NBC renews reality trio

'Ref,' 'Win It,' 'Think' return for seconds

NBC picked up a second season of Jerry Seinfeld’s and Lisa Kudrow’s new reality shows on Monday — but another frosh reality show’s renewal meant a whole lot more to the Peacock.

Peacock, like its network brethren, once upon a time produced more of its alternative series. But in recent years, the nets have backed off — and most of the more recent network reality success stories (“American Idol,” “Dancing With the Stars,” “Undercover Boss”) aren’t produced inhouse (even if network execs sometimes serve as defacto producers).

The gamer “Minute to Win It,” which just scored a sophomore greenlight (along with Seinfeld’s “The Marriage Ref” and Kudrow’s “Who Do You Think You Are?”), reps the first inhouse reality production at NBC since Paul Telegdy was named the head of a combined network/studio alternative department at the end of 2008.

NBC Universal has already sold “Minute” format rights to Australia, Germany and Sweden, among major territories.

“Given that it’s a format that we own and distribute around the world, that’s a good piece of business for us,” Telegdy said. “We see it as something that has huge opportunity for upside.”

That’s almost the inverse of what happened in the scripted world, where inhouse productions are now the norm and indie producers are virtually non-existent.

Non-aligned studios Warner Bros. TV (through its Warner Horizon imprint) and Sony Pictures TV have been the most aggressive players among traditional majors — in a field mostly dominated by companies such as FremantleMedia, Endemol and Mark Burnett.

“There’s all sorts of compelling arguments about producing these shows ourselves,” Telegdy said. “Provided that the quality of the material stacks up. It’s a strategic imperative that as we regrow our reality production, we strike a balance between that and the vibrant third-party supplier market.”

“Minute to Win It” was originally targeted for summer, but moved up to midseason after NBC pulled Jay Leno from primetime. Show has averaged a 2.0/6 with adults 18-49 and 6 million viewers on Sundays at 8 p.m. against tough, established reality players: CBS’ “The Amazing Race” and ABC’s “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.”

Peacock also tested a repeat “Minute” last Wednesday, and wound up No. 2 in the hour.

Guy Fieri hosts the show, which pits competitors against each other in various games. “Minute” comes from Universal Media Studios and Friday TV; Craig Plestis, Tim Puntillo, Mattias Olsson and Jock Millgardh are exec producers.

“Minute,” which secured a 10-episode order, will likely wait for midseason next year, as NBC airs “Sunday Night Football” in the fall.

“Minute,” “Ref” and “Who Do You Think You Are?” are not major ratings hits, but all remain useful utility players for NBC, particularly in midseason.

NBC ordered 13 more episodes of “The Marriage Ref” — three of which will air this year, with the other 10 saved for next season. Network also has 10 more segs of “Minute to Win It” in the works, while “Who Do You Think You Are?” now has another eight.

Season to date, “Marriage Ref,” which runs Thursday at 10 p.m. (and which got a strong marketing push off the Winter Olympics), has averaged a 3.0 rating and 8 share among adults 18-49, and averages 7.2 million viewers.

Exec produced by Jerry Seinfeld, “Marriage Ref” follows a panel of celebs and host Tom Papa as they offer up their takes on various marital spats.

“The core premise works,” said Telegdy. “Marriage is a topic that somewhere in there is hitting a nerve.”

Seinfeld, Ellen Rakieten, Nick Emmerson, Jennifer O’Connell, Al Berman, Howard West and Jessica Seinfeld are exec producers. Producers are still tweaking some elements on the show, which started off with some rough critical reviews but has since developed a loyal — and upscale — aud.

Then there’s “Who Do You Think You Are?,” which follows celebs as they learn their personal histories.

“It’s a quality show,” Telegdy said. “It’s nice to see the audience hasn’t punished us for doing something contemplative. It’s thinking man’s or woman’s TV. And we continue to attract interesting casting.”

Show, which will also likely serve as a utility midseason entry, has averaged a 1.6/6 with adults 18-49 and 6.8 million viewers.

That’s not a big number — but that’s also the reality of Friday night. Pickup comes after “Who Do You Think You Are?” won last Friday 8 p.m. in the adults 18-49 demo. NBC also sees the show as a decent companion to “Dateline NBC” on the night.

Wall to Wall Prods. is behind the show, along with Is or Isn’t Ent. Lisa Kudrow exec produces, along with Alex Graham and Dan Bucatinsky. Show is based on a BBC doc series.

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