NBC is the one of the big three broadcast networks without a massive reality series with contestants living in the game, compared to ABC with the sometimes troublesome Bachelor Nation and CBS with Survivor and Big Brother. That seemed set to change back in March, when news broke that the network was working on a show called Million Dollar Island, which would center on contestants building alliances while living on a desert island to win a cash prize. Now, however, it turns out that Million Dollar Island is no Survivor, as NBC has given it the axe.
In fact, NBC has given Million Dollar Island a very early axe, as Deadline reports that it was still in the casting stage when it was cancelled. No official reason for the cancellation before production even began has been announced at the time of writing, but the outlet further reports that the budget of the series likely factored into the decision. It was expected to premiere either in midseason or summer of next year.
While the budget contributing to the cancellation hasn’t been confirmed, it’s not hard to believe that Million Dollar Island would have a very high price tag. The show would feature 100 contestants who had to plot to stay on a remote desert island for 50 days, and was described by the network as “a high-stakes social experiment.”
While the island setting draws comparisons to CBS’ Survivor, this show wouldn’t have given one winner the whole grand prize. The contestants would compete to win their share of a $1 million prize. They would start the game with a bracelet worth $10,000, and their total would increase and decrease depending on bracelets gained and lost. Whenever somebody left the island, they would give their portion of the $1 million to somebody still in the running.
In a way, Million Dollar Island almost sounds like Big Brother set on a Survivor island, with its own twist on the prize money. Between the sheer number of contestants, the $1 million prize, and the likely challenges of filming a show on a desert island, this sounds like it would have been a very expensive show to produce when it wasn’t a guaranteed ratings win for the network.
Million Dollar Island was based on a Dutch format, and NBC's initial announcement about its development came just weeks before the premiere of American Song Contest as a U.S.-based version of Eurovision Song Contest. Although the new musical competition series received a lot of buzz and had some very big names on board with Kelly Clarkson and Snoop Dogg as competitive co-hosts, it wasn’t a runaway hit in the ratings, and hasn’t been renewed or cancelled yet, more than two months after the grand final in early May.
With the end of Million Dollar Island before it began, NBC still won’t have reality series quite like Survivor, Big Brother, or the various entries in Bachelor Nation with contestants living in the game. That’s not to say that the network has no success stories in reality television, however, as The Voice continues to be a huge hit with each new season, and America’s Got Talent with its golden buzzers is a staple of summer primetime.
Now that Million Dollar Island isn’t moving forward at NBC, the time is right to look ahead to the shows that already have their spots in primetime (including the network’s six of TV’s nine Dick Wolf dramas) in the coming months. Check out our 2022 TV premiere schedule to start planning ahead.
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Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. Resident of One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and Northeast Ohio. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).