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CBS is less than a week away from premiering its new global talent competition TV show, fittingly titled The World's Best. The format of the series is not one that has been done before in any other market or on any other network, and there's no guarantee of success. That said, executive producer Mike Darnell shared some key reasons why The World's Best believes it can compete with the hit America's Got Talent franchise over on NBC, saying this:
What we’ve really accomplished here is we might as well launch into this now. When I was working at Fox and we did Idol, a lot of singing shows came along. A lot. 50, 60, 70; somewhere in that range. Most didn’t work, but they kept trying. But for some reason, America’s Got Talent sort of stood alone, and no one sort of challenged them. Well, for American Idol, along came The Voice. And what did The Voice do? The Voice took a singing contest and added a game show element, which was the spinning chairs. So when I was at Fox, I kept thinking there has to be room for one more variety show. To be honest, while I was there, you know, I was working with Simon Cowell. I didn’t really have the guts to try to compete with AGT at that time. But once I got over to Warner Bros., we started to think about what could we do, when were they vulnerable, and what was our spinning chairs? And that’s the 'Wall of the World.'
Reality competition shows are far from rare on the small screen, and that is largely thanks to American Idol on Fox. Mike Darnell spent 18 years at Fox, becoming President of Alternative Entertainment, and he saw firsthand what the success of a show like Idol could mean.
Mike Darnell didn't leave Fox until 2013, which meant he was at the network for several years after America's Got Talent premiered as a one-of-a-kind variety show back in 2006. While Darnell didn't pursue a variety show of his own while at Fox, he clearly kept it in mind after he moved on to Warner Bros. At Warner Bros., he became a producer on The Voice, which added a twist to the singing competition format started by American Idol and became a huge hit. Can The World's Best become a huge hit as well?
While The Voice certainly was different from American Idol, all signs point toward The World's Best as something almost entirely separate from America's Got Talent. Sure, there are similarities insofar as both variety shows feature competitors with a variety of talents rather than just singers, but the World's Best contestants' fates won't simply lie in the hands of celebrity judges' whims in the beginning stages of competition.
Contestants will be up the "Wall of the World," which is a wall of 50 talent experts from 38 different countries. These experts will evaluate the acts that make it to the airwaves as part of The World's Best. That said, there will be a lineup of famous faces as judges. Drew Barrymore, RuPaul Charles, and Faith Hill will be the faces of the judges, with late night personality James Corden as host.
Mike Darnell went on to explain how the scoring system further separates The World's Best from the likes of America's Got Talent and other competition shows:
And the way the scoring system operates, that adds this great element of drama and movement. And no other of these challenges all the rest of them are three or four judges, 'yes' or 'nos,' and that’s it. This adds a global feel, a new dramatic way of scoring it, and it feels fresh and new. I want to state, for the record, I love NBC. I worked with Paul [Telegdy] and Meredith [Ahr] and Jenny [Salke], and they’re great. We do Game of Games, I do, you know, Little Big Shots, and we do The Voice now, and it’s all great. You know, so it’s not against them or Simon, but it’s a competitive industry. No one is more competitive than NBC, to be quite frank, thus you see why they have America’s Got Talent: Champions on. That was a direct shot at us. That’s okay. We’re ready for the challenge, and I think we’ve got the next new spin on a variety show, and I think it’s going to work.
Contestants on The World's Best do need to impress the panel of celebrity judges, but they also have to really impress the global judges on the Wall of the World. Scoring won't be as straightforward as a few people hitting or not hitting a buzzer. Will it be enough to keep viewers on the edges of their seats, after seeing so much of the same with America's Got Talent?
Mike Darnell's comment that America's Got Talent: The Champions was a direct shot at The World's Best may come as a bit of a surprise, but it does make sense. The Champions season of AGT has brought the best of the best competitors from Got Talent franchise installments all over the world, just as The World's Best prepares to launch its own global talent competition on a rival network.
Given the scale of The World's Best, the new show could conceivably keep up with and even surpass America's Got Talent. It brings some big names to the table, and Mike Darnell revealed that a lot of money went into bringing The World's Best to the small screen. CBS stepped up to make the show big and impressive, and that didn't come cheap.
It's therefore no surprise that CBS is giving The World's Best just about the greatest launch platform that any show could possibly get. The new show will premiere after the Super Bowl, which is a time slot that can result in huge ratings for whatever show is lucky enough to follow. That doesn't necessarily guarantee a show's success in the long run, but it makes for a strong start!
Now, why should you watch The World's Best when there's already talent being showcased on America's Got Talent? World's Best executive producer Alison Holloway weighed in:
Also, you know, yes, talent. But talent that hasn’t performed on our stage. You look at AGT, you look at us. You think what are the differences, right? I think we have a very different voice. We have a very different flavor.
You may be able to find immense talent on both America's Got Talent and The World's Best, but the World's Best stage is so different from AGT's that even identical acts would undoubtedly be showcased differently. The judges on AGT (which could be very different in the not-too-distant future) don't evaluate talent the same way that the judges and Wall of the World will on The World's Best.
See what The World's Best has to offer when it premieres on CBS on Sunday, February 3 after the Super Bowl. If you stick with CBS the whole night, you'll see the Patriots battle the Rams, Maroon 5 playing the halftime show, and all kinds of crazy commercials. For some non-Super Bowl Sunday options, check out our midseason premiere schedule.