Minutes after CBS this morning announced that its 2018 Winter Olympics counter-programming stunt Celebrity Big Brother is becoming a regular thing with a Season 2 renewal, NBC unveiled America’s Got Talent: The Champions, an all-star edition of the talent competition.
NBC announced that AGT: The Champions is for winter; CBS did not specify but winter run is very likely.
AGT and Big Bother are the top, long-running broadcast summer reality series that started in the summer and stayed there, unlike shows like American Idol and Survivor that launched in summer and were quickly moved to in-season. (Big Brother tried and extra spring edition in 2008 but that was not repeated)
Big Brother is heading to its 19th summer summer edition, 20th overall. Simon Cowell’s America’s Got Talent, which is summer’s most watched and highly-rated in adults 18-49 TV series, will be back for a thirteenth season.
While airing indistinguishable versions of a reality series in- and off-season may be confusing and dilute the brand, adding a twist to the in-season cycle would help keep the two versions distinct. And the ratings in-roads CBS made with Celebrity Big Brother against NBC’s Winter Olympics showed promise for the strategy.
ABC also aired a celebrity-themed edition of one of its top reality franchises against the Olympics this past winter, The Bachelor Winter Games but I hear the network for now is not planning another celebrity/all-star version for next winter. ABC has Bachelor In Paradise in the summer, which is a de-facto all-star edition of the franchise.
There is always a winter lull on broadcast between the two cycles of The Voice of NBC, Survivor on CBS and Dancing with the Stars on ABC. While ABC has The Bachelor airing there and CBS’ The Amazing Race worked great as a bridge between the two seasons of Survivor this season, many of the broadcast scripted series also are on hiatus, especially dramas, so there is a lot of real estate that would benefit from fresh reality programming over repeats.
Of course celebrity versions of reality series is not anything new — The Apprentice did it successfully, CBS is also doing it with Undercover Boss. Having a “civilian” edition in the summer and a celebrity/all-star in the winter just provides a new wrinkle.