As a result, the TV show format market is subject to herding effects on both sides of the market. The interaction of supply-side and demand-side herding leads to fashion cycles in TV show formats. The industry uses the limited protection against format imitation, but has adapted to the fashion cycle. This article tells the story of how an industry has developed institutions enabling it to cope with uncertain demand and unpredictable profitability, while benefiting from limited appropriability of innovation and from the fashion cycles which underlie the innovative process. It demonstrates the great diversity and flexibility of appropriation strategies in a world of limited and uncertain allocation of property rights.
Main Results of the Study
This Article has proposed a novel theory to explain how the TV format industry is able to cope with format imitation beyond the limited degree of format protection. Like other media industries, the TV format industry is characterized by supply-side and demand-side herding effects that lead to fashion cycles, which are limited in duration. Unlike other media industries, the TV format industry has developed mechanisms to cope with this situation, without having to rely too much on format protection. Beyond a core protection against close format imitation, format developers and broadcasters, who are often both innovators and imitators, benefit from a regime of free-format appropriability, as this enables them to allocate profitability risk across the industry and to cope with uncertainty of demand. TV formats go in and out of fashion, and the format industry has developed tools to coordinate and ride the fashion cycle. The key to understanding TV format imitation is the cycle that can make an industry thrive beyond the borders of a weak property regime.
Policy Implications as Stated By Author
Being successful in a market such as the TV Formats market may not require stronger intellectual property protection. Rather, it requires market participants to figure out smart ways to combine protection and imitation strategies.Intellectual property law should be careful not to base its policies on a simple economic account of property rights as a solution to a public goods problem. Rather, it should embrace the great diversity and flexibility of appropriation strategies in a world of limited allocation of property rights.
Coverage of Study
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|1998 to 2013