Sales for 'Singing Bee' hit high note

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The singers may be warbling out of tune in dozens of languages, but it's all sweet music to the creators of variety game format "The Singing Bee," which has notched up foreign versions in some 24 territories prior to a planned sales push at MIPTV, which opens Monday in Cannes.

Though NBC has let the show off its schedule, the global format sales for producers the Gurin Co. and Juma Entertainment have been striking up a slew of production deals around the globe, according to the show's creators and executive producers Phil Gurin and Bob Horowitz.

Territories in which local versions of the show are produced include Australia, Belgium, Chile, China, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Italy, the Middle East, New Zealand, Norway, the Philippines, Russia, Sweden, Spain, the Netherlands and Turkey. (Video clips from some of these productions are available on thr.com.)

Spain's Antena 3 has commissioned an additional 45 episodes following a successful Christmas special version of "Bee," according to Ana Rivas, director of programming for Antena 3, who said that the show serves the broadcaster as family viewing. RAI in Italy also has ordered an extra five episodes for a primetime slot. RTL4 in the Netherlands is producing it as a weekly show as is Sweden's TV 3 ,which airs it in an 8 p.m. slot, according to Thursday's pre-MIPTV announcement by the show's creator-producers.

Overall, the ratings data from local productions that have premiered to date show ratings growth in time slots across the board, the producers added.

"While the basic format remains the same from territory to territory, there are some unique territorial differences. For example, the French version has doubled the number of 'Honeybee dancers,' whereas in the Israeli version, there are none," he added. The show is basically a sing-along in which contestants must accurately remember and sing the lyrics to popular songs. A big element of the show is a female dancing team called the "honeybees."

"We are so excited moving forward with 'Singing Bee' at MIP. It's working in so many different territories, we couldn't be happier," said creator and executive producer Phil Gurin, who added that international product licensing has become a big element of the sales effort, with games, apparel and novelty items being merchandised.
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