The Enduring Success of Endemol Shine Italy
BY Yako Molhov
Endemol Shine Italy, part of Banijay, is the oldest independent production company and after close to 40 years of operations remains one of the most successful and prolific TV businesses in the country. The long-running entertainment shows on the linear channels and fresh formats developed and produced for the streaming services are among the most popular ones in Italy, while the prodco also brings several premium drama titles to the local and international markets every year.

CEO Leonardo Pasquinelli talks to Yako Molhov about the company’s enduring success and top productions. He also shared some details on Endemol Shine Italy’s plans in the entertainment and fiction genres.
MasterChef Italia - Tracy Eboigbodin
Leonardo, Endemol Shine Italy, part of Banijay Italy, is one of the biggest independent producers on the Italian market. You took over the leadership from Paolo Bassetti five years ago. How has the company’s business evolved since then?
I returned to Endemol Shine Italy to assume the leadership role at the beginning of 2018 and found a strong and healthy company, with a slate achieving stellar ratings across varied time slots. Over five years, we have worked to strengthen and diversify our productions and enhance our team, with the aim of ensuring high production quality and efficiencies. Furthermore, we have launched new formats on linear TV and focused our attention on the emerging streaming market, producing titles such as Celebrity Hunted and LOL: Last One Laughing for Prime Video, which quickly gained recognition and captured viewers.

What are your company’s most-popular shows?
Of course, I need to start by mentioning the iconic Big Brother, the first reality show ever to be broadcast in Italy. On air for the last 23 years, we have produced both civilian and celebrity versions, with the series currently on air on Canale 5, a mix of the two.

Alongside Big Brother, our portfolio includes other hit shows like Identity for Rai, which consistently dominates ratings during its timeslot, Deal or No Deal, which is back on air after a small hiatus and doing extremely well; and our own locally devised shows such as Next One! Then of course, there is MasterChef Italia, which continues to achieve excellent ratings with a strong fanbase, and exciting streamer projects like LOL: Last One Laughing for Prime Video, amongst others.

Big Brother and the gameshows on Rai 1 - Deal or No Deal and Identity, to name a few of your long-running productions, remain among the most watched shows on Italian TV after so many years on air. How do you explain their success?
The iconic format Big Brother, along with enduring gameshows, Deal or No Deal and Identity, are all outstanding, with gripping twists and unique USPs, and that’s why they are so recognizable and ultimately, successful with audiences.

Additionally, I want to highlight the remarkable ability of our creative teams to constantly adapt and innovate these formats year-on-year. They consistently find ways to refresh and enhance the offerings, continuously considering the strong framework and unique elements of the original version that made these formats global hits in the first place. This not only captivates viewers but also significantly contributes to their enduring success.

Just recently you launched a brand-new format on Rai 2 called Fake Show. Tell us more about the new program which will use artificial intelligence (AI). How was the idea born? Is there international interest for the show?
Fake Show is a fresh, original new IP that recently premiered on Rai 2. It is a comedy show centering around imitations, in which we see a wild and wacky version of Artificial Intelligence “generating” games and challenges for our celebrity guests to play.

In the spirit of innovation, we continue to test out new technologies but with the view that they will never take away from the creative impetus of our talent, who continue to deliver new and original format ideas, while keeping our much-loved global formats on screen each year. I think we would all agree, while AI is a great tool, it will never match the creativity of our people…

What other new projects are you currently working on?
We have some exciting projects in the pipeline with streamers, but regrettably, we can’t share further details at this stage. We’re also working on an adventure reality show, along with some gripping entertaining gameshows.

Big Brother – Alfonso Signorini

Historically, Italy has been a prolific market for scripted productions. What are your plans in this segment?
We are committed to producing one or two premium scripted productions per year across a diverse range of genres and themes and have enjoyed success with series such as The Bride, co-produced with Rai Fiction. Building on our slate, this fall Anima Gemella (Soul Sister) is set to premiere on Canale 5. Produced alongside RTI, it is a captivating four-part series with a stellar cast including stars Daniele Liotti and Chiara Masatalli.

Currently, we are also in the process of developing a new title for a linear platform, and simultaneously are actively engaged in developing tailor-made projects for streamers, with a strategic focus on the international market.

Banijay Italy includes Aurora TV, Banijay Italia, Banijay Studios Italy, Endemol Shine Italy, L’Officina, Atlantis Film & TV, ITV Movie, and 4Friends. What are the synergies between Endemol Shine and the other labels under Banijay Italy?
Being part of such a large and diversified group provides a unique opportunity to optimize various central functions and share best practice, whilst maintaining full creative and commercial autonomy.

What are the latest trends on the Italian TV market? What are Italian broadcasters looking for in terms of content?
Linear broadcasters all look for standout hit formats, with a particular emphasis on securing popular hosts, as this has proven crucial for the success of shows in Italy. At Endemol Shine Italy, we guarantee the best international formats utilizing exceptional talent, and can develop tailor-made adaptations to fit each of the broadcasters.

What about the challenges that Italian producers are facing in recent years? Are broadcasters limiting their content spend or on the contrary?
As we are seeing globally, margins have been squeezed and at the same time there remains a huge demand for shows. As a result, producers have had to work creatively to maintain a balance between production value and driving efficiencies. However, we can tap into our experience and the global network of Banijay.

The increasing prevalence of streaming platforms has opened opportunities for platform agnostic players like us. It is, however, worth noting this comes with its own challenges as they often have stringent policies with regards to rights. Fortunately, we do see that relaxing somewhat across the board.

Endemol Shine and Banijay Italy work a lot with the streaming services in the country, i.e. Amazon Prime Video and Netflix. What have been some of your success stories on the streaming market?
As mentioned earlier, we have been working a lot with Prime Video, with three successful series of Celebrity Hunted and LOL: Last One Laughing. Additionally, our other comedy format, Prova Prova Sa Sa, based on Hat Trick International’s format, Whose Line Is It Anyway?, was recommissioned for a second series on the platform.

Furthermore, in 2024, we have an upcoming project related to LOL: Last One Laughing, LOL Talent Show - Chi fa ridere è dentro, which will see civilians try and impress the A-list jury of comedians to become the 10th contestant on the next season of LOL: Last One Laughing Italy.

As one of the biggest and oldest producers in the country, Endemol Shine Italy has a huge library of content. Are you planning to monetize this in the form of FAST channels, for example?
Indeed, we’re currently in talks with broadcasters to optimize the monetization of the programs we have produced over the years and build it into our wider content strategy.
Leonardo Pasquinelli began his career in television in 1975 as a camera operator, and then went on to become the organizational manager of TVS, broadcaster of news program, Secolo XIX. Later, in 1979, he took responsibility for the GPE ‘80 group-distributed (a Mondadori subsidiary) programming and schedules, and, the following year, he joined Rete 4, where he became its Head of Soft News Production (1982). 

Two years later, he became a producer for Reteitalia (Fininvest group), working across Canale 5, Rete 4, and Italia 1’s entertainment slates and, in 1989, he joined the non-scripted team of Canale 5. Several years later, he moved to RTI and was the television executive of several entertainment shows, as well as a permanent member of the Shows Committee, which set the programming schedule. In 1996, he was appointed Director of RTI Entertainment and, from ‘98 to ‘99, also held the position of Deputy Director of Canale 5. In 2004 he joined Endemol Italia, becoming its Vice President of Operations in 2008, before joining Magnolia in 2014 as CEO. Four years later, after an illustrious career, he returned to Endemol Shine Italy as CEO.
Share this article: