After successfully launching an original game show format with The Wall and an original dancing show format with this summer’s breakout World Of Dance starring Jennifer Lopez, NBC and its growing Universal Television Alternative studio have set their sights on developing a music reality series format. The new series, now in the works, is earmarked for a 2018 launch.
NBC already has the top singing reality series on television, the Emmy-winning The Voice, which is heading into its 13th and 14th cycles this coming season, in addition to hit summer variety series America’s Got Talent, which also features musicians. The network earlier this year kicked the tires of the proposed American Idol revival but did not pursue it when the project got in a bidding war. Instead, NBC Alternative & Reality Group president Paul Telegdy and Uni TV Alternative studio president Meredith Ahr focused their efforts on developing a format they can own, a very lucrative proposition if a format is successful as has been the case with the studio’s The Wall and World Of Dance, both of which have been sold internationally..
“We wanted to make a new show but we very much didn’t want to make a new singing show, we wanted to make a music show,” Telegdy said in an interview with Deadline. “So we’ve been developing that, and development is a science as much as it is art but it is mainly an art.” He gave World Of Dance as an example of “surgically executed” development, production and marketing that resulted in an NBCU-owned competitive format for dances that can travel globally and is a ratings hit on the network.
With the new show, NBC is looking to do for people who love to make music the same it did for dancers with World Of Dance. Telegdy declined to discuss specifics about the new series as they are still being honed in, but noted that it will carry “the NBC reality brand pillars: humor, heart, courage.” It also is expected to incorporate the way music is distributed and consumed these days, migrating from CDs to digital downloads and streaming.
“We’re all in on the music show; we’ve been all in on a new music show to complement what we already have in place, which is a boot camp for singers (The Voice),” he said. “We’re going to have another show that means you can come ready to be any kind of music maker and whatever NBC can do for you, we’re happy to do it. We have no interest in taxing careers of struggling artists, we just want to help them get out there. That’s the philosophical ‘why’ because that’s what the industry has told us they need right now. Yes, singing shows are fun, exciting and big. We have an amazing singing show. We’re intrigued to see what a music show can be.”
The new show originated with The Stream, a Norwegian format NBC and Uni TV Alternative studio picked up last fall from a group of Scandinavian producers. “They ran a very interesting digital and broadcast pilot project for us, a show that I think they would all describe as modestly unsuccessful but yet they learned a lot over in Norway, and we bought that, and are partners with them, we’ve nestled them within our studio relationships.”
While the concept has since evolved significantly as the NBC series is undergoing development, The Stream‘s original premise, as announced by NBC, was to find the next Justin Bieber-size viral music star. It featured aspiring musicians who would upload their videos. The most streamed of them then would perform in front of music industry bigwigs, with each exec eventually signing three artists who compete in a weekly live show, and the contestants’ fate would be decided by the number of streams their performances generate.
NBC launched World Of Dance with Jennifer Lopez attached as star and executive producer from early stages of development. I hear the network and studio have similar plans for the new series, aiming high for artists of the caliber of Beyonce.
“Not yet,” Telegdy said when asked whether there is talent attached to the music show. “There are lots of conversations and nothing yet that is ready to go with,” he said. “But we’ve got existing partners in the music business — coaches and talent and people that have been in our sphere of influence that we know and love and want to continue to work with, and there is a bunch of new people that want to work with us because they see the quality of our work and delivering on promises.”
When the new series launches, would that mean reducing flagship The Voice’s frequency to one cycle a year?
“In the fullness of time and eventually, that may be part of the strategy,” Telegdy said.
“The Voice is an incredible show and other than the fact that it has been nominated for another Emmy, and the fact that it’s beloved and stands so much for this company, it has almost a talisman quality.” That said, “14 seasons in seven years, it’s going to be hard for the creative team to be regenerating itself. I’m looking for a future that may one day contemplate reduce reliance on The Voice,” Telegdy said.
The new NBC series will be one of at least two new entries in the music reality genre slated for 2018, along with the American Idol reboot on ABC. Additionally, Fox is developing a U.S. adaptation of the Armoza singing competition format The Final Four.
Uni TV Alternative studio’s slate includes the series Better Late Than Never, Hollywood Game Night, The Wall, World of Dance and Amy Poehler’s upcoming The Handmade Project.