POWER MOVE: On the heels of the Olympics, the fall season of “The Voice” made gains and launched songs onto the Billboard Hot 100.
THE RUNDOWN: During the past two TV seasons, Robert Greenblatt has programmed NBC using popular music as a driving force. “The Voice” turned a corner in its first fall run, generating hits for contestants while also serving as a solid platform for fourth-quarter releases from established stars. In “Smash,” NBC created a scripted show that attracted 6.8 million viewers for the first season, according to Nielsen; generated weekly releases of singles; and, in early February, spawned a second soundtrack through Columbia.
“Any time you can ‘event-ize’ music—and ‘The Voice,’ ‘Smash,’ the Grammys and ‘American Idol’ make an event out of music—it helps cut through the clutter,” says Greenblatt, a former Showtime TV executive who entered the Broadway scene in 2009 as a producer of “9 to 5: The Musical.” Booking powerhouse divas for “Smash” and “The Voice” was part of the event strategy: “Having talent like Jennifer Hudson and Christina Aguilera clearly helps, too.”
Sony releases songs from “Smash” while Republic handles releases from “The Voice.” Now in its third season, performances from “The Voice” cracked the Billboard Hot 100 and Hot Digital Songs charts for the first time late last year.
“It really benefited from being on the heels of the Olympics,” Greenblatt says, “and, on the third time around, we were more forensic with the format and found a genuine star in the winner, Cassadee Pope.” With new mentors Usher and Shakira taking over for popular judges Aguilera and Cee Lo Green in March, “there will be a new element of unpredictability.”
NBC’s current development slate includes several music offerings that could follow in the footsteps of “The Voice” and “Smash.” A children’s version of “The Voice” is on tap, and other shows are “percolating” on the scripted front. At Christmas, NBC will air a live staged version of “The Sound of Music,” and the cancelled a cappella competition “The Sing-Off” might make a holiday-season return.