Buying the rights — and the show bibles — is key, said Li Yi, the executive at SMG’s International Channel Shanghai (ICS) in charge of “The Amazing Race: China Rush”.
“Buy the copyright and learn the essence from that. That’s very important,” Li said.
SMG approached Disney, which owns the rights to “The Amazing Race”, last year about producing an English-language China-based franchise for the one-year countdown to this year’s World Expo, Li said.
When it became clear Disney needed longer to negotiate terms, ICS told Disney it would produce a similar 2009 programme, “Shanghai Rush”, as they worked towards a deal for this year.
The two sides eventually worked out a deal and the Disney-licensed version that debuted in August drew an audience three times as big as “Shanghai Rush”, Li said.
Li declined to discuss terms but called it “very reasonable”, with Disney holding the rights to sell the ICS show outside China. Disney saw it as part of a long-term China investment, he added.
The deal brought in Disney’s expert advice on travel planning, adjusting games to contestants’ strengths and maximising suspense, he said.
“One thing was very impressive: they gave the very huge amount of manpower required. That’s very important, so we could see a very big difference between the West and China’s TV industry,” Li said.
The result was ICS’s most expensive programme yet, but also one of its most profitable, as it used the foreign brand name to even attract overseas advertisers.http://www.asiaweeks.net/20101124/486/china-broadcasters-strike-gold-with-foreign-formats.html