Fox is looking at the Emerald Isle for its next big format hit. The company’s production division Fox Alternative Entertainment has been road-testing non-scripted entertainment series The Big Deal in Ireland as part of an experiment that it hopes will help unearth a global format hit.
The six-part series features variety acts performing for the judges, with each offered a deal to either accept a cash payment or bet on themselves and hope they’ve impressed the judges enough to make it to the final. The series is presented by Vogue Williams and includes celebrity judges such as Boy George.
The show launched last weekend via Virgin Media Television, formerly known as TV3, with 180,000 viewers tuning in on Saturday night, comparable to what The X Factor was averaging in the country.
Rob Wade, President, Alternative Entertainment and Specials, Fox Entertainment told Deadline that it beat all expectations. “We’ll be keeping a close eye on how the format develops there,” he said.
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The idea behind the project, which is a co-production with Dublin’s BiggerStage, is that Fox Alternative Entertainment can fund, and subsequently own the show for the same amount that it could produce a pilot. But as Wade says, the data and learnings are far greater with a show on air rather than a non-TX pilot. It also means not having to spend a large amount on marketing dollars in the U.S. on an unproven idea.
“We’ve been looking at this strategy in other territories that we felt had a similar make up to the US and thought [Ireland] would be a good testing ground for formats. The cost of producing pilots is so high so for a very minimal premium on top of that, the idea that you could create a six-part show, seemed like a lot of business sense, because we’re going to be able to pull a lot more information on that show airing than we ever would from a pilot.”
He said that if the show works it can be brought back to the U.S. for Fox, and the format sold to broadcasters internationally.
“What we’re finding is that it’s much more cost effective,” he said. “We’re building low cost international production capabilities as well. It’s a show that came out of FAE so we’ve been developing it and we wanted to go to pilot on it, so I’m hoping it does well because it’d great for us [in the U.S].”
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