[BEHIND TALK] Do You Know “Crazy Korean Format”? Unleashing the Trend of Exporting Korean Formats

6월. 26. 2023

K-content is receiving immense love from global fans. Now, it is making another bold move in the global content market by exporting "formats" instead of broadcasting rights. Among overseas buyers, “K-format” is known as the “Crazy Korean Format” for its novelty and entertainment. Let’s take a closer look at how K-content is being localized and recreated around the world. 



“Format exportation” is emerging as a powerful global expansion strategy.

There are two primary approaches when it comes to exporting content to the global market: the sale of broadcasting rights and formats. The sale of broadcasting rights involves granting the rights to broadcast Korean programs on overseas channels, while the sale of formats entails providing the structure and expertise to localize the programs overseas.



Among these approaches, the method that has garnered attention recently is the sale of a “format bible,” which serves as a comprehensive production manual encompassing all the ideas, structures, and expertise associated with the formats. While exporting content to Asian countries that share similar cultures is relatively easy, there is a growing interest in the Western market to export formats that are specifically tailored to local preferences, given the presence of distinct cultural differences. Aligning with the growing trend, in 2015, CJ ENM established a dedicated format team to enhance its format export strategies in the global market. 



“K-format” manages to be both entertaining & popular with its refreshing structure.

Grandpas Over Flowers is the first intellectual property in Korean entertainment history to have its format exported to NBC, a major American television network. The American adaptation, Better Late Than Never, was broadcast during prime time and garnered immense global popularity.


▲Better Late Than Never received significant attention in both Korea and the United States.


Similarly, I Can See Your Voice, a steadily growing popular show in Korea and is currently in its 10th season, has exported its format to 27 countries across Asia, Europe, and the Americas, with an upcoming third season of its American adaptation.


▲The American adaptation of I Can See Your Voice (left) premiered on the American TV channel FOX and the German adaptation (right) aired on the German TV channel RTL.


CJ ENM's diverse intellectual properties, such as The Genius, Youn's Kitchen, and the music-dating fusion show Love at First Song, are receiving requests for broadcasting rights worldwide, reflecting the growing global recognition of K-content. 


Mnet's My Boyfriend is Better won an award at the Asian Academy Creative Awards (AACA) in Singapore and secured format sales to 16 countries. The highly popular Korean show EXchange successfully exported its format to eight European countries, including the UK and Spain.


▲My Boyfriend is Better and Love at First Song received favorable reviews for their fresh format that combines music and dating.


CJ ENM: Leading the Way as Asia's Top Exporter of FormatsAfter exporting the format of I Can See Your Voice, the status of K-formats has risen to new heights. According to the annual report TRACKING THE GIANTS published by UK-based global media consulting firm K7 Media, South Korea was announced as the “Territory of the Year,” and CJ ENM was acknowledged as the leading format exporter in Asia. Furthermore, in the ranking of format exporters in 2021 and 2022, South Korea and the United States achieved a shared third place, demonstrating the formidable influence of the K-format yet again, following closely behind the UK and the Netherlands.


▲CJ ENM was selected as the “Top Exporter of Asian Unscripted Formats” for exporting the most formats in Asia in 2020.


CJ ENM is overcoming cultural differences and laying the groundwork for the globalization of K-content through an effective localization strategy called K-format exportation. CJ ENM has set its sights on the flourishing global OTT market and is dedicated to making its formats more readily accessible to audiences in the near future.



<BEHIND TALK> was produced based on CJ ENM YouTube channel's "Con Ssul Ting."