Game Of Talents’ launch on Fox last week marked an important milestone for a format that is hoping to follow in the footsteps of The Masked Singer. Like its Korean counterpart, the entertainment show hails from a country not exactly known for being a formidable exporter of formats (Spain), and like The Masked Singer, distributor Fremantle hopes success on Fox can propel the show into an elite band of global hits.
The man tasked with making this happen is Rob Clark, Fremantle’s director of global entertainment, who has helped usher Game Of Talents from a Spanish pilot more than two years ago, to the bright lights of Fox on a Wednesday night. Clark’s career is steeped in entertainment hits, from working on iconic series including Wheel of Fortune and Blind Date, to building global juggernauts out of shows including Got Talent and The Apprentice.
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Clark said he was struck early on by Game Of Talents’ ambition to meld a game show with a talent contest, in a format that sees contestants attempting to guess a performers’ hidden talent, based only on their first impressions and a few wily clues. “Our catalog is full of game shows and full of talent shows. If when the door was closed, they were at it, then you have got Game Of Talents. It has the DNA of a variety and game show,” he joked.
Created by Algerino Marroncelli and Mario Briongos, the show launched on Mediaset España’s Cuatro, and by Clark’s telling, it was an “instant hit.” The show has since premiered in Sweden (SVT) and Belgium (VTM), where contestants guessed that nine-year-old Nova was a BMX rider, but she turned out to be the most brilliantly gruff heavy metal singer. It’s a moment that sums up the show’s charm, with expectations being confounded by a performance that just makes you smile.
Further launches will follow in the Netherlands (RTL4) and the UK this year. ITV will broadcast the format in the UK, with former Family Fortunes presenter Vernon Kay hosting. It represents another echo of The Masked Singer, which also broadcasts in Britain on ITV and has garnered audiences of up to 8.6 million. These deals have, of course, been helped by Fox’s interest — and the fact that the network gave the show a plum slot right after The Masked Singer.
Presented by former Masked Singer winner Wayne Brady, the U.S. version is significantly slimmed down from the two-hour Spanish show, but the essence of the format remains intact. There is also a cash prize of $200,000 on the line. Game Of Talents premiered last week with a solid, if not spectacular, audience of 3.1 million viewers in the 18-49 demographic. It helped Fox beat NBC in the demo, but did squander a good chunk of The Masked Singer’s audience.
Speaking to my colleague Peter White last week, Brady explained why he loves the format: “We’ve seen America’s Got Talent, American Idol, and The Voice. We’ve seen every different iteration of it under the sun, but to be able to put talent with game, that’s going to be a game-changer, pardon the pun.”
The twist also plays into the craze for guessing games on TV, which MBC-originated The Masked Singer does so well, but we’re also seeing in other formats that are going global, such as I Can See Your Voice, which also hails from Korea. Fox has debuted and renewed the CJ ENM format, with Ken Jeong hosting, while Fremantle’s UK producers Thames and Naked are adapting the show for the BBC.
Clark said guessing games have been around since the 1950s with What’s My Line? and To Tell the Truth, but explained that there are good reasons why they are resonating with viewers at this particular time.
“This is a cycle, and it’s quite simple to understand why. If you look at the ratings for entertainment programs, which are family-oriented, they’ve gone through the roof over the last year. And that’s really down to the fact that people are having to sit and watch television together as a family,” he said.
“For traditional broadcasters in those key tentpole primetime slots, they’re really looking for shows that will get broad audiences… You don’t have to have any prior knowledge to have a good answer. The kids may not be as good, or they may be better than their parents. When you’re quite young, and you get something right that your parents get wrong, it’s the mega win.”
Game Of Talents continues on Fox tonight at 9PM Eastern time.
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