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NBC Reality Chiefs Paul Telegdy, Meredith Ahr Talk Summer Reality Franchises’ Big Midseason Move

NBC’s unscripted programming is getting more real estate in 2018-19, and is moving to a fancier neighborhood.

With the unveiling of its new schedule Sunday, the broadcaster revealed a midseason strategy that relies heavily on proven reality hits migrating from summer, with several new, aspiring franchises also getting in-season swings.

The most ambitious move is the addition of “America’s Got Talent: Champions” with host and executive producer Simon Cowell scheduled to air in January and February between cycles of “The Voice.”

“Winter and spring, usually the January-February periods for us do some treading of water, I will say, while ‘The Voice’ is off,” NBC Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt said Sunday on a conference call with reporters. “This year, I’m really thrilled about what we have put together driven by our extraordinary lineup of unscripted shows.”

He added, “We think to have our biggest reality show in the winter is a great move.”

The flagship “America’s Got Talent” will remain a summer staple for the Peacock. NBC alternative programming president Paul Telegdy said that launching a second edition became possible because of flexibility in Cowell’s schedule.

“We’ve wanted to experiment with ‘AGT’ in season,” Telegdy said on the call. “We weren’t ever really able to line the calendar up with key talent and key talent at this time is obviously Simon Cowell. Various exec producers found a way to work it into Simon’s calendar.”

“America’s Got Talent: The Champions” will air on Mondays, where, Greenblatt said, it “will obviously provide great stability.”

Telegdy added, “We’ve now had 15 years of the show on a global basis. There are many acts the U.S. hasn’t seen.” The winter series, he said, will feature, “many of the audience’s past favorites plus champions from around the world.”

With season two of Jennifer Lopez’s competition series “World of Dance” set to premiere this month, NBC announced that season three will debut at midseason in early 2019 after NFL football season ends, airing on Sundays at 8-10 p.m.

“We loved season one,” Greenblatt said, adding that the network is “excited about what that can do in-season next year.”

Also airing at midseason will be game show “Ellen’s Game of Games” from Ellen DeGeneres and athletic comepetition series “The Titan Games” from Dwayne Johnson. The latter show, like “World of Dance,” hails from NBC’s Universal Television Alternative Studio, which launched last year. NBC has been emphasizing the new studio, led by Meredith Ahr under Telegdy, in its alternative-programming decisions, as it looks to launch franchises that can play internationally and prove lucrative for the company.

Speaking to Variety later in the day, Telegdy noted that “in an era of great competition, reality TV shows have a lots of the qualities of the best broadcast stuff. They are broad, they have a lot of live viewing, and a lot of C3 viewing, which is the measurement that sells most advertising.”

Universal Television Alernative Studio was formed, Telegdy said, “because we needed more supply.” Having the studio in place gives NBC greater creative oversight as it looks to build shows that will not just play on NBC, but also in the international market.

“You want to be able to control, and make decisions not just for one market or one territory or one network,” Ahr, president of the studio, told Variety. You want to be able to keep the health of that product and that IP alive for many years. I think the ability to nurture and control and keep safe all of this creative across the lobe is a great luxury to have.

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