ABC and NBC have had a long-standing competitive spirit between them, being two of the oldest and largest broadcast networks in the USA. Given that both networks found relative success with narrative programming this past fall season (NBC with This is Us and ABC with Designated Survivor) it seems that both are investing their resources in reality, unscripted, competition series. In recent history, ABC has had Dancing with the Stars and The Bachelor, and NBC has had The Voice and America’s Got Talent, which have proven to be top performers for the networks. But it seems the two will now be in direct competition with each other. Last year, NBC announced that they were working on a dancing competition series with Jennifer Lopez, called World of Dance, expected to compete with ABC’s Dancing with the Stars. Now it seems ABC is doing the same, announcing that they have ordered a singing competition series called Boy Band, which will be in competition with NBC’s The Voice.
According to Variety, a 10-episode season has been ordered, and is expected to debut this summer. Hosts and judges have not been chosen, but sources say that ABC is seeking past pop group members. They have not yet specified who they have or will approach, but it can be expected that they will seek out past members of 1990s pop groups such as Backstreet Boys, NSYNC, Spice Girls, and Destiny’s Child. Similar to NBC’s The Voice, these judges will serve as mentors to the singers. The finalists will form a boy band and receive a recording contract at Hollywood Records.There’s no word as to whether girls will be allowed in the competition, but given the show’s title, it seems unlikely.
ABC has had a few other attempts at singing competition series, including Duets in 2012, and Sing Your Face Off and Rising Star in 2014, but all have proved unsuccessful. Duets included judges such as John Legend, Kelly Clarkson, Robin Thicke, and had these judges travel around the country looking for a duet partner to compete with them throughout the season. In Sing Your Face Off, celebrities dressed up like famous singers and sang their songs, which proved to be more awkward than entertaining. Rising Star was a more standard singing competition show, but ABC tried to incorporate the tv audience at home by allowing them to vote via an app. The host was Josh Groban, and music experts included Kesha, Brad Paisley, and Ludacris.
Todd Lubin (The Biggest Loser), Jay Peterson (Lip Sync Battle), Jane Mun (The Sing-Off), and Joel Relampagos (The Biggest Loser) will serve as executive producers for the shows.
Perhaps this new concept will stick and connect with audiences, but we will have to wait and see. Boy Band will hopefully be the one that works for ABC. NBC may have the advantage though, already having The Voice, and announcing last year that they are developing as second singing competition series called The Stream which will focus on social media music stars (no word yet when this series is expected to premiere). But I guess we’ll just have to wait and see if audiences prefer YouTube stars over boy bands.
Stay tuned for more updates on casting of judges/hosts, as well as the premiere date, for ABC’s Boy Band.