USA Network reality chief Heather Olander has outlined the challenges of launching new adaptations of classic formats as it prepares to reboot The Biggest Loser.
Olander, who is senior vice president, alternative series development and production, USA Network & Syfy, has admitted that there is a challenge to overcome the perception of previous versions of formats but said familiar titles are valuable in a world where it is very hard to launch new unscripted shows.
This comes as The Biggest Loser launches on the cabler on January 28 and follows the reboot of Temptation Island, which aired two seasons in 2019.
“What’s great about both Temptation Island and The Biggest Loser is that they’re both well known formats, The Biggest Loser even more so because it’s had 17 seasons. It does help in the marketplace, where it is very hard to launch new shows, having a built in familiarity with the title. The downside is that there’s a perception coming in of what the old versions might be and both shows have that. Times have changed, both those shows launched over a decade ago. Overcoming those is probably the challenge,” she said.
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Speaking at the Winter TCA press tour, Olander said that it is still looking for original ideas. The network is preparing competition reality format Cannonball from ITV Entertainment and is has docu-series including Straight Up Steve Austin and Chrisley Knows Best.
“In terms of moving forward for USA, it’s not necessary that the shows that we do have existing IP, those just happen to be two big, broad premium titles that we love. We’ll pursue originals as well as if there’s a piece of IP that makes sense for us,” she added.
Health and fitness expert Bob Harper, who appeared on 17 seasons of The Biggest Loser on NBC, will host the reboot, which comes from Endemol Shine North America, in association with Universal Television Alternative Studio.
The new version will feature men and women competing not only to lose weight but to improve their overall well-being. Each episode will feature a team of experts including a trainer, chef and life coach who will help guide the contestants as they embark on the biggest transformations of their lives.
Harper said the show was no longer a “popularity contest”.
“We did want to make a better connection between weight loss and health,” added Olander. “Being thin is great, and fitting into skinny jeans, if that’s what you want, but that’s not the be all and end all.”