The Got Talent and The X Factor creator has signed an expanded deal with the company, which includes a new unscripted series for streamer Peacock that he will produce and appear on screen in.
The deal is the latest major talent deal for the company after agreements with the likes of Meghan Trainor and Miley Cyrus.
Susan Rovner, Chairman, Entertainment Content, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming, revealed the deal to Deadline during an Edinburgh TV Festival session. She said that “great talent comes from everywhere” with reference to the Brit format and music impresario.
Cowell returned as a judge for the 16th season of American’s Got Talent earlier this summer
The Syco Entertainment boss, who took the company private at the end of 2020, is also set to star as a judge on NBC’s AGT spin-off AGT: Extreme, which comes from Syco and Fremantle.
Rovner and NBCU didn’t disclose details of the Peacock series but it is a major statement of intent for the digital platform, which has been ramping up its unscripted slate in recent months.
Elsewhere with Cowell, it emerged last month that The X Factor would not be returning to ITV in the UK but he is preparing to front another big-ticket reality competition for the broadcaster: Walk The Line. The show, which is a partnership with ITV Studio’s Lifted Entertainment, is a musical gameshow that combines a talent contest with a gameshow.
It’s understood that Walk The Line does not fall under his new NBCU deal but it’d be a surprise if Cowell wasn’t also working on a U.S. version.
The overarching deal with Cowell is in a similar realm as other recent deals that the company, which has brought together its linear and streaming commissioning under Rovner, has signed in recent months.
For instance, pop star Trainor will be a judge on E!’s Jimmy Fallon-EP-ed music competition series Clash of the Cover Bands, will host a Top Chef spin-off for Peacock and is developing a multi-camera comedy for NBC. “Netflix can’t offer her that. No one else can offer her the breadth and depth [of that deal],” said Rovner.
Rovner added that she has tasked unscripted exec Jenny Groom, who looks after competition formats across NBC, cable networks and streamer Peacock, with taking more risks in the genre.
“I don’t know if The Masked Singer would have fit the NBC brand… but we have to think what is a bit more outrageous that would fit into our world and our filter. It’s about trying some new things and taking some more risks. We have to push people to think of us differently. We’re getting some of it but we want to see more,” she said.
The network is also working on a U.S. version of the Eurovision Song Contest, featuring contestants from all 50 states.
She said that was an example of doing more live, buzzy shows to draw an audience to linear television. “The key to unscripted, the reason it can work on network television is the more we do live, the more you want to see it that night, the more you want to come to it when it is scheduled,” she added.