Global hits of the future will be more about attracting a loyal audience than a large number of viewers, Tim Hincks, president of Endemol, said.
Hincks – whose company is behind some of the world’s most successful shows including Big Brother and The Million Pound Drop – said producers in the digital age could no longer rely simply on the traditional approach of pitching hit programmes to survive.
Growing competition from Youtube and other digital platforms meant Endemol was evolving its business model, and taking more risks in the search for new sources of revenue, he said.
Speaking at the Edinburgh International TV Festival, he said producers had been relatively cosseted: if they had a hit, them could reap significant rewards.
But ‘’if you came up with an idea [for a show] you took it to a broadcaster and – even if it failed – basically you got paid for it,’’ he said.
The digital age mean that broadcaster-funded route to growth was no longer viable.
‘We are now investing our own money in digital content,’ he said.
Hincks said Endemol had recently done a number of deals with young Youtube stars such as Michelle Phan – whose fashion and beauty channel has had more than 1 billion views - as well as established talent such as Pitbull.
The aim was to develop ‘360 degree content – including TV shows’ around the stars in a bid to capitalise on their loyal fan base.
‘Future hits will be more about the loyalty of the audience, and a bit less about the size,’ Hincks said.
Nonetheless, he said there were still opportunities for independent producers in TV.
‘Surround yourself with the cleverest and best people, and create an environment where people feel they can make their dreams happen,’ he said, outlining the recipe for creating hits.
Owning the IP was crucial, he added. ‘And try and come up with something you create in-house, where you don’t have to give anything away.
‘One of the great things about the UK, is that if you have an idea, and you have the means to produce it, you can do very well.’