NBCUniversal Doubles Down on Reality in Asia With New Show 'It Girls'
E! network is following up local reality hits 'It Takes Gutz to Be a Gutierrez' and 'Facing Up to Fazura' and plans many more as the region takes to the reality genre.
NBCUniversal's international television division is looking to maintain its hot streak with Keeping Up With the Kardashians-style reality shows in Asia with the launch of It Girls on Monday.
The Manila-set show stars four celebrity friends — former Asia's Next Top Model host Georgina Wilson, actress and artist Solenn Heussaff, socialite Isabelle Daza and celebrity stylist Liz Uy — and follows them through the ups and downs of their invariably glamorous everyday lives.
Where It Girls differs from Keeping Up is that the subjects of the show are all well-established celebrities in their own right rather than unknowns. Combined the four It Girls have 17 million followers on social media.
"We hope to be an inspiration to women and also show that we have normal lives too. It's not all glamor," says Huessaff on the reasons she agreed to take part. Uy hopes to use the show as a platform to increase her profile and work opportunities across the region.
Keeping Up has proved a hugely successful for the E! network in Asia where the original still garners strong ratings and interest from fans across the region. Attempts to roll out localized versions of the format continue apace with It Takes Gutz to Be a Gutierrez (Philippines), the first out of the blocks and now coming up to its fourth season. E! also launched Facing Up to Fazura in Malaysia, again to strong social media interest and encouraging ratings.
Scott MacKenzie, vp channels Asia at NBCUniversal, says localizing familiar reality formats is a winning one and has the added advantage of working well locally and on a pan-regional basis. "Local shows are usually our highest rated. It's usually the Kardashians and whatever is local on a country by country basis," he says.
MacKenzie points to It Takes Gutz getting as strong ratings in countries like Singapore and Malaysia just as it does in the Philippines as proof that the appetite for reality is growing in Asia. "We have a pretty robust slate of localized shows for Diva and Syfy, but E! is the one where we see the most potential as there are so many great Asian celebrities," MacKenzie says.