NBC is having a good TV season — so long as its ratings engorged reality series “The Voice” is on its schedule. When “The Voice” is not on its schedule — not so much.
What’s a network to do?
Enter “The Voice Kids.”
The producers of the franchise recently issued casting calls for New York, Los Angeles and Dallas, letting the cat out of the bag, in re a juvenile version of the network’s season-salvaging singing competition.
Unlike earlier attempts to clone successful singing competitions, using prepubescent divas and their stage moms this one’s already had the kinks worked out and is succeeding, ratings-wise, in several other countries, noted the New York Post, which first reported the casting calls.
Remember, “The Voice” is a Dutch format, and NBC purchased U.S. broadcast rights to the format after losing a bidding war to land Simon Cowell’s “The X Factor.”
In the fall, when NBC had two nights of “The Voice” on its schedule (and Sunday NFL football), the network made a miraculous ratings comeback, from its usual mired-in-fourth-place status, to first among broadcast networks.
Among 18-to-49-year-olds, the Monday edition of “The Voice” is currently the No. 2 entertainment series on the Big 4 broadcast networks this season, behind only CBS’s “Big Bang Theory.”
That edition ended in mid-December and, until the latest edition debuted last month, NBC sank back to mired-in status.
The return of “The Voice” in March has boosted NBC back into the primetime pack, after running a distant No. 4 for most of the singing competition’s break. For the week of April 1-7, NBC tied Fox for No. 2 among 18-to-49-year-olds who are the currency of the network’s primetime entertainment ad sales.
Cloning a singing show with a kiddie edition is not a new concept.
Fox tried a kiddie version of “American Idol” in the summer of ’03. “American Juniors” set out to find, not a single winner, but a singing group of five.
It became one of the highest rated TV shows of that summer — about 12 million tuned in to the debut, which is about 2 million more people than had caught the unveiling of the very first “American Idol” season.
That 12 million also was ever so slightly bigger an audience than NBC bagged with that year’s March debut of an “America’s Most Talented Kids” show.
“American Juniors’s” ratings had plunged by 40 percent toward the end of July, though producers insisted they were satisfied with the show’s strong teen audience, and a second season was planned for the fall of ’03. But that got postponed to the summer after the third season of “American Idol,” and then canceled altogether.
The winning made-by-TV group American Juniors made a brief appearance on the “American Idol” Christmas special in December of ’03, and their debut album dropped in October of ’04. They disbanded in ’05.
(On the bright side, the show gave us Lucy Hale, more famous for her work in “Pretty Little Liars,” and sisters Tori and Taylor Thompson, who went on to compete as a duet in — NBC’s “The Voice,” on Cee Lo Green’s team.)