EXCLUSIVE: UK broadcaster Channel 4 is hunting its own Love Island-style stripped reality series as it continues its push to attract younger viewers. I hear that the network is searching for a “Machiavellian” entertainment format for its youth-skewing station E4 and is in talks with a slew of production companies.
The channel has begun talking to UK producers as it searches for a “conversation starter” that would run in primetime for three to four weeks next summer and would appeal to 16-34 year olds.
“We want to find compelling ways for viewers to feel close to the content and to have some degree of influence over what happens. This could be as blunt as a traditional weekly vote, or it could be more subtle or social media based. The viewer influence might be to help create plot twists or to gently affect the narrative. It could even be Machiavellian in nature,” the broadcaster told producers.
E4 is looking for a show with a live event feel that can be have a quick turnaround with social media possibilities. It is open minded as to whether the show features members of the public or celebrities or both as well as the location. “It should feel sexy and aspirational. Relationships are key to our demographic and this is likely to be reflected in some way even if not the main headline idea. What is key to an E4 show is the tone – it needs to make the audience laugh out loud and include some outrage and drama along the way and feel definitively post watershed. However, it should not be spiteful or bullying.”
The process is being lead by Dom Bird, Head of Formats at Channel 4, and is his latest youth-skewing project. Earlier this year, he commissioned Five Star Hotel, a reality series that follows a team of five celebrities as they attempt to deliver five-star service at a boutique Mediterranean hotel, produced by ITV-owned Twofour and Little Gem.
The project, which Channel 4 is hoping will be produced outside of London, is likely to consist of up to 20 episodes and a deal could be worth up to £4M ($5.4M), while the format could be produced in association with Motion Content Group, the Richard Foster-run firm formerly known as GroupM Entertainment that has backed shows such as Channel 4’s winter competition format The Jump and ITV2’s Love Island.
The search comes after the competition between rivals E4 and ITV2 grew this year. The ITV Studios-produced Love Island, which features a group of sexy singletons in a villa in Majorca, was a breakout hit for the digital channel, helping it scoop more young viewers than rival E4 for the first time with around 4.5M viewers per night. However, E4 hit back in October as shows such as Rumpus Media’s All Star Driving School, Monkey’s Made in Chelsea Ibiza (pictured), Lime Pictures’ Celebs Go Dating and Renegade’s Don’t Tell the Bride helped E4 secure its biggest ever monthly audience of 16-34s.
A decision on the show is expected in January 2018.