NBC Readies 'The Voice' for Spring Season, Sources Say
Keeping all the judges and coaches in place is another matter. Go inside the plan for NBC's biggest (non-sports) show
Ratings for "The Voice" dwarf every other show on the NBC schedule with the exception of "Sunday Night Football." The two programs lifted NBC out the cellar to put the network in a third-place tie with ABC.
Obviously, NBC can't extend the National Football League season, but it can install "The Voice" as the first singing competition with fall and spring editions. NBC won't officially say "The Voice" is going to a full year, but several individuals connected to show say the plan for a spring edition is a go. Executive producer Mark Burnett says he's prepared to expand the show's run, even if it means losing some of the judges/coaches associated with the program. One insider expects two of the four current coaches to take a break after this fall's edition.
"Here's the fact we decided: When you've been on this show, that's your chair for life," Burnett says. "So if they have to tour and someone comes in for a season and then goes out for a season, comes back for a season, there will never be anyone getting replaced, ever.
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"It's going to be moving pieces all the time. And luckily maybe a couple of them go on tour, a couple of them don't go on tour," Burnett adds, saying it's his nightmare. "They have an obligation to their fans. And so that's how we're going to do it."
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At the media event, Levine was particularly effusive about the effect of the new elements: "It's a brilliant piece of TV." There lies the rub: "The Voice" has built its average per-show audience of 15.8 million viewers, according to Nielsen, by delivering compelling stories and performances. It hasn't resulted in the creation of a star, which one upcoming change may affect: All of the singers will appear weekly during the live rounds, easily doubling the amount of airtime they receive. Previous winners Jermaine Paul and Javier Colon had only five performances each in the competition, the same number as the three runners-up.
"We can provide a certain amount of insurance that this person will get some kind of shot at success," Levine said. "There's no way to guarantee or to ensure that that will happen... We're not their manager, we're not their record label. We can't micromanage everything that happens after their run on the show. We would love to see a star born out of this show. We're positive that it will happen, but we're not hinging the validity or the relevance of the show on that because that's just ridiculous. That's just not a reasonable expectation."
Republic, the Universal Music Group label that hands the winner a contract and an advance of $100,000, is eyeing a November/December release from Paul, who was crowned the winner in early May. Runner-up Juliet Simms and teenage country singer RaeLynn, who got the boot in the quarterfinals, will have singles on Republic labels at about the same time.
Last season's fourth-place finisher, the classically trained pop specialist Chris Mann, will be the first out of the gate with a release on Oct. 30 on Faircraft/Republic. The collection is seven covers and four originals.
"We didn't waste any time," Mann said about his move to the studio after the show. "My goal was not to get as much publishing as I could, but to sing the 11 best songs I could find-songs I love and songs that I wrote."
All eight of the show's finalists in the first two seasons fit a particular profile: recording artists who have been signed to label deals, toured and recorded but never quite clicked with a national audience. Mann sees that as a strength for "The Voice." "For 12 years I've been trying to make a record, and this is the result of being ready."