After airing twice a year since 2012, NBC has decided to scale back The Voice to only one installment during the 2021-2022 season. On the eve of the Upfronts, an annual event in which the networks present their new shows and schedules for the following season, NBC has kicked everything off by releasing its fall schedule, which includes a mix of new and returning shows. A bunch of competition and game shows are being planned for mid-season.
The Voice debuted in the spring of 2011 with coaches Blake Shelton, Adam Levine, Christina Aguilera and CeeLo Green. NBC only aired one season of the singing competition series that year. But starting in 2012, the network doubled up by airing two seasons every single year. After sticking with the same lineup of coaches for the first three installments, multiple celebrities have come and gone from the big red chairs, including Shakira, Usher, Gwen Stefani, Pharrell Williams, Miley Cyrus, Alicia Keys and Jennifer Hudson. The current lineup is Shelton, Kelly Clarkson, John Legend and Nick Jonas. Next season, Ariana Grande is joining the panel, replacing Jonas.
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Along with releasing its fall schedule, NBC also announced that The Voice will only air once during the 2021-2022 season. In a statement to news outlets (as reported by THR), NBCUniversal’s Frances Berwick said, “We want to eventize this iconic series. The best way to protect the brand while super-serving fans is to produce one amazing cycle this season.” Once again, The Voice will air on Mondays and Tuesdays. NBC tends to use The Voice as a launching pad for new scripted shows, which will continue to be the case next season.
“Protecting the brand” is an interesting phrase to use as to why NBC is scaling back on The Voice. There are various reasons that could have led to this decision. THR notes that ratings are down 25% in the 18-49 demo, so “protecting the brand” could be referring to viewership. Airing two seasons a year is a big commitment for fans, especially right now with a very fractured TV landscape. Dancing With The Stars did that for many years before eventually decreasing to just one. One of the smartest decision FOX ever made with American Idol was only airing it once a year. It became a massive event that everyone had to see in the winter/spring. Part of that was diluted when FOX launched The X Factor, meaning they had two singing competition shows for a few years.
Since there are multiple unscripted series planned for mid-season, NBC will likely use The Voice‘s usual timeslots for one of those projects. America’s Got Talent spin-off AGT: Extreme and Eurovision-inspired American Song Contest seem like the most obvious choices. If these shows end up failing, NBC could always go back to airing The Voice twice a year.
This new schedule will also free up time for some of The Voice celebrity coaches like Shelton, Clarkson and Legend who take part in every single season. NBC won’t have to shell out as much money for them to stick around either. So “protecting the brand” can also pertain to the network’s budget and how much they’re willing to spend when there are fewer and fewer fans tuning in. These coaches aren’t cheap to hire, after all. By scaling back, fans may end up remembering the winners and finalists after each season ends, and maybe producers can actually spend some time promoting and marketing their artists. It could end up being a win-win across the board.
The Voice airs Mondays and Tuesdays at 8pm on NBC.
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