Peacock is doubling down on true-crime content and global co-productions, while NBC will develop more limited series in the vein of Renée Zellweger’s upcoming drama The Thing About Pam.
Those were some of the key scripted takeaways from Susan Rovner’s session at the Edinburgh TV Festival, one of her first major public speaking appearances since becoming Chairman, Entertainment Content, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming last year.
On Peacock, Rovner revealed that it was increasingly getting into global co-productions on the scripted side.
The streamer has previously announced international co-productions including The Undeclared War, the Mark Rylance and Simon Pegg-fronted drama written by Peter Kosminsky and produced by Colin Callender’s Playground with Channel 4, and Wolf Like Me, a genre-bending romantic comedy starring Josh Gad and Isla Fisher with Australian streamer Stan.
The former Warner Bros exec (left) told Deadline that it was also involved in two more series Irreverent and Last Light.
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Irreverent comes from NBCUniversal International Studios’ Matchbox Pictures, as revealed by Deadline earlier today. The ten-part drama that follows a criminal on the run from his life of crime back in New York. He hides out in a reef town in Far North Queensland, posing as the new church reverend. Rovner said it was a partnership with Netflix in Australia.
It is also backing Last Light. The series is based on Alex Scarrow’s book, which tells the story of a family fighting to survive in a world that has been suddenly thrown into chaos. It is an MGM International TV Production in association with Nordic Entertainment Group’s streaming service Viaplay.
“We are definitely experimenting with all of it. Obviously, co-productions work great because you can get great content for a reduced price. That is definitely an area [for Peacock]. Because we cover most of the budget, we get a lot of rights, but for the most part we’re concentrating on domestic rights. There is more flexibility,” she said.
Rovner also pointed to more true-crime content for Peacock similar to Dr. Death, the Patrick Macmanus-created series based on the podcast that launched in July. The series stars Joshua Jackson, Grace Gummer, Christian Slater, Alec Baldwin and AnnaSophia Robb.
Rovner said, “True crime seems to be resonating because Dr. Death is doing tremendously so that’s an area we’re doubling down in and trying to find more. For scripted, it’s about passion and vision and something that is going to make noise.”
While she didn’t give specific ratings data, or tease whether the series would return for a second season, she said that they were figuring out how and when to release such information and called it an “evolving” process. “It takes longer to know if something is a hit,” she said. “It’s hard to know when to share data and at what point do you count. We’re such a new service, that it’s going to evolve as we figure out what does the data reveal.”
On the NBC side of things, Rovner said that she’s excited to see if The Thing About Pam works.
The six-part limited series stars two-time Oscar winner Renée Zellweger in her broadcast debut. It is based on the real-life, stranger-than-fiction story behind the 2011 murder of Betsy Faria that was featured on NBC’s Dateline and comes from Blumhouse Television, NBC News Studios and Zellweger’s Big Picture Co.
Rovner said that she’d liked to aim for one limited mini-series per year. “Part of why I’m excited to try this and see if it works is I started my career in TV movies. Network television moved away from event miniseries and streaming and cable jumped in. I would like us to try and do a few. It has to feel like an event, having Renée is cherry on the sundae. We are going to develop more of them, so that is something for people to bring us,” she added.
She reiterated NBC’s plans to move away from the traditional development and pilot season and towards a 52-week a year scheduling mindset. She said that the pilots that it was shooting now including the reboot of Night Court, starring Melissa Rauch and John Larroquette and Demi Lovato food issues comedy Hungry will be in consideration for midseason and the 2022/23 season.
“The challenge is retraining the community because people still are expecting a pilot season and to have that quick turnaround. Everything is evolving,” she added.
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