'The Voice UK' Gears up for Second Season on BBC
Jessie J th Leave BBC's 'The Voice UK'
LONDON - The Voice UK will return for its second season this Saturday night, with the BBC hoping the singing competition will kick off its sophomore run with similar ratings momentum as the fourth season opener of the U.S. version showed on NBC earlier this week.
Monday's NBC return brought in stronger numbers than the third-season opener. In the U.K., the hit show had launched its first season late last March with 9.44 million viewers and became the BBC’s most successful new entertainment show in over a decade.
Industry watchers will closely monitor the ratings for the second-season opener as The Voice UK will around mid-April once again compete with long-running ITV hit show Britain's Got Talent, which has yet to announce the launch date of its seventh season. Like last year, this is expected to be one of the biggest primetime ratings showdowns in Britain, pitting The Voice coaches Jessie J, will.i.am, Tom Jones and Danny O’Donoghue against BGT judges Simon Cowell, Amanda Holden, Alesha Dixon and comedian David Walliams.
But The Voice UK has tweaked its format with changes similar to the ones seen in the U.S. after season one, meaning that industry observers will pay extra attention to how the competition plays out this year.
Time slots for shows are typically announced just a week or two ahead of time in Britain, meaning it will be interesting to see if the two talent competitions will go head-to-head or just partially overlap. ITV last year pushed back the start time of BGT to avoid too much direct competition.
Last year, The Voice UK made headlines by beating BGT in the ratings several weeks in a row. At its height in late April 2012, The Voice drew 10.7 million viewers, but it lost steam after its early rounds that were seen as having more novelty effect. The finales showed a big audience gap. BGT's average 11.4 million U.K. viewers for the season closer that crowned Ashleigh and her jumping and dancing dog Pudsey its winners compared to 5.6 million for The Voice.
The blind auditions, including the popular swivel chairs, will get more air time on the BBC this season. "The blind auditions proved popular with viewers around the world," said The Voice UK executive producer Moira Ross, who is head of entertainment at production firm Wall to Wall, part of Shed Media, in which Warner Bros. owns a majority stake. "So we had a longer audition process, more people taking part and coaches forming bigger teams of 12 instead of 10. So, there will be more for the viewer to enjoy."
Wall to Wall produces the BBC show with John de Mol’s reality TV powerhouse Talpa Media, which has launched The Voice in more than 50 countries, according to Maarten Meijs, managing director of Talpa International.
"I have never experienced such a fast [international rollout] before," he told THR. "And it has had great success in local markets. In the U.S., it is a game changer for NBC. It's tremendously big. In the U.K. it has great ratings. In France, it is number 1. In Holland, it is, too. And we have gone to second seasons - or more - in all of these. I have never seen a format travel into so many countries in such a short period of time."
Meijs said that Talpa monitors reactions to its global hit formats to allow for show tweaks. Plus, the BBC also compiles internal viewer research.