And, now, Are You Smarter Than a Ten Year-Old? is well on the way to become another national treasure.
A bit presumptuous you might think. Well, consider these points. For a start, Noel Edmonds is one of the hosts, and you gotta love Noel (the other two are former children’s TV presenters, Dick & Dom).
It has a prime slot on not just Sky1, but also Sky2 and Sky3. And Start Licensing and Sky have been busy working on a comprehensive licensing push to really make the most of the show’s popularity.
“Sky are keen to develop licensing to enhance the viewing experience, making the content travel further, help build brand identity and recognition,” explains Start’s MD Ian Downes. “Revenue generation is also an objective – Sky are acquiring and making shows which have a cost attached to them, so any additional revenue streams are welcome.
“I think in the case of Are You Smarter, there was also an expectation from viewers that there would be product. I think in some cases consumers expect to see products and see it as part of their viewing experience – they want to join the programme.”
Licensees already on board include Hasbro (board game/DVD game), Re:creation (card game), Character Options (handheld electronic games), Mindscape (Nintendo DS game), Virgin Books (quiz book), Global Calendars (desk calendar), Bell-Fruit (AWP/SWP machines/games) and RSW International (Christmas crackers).
Downes is aiming to keep the gaming and gifting theme, looking next at gift confectionery, a live version of the show and also promotional applications. Existing items in the line will be refreshed, while Downes believes that the brand is perfect for in and on-pack promotions with question cards and scratch card mechanics.
“Sky are very active in new media, so it is a show that will always feature in areas like mobile telephony and red button gaming. We would expect more activity in this sector.”
One of the main challenges for Downes and his team is ensuring there is enough question content for all licensees, without undermining the show. “We had to create additional content for the Virgin Quiz book, for example, as it was originally available before all episodes had been broadcast, so we didn’t want to use questions from episodes that hadn’t been aired. It is important that product reflects the values of the series.
“Another challenge is ensuring that there is a good style guide. Quiz shows need to be as well designed for licensing as an animated series. As it is a presenter-led show, it is not possible to do international deals with one design, as the presenter changes country by country. This can be tricky, but is at the heart of the success of the show – it is a programme that has been localised to ensure it works at a local level.”
Downes also believes that there is no reason why quiz shows shouldn’t have a long life span, pointing to Millionaire as an example.
“I think there has to be a strong broadcasting commitment, but with the right products and an ongoing support plan there is no reason that quiz shows cannot have a long shelf life. They fit into certain categories naturally and from a licensee point of view can provide a good balance to other properties. They also allow more interactivity in product, are content rich and applicable in non-traditional areas, so there is a big upside for this type of property.”
The Start/Sky relationship seems to be blossoming (the two firms also work together on the licensing programmes for Gladiators and Brainiac), and the industry has reciprocated their obvious enthusiasm for the brands.
So, looking a bit further ahead, what does Downes see for Are You Smarter in five years’ time?
“Hopefully still on air – maybe rechristened Are You Smarter Than a 15 Year-Old?” he jokes. “As series like Brainiac show, Sky are keen to develop long-term programming brands and as things stand Are You Smarter is working really well. Lots of episodes are available and have been made, so the signs are very encouraging for the a long-term brand.”