“American Idol” creator Simon Fuller is bringing “Shame” to TV. Fuller’s XIX Entertainment has inked a deal with Norwegian broadcaster NRK for the rights to the format for teen-centric series “Skam” (“Shame,” in English), and XIX will be developing an English-language version of the show for American and Canadian audiences.
“There is precious little content created primarily for a teen audience and ‘Shame’ provides this with great honesty and integrity,” Fuller said. “This show packs a punch and is leading the way in exploring multi-platform story telling.” The show follows a group of 16-year-old girls in Oslo as they navigate the increasingly complex social waters of secondary school. The series, entering its fourth season in Norway, doesn’t shy away from tackling subjects like date rape, sexual abuse, and binge drinking.
The Norwegian format is unlike anything that’s been attempted for American audiences: Chunks of episodes are produced on a daily basis and distributed via the internet (primarily watched on mobile devices), then packaged together at the end of the week, running online and broadcasting on NRK3 — a true mobile-first approach. That’s because the target audience of “Skam” is girls aged 16-19, a cohort that spends many of its waking hours online, and most of that time on mobile devices. Consequently, “Skam” is a big hit online, drawing around 200,000 viewers per episode; 1.26 million people are tuning in on TV every week, out of a population of 5 million.
But NRK had previously encountered some difficulty selling the format to international distributors, according to Norwegian English news source the Local, citing concerns over the risqué content.
If the scenario feels familiar, that’s because the U.K.’s edgy teen dramedy “Skins” had a similar journey. MTV ordered an American version of the series that was dogged by critiques of its portrayals of teen sexuality and party culture, despite MTV’s toning down of the controversial content. The American series was canceled after one season.
Fuller hasn’t revealed whether the American version of “Skam” will follow the exact same mobile-first format, but a spokesperson for XIX said Fuller will be working closely with NRK to duplicate the “essence” of the original production.
“A lot of people in the TV industry have got their eyes on ‘Skam’ this fall,” said NRK’s head of youth TV Haaokn but no one has got a vision as Simon Fuller. He wants to be true to the original idea and make ”Shame” a series that can change the rules in the American TV market. We´re honored he wants to take “our baby” to the next international level.”