NBC is developing a U.S. version of The Underdog, the Truman Show-style guessing game format that sees social media influencers compete in a popularity contest alongside one person without an online following.
STV Studios and NBCUniversal have struck a series development deal for the format, which will see the latter develop a version for NBC.
Created by STV Studios label Primal Media and co-owned by GroupM, The Underdog, which is being made in the UK for E4 under the working title Alan Must Win, sees a cast of conventionally popular contestants – all with big online followings and a knack for influencing people – compete in a popularity contest. In amongst the group is an underdog that no one is expecting, an ordinary person with almost zero online followers, who is unfazed about trying to be the most popular. None of the cast, including the underdog, know that a group made up of reality stars are living next door and controlling the game by setting tasks, introducing format twists and using all that they’ve learned about reality shows to make sure the underdog wins. Producers have compared the format to beloved Jim Carrey-starrer The Truman Show.
The series was shopped at Mipcom Cannes by distributor All3Media International and featured in Deadline Hot Ones, with the NBC development deal now becoming the first international sale for the format.
Toby Gorman, President of Universal Television Alternative Studios (UTAS), called The Underdog a “unique reality format that really lends itself to adaptation for the U.S. market,” adding that the STV partnership “cements our ambitions at Universal Studio Group to partner with some of the best content creators on shows with global scale and appeal.”
STV’s Josephine Brassey added: “Primal Media have created another truly genius format, which puts a unique new spin on the reality genre.”
The U.S. rights were secured by Gorman and Ed Havard, SVP, Unscripted Programming, Universal International Studios (UIS) for development at NBC led by Corie Henson. Both UTAS and UIS are divisions of Universal Studio Group. The deal was brokered on the STV Studios side by Creative Director of International Development, Brassey, and Commercial Director, Camilla Cope, who recently joined the team as part of STV Studios’ acquisition of Greenbird Media.