Netflix to Adapt U.K. Reality Series 'The Circle'

The Circle-Screengrab-H 2018
Channel 4/YouTube

Netflix is continuing to expand its unscripted footprint.

The streaming giant is adapting the unscripted U.K. show The Circle, with three new local versions of the social media competition series. The reality series will feature players from three different countries, one of which is the U.S.

The Circle is described as an innovative popularity contest and social experiment inspired by the experience of using social media. The format was created by All3Media’s Studio Lambert and recently co-produced by Studio Lambert and Motion Content Group for the U.K.’s Channel 4, where it launched in September.

On the show, contestants live in separate apartments in a single building and do not meet face-to-face during the competition. They communicate through a special voice-activated social media platform and rate each other frequently. Unpopular players are “blocked” and ultimately the most popular player wins a cash prize. Since they only know each other through their online dialogue and profiles, players can choose whether to present a true or fictional version of themselves. It is a game exploring questions of honesty and trust when people can’t see each other in the flesh.

The Circle has already proven to be a compelling, timely and buzzworthy show,” said Brandon Riegg, Netflix vp unscripted content. “We think the show’s combination of modern social media interaction and competition will captivate Netflix members around the world, in multiple languages, and we’re delighted to partner with Studio Lambert and Motion to produce these three new local versions.”

“Social media has radically changed the way we make friends, conduct relationships, argue and even fall in love,” added Stephen Lambert, CEO of Studio Lambert. “But how truthful are our online identities? The Circle is a thought-provoking and entertaining way of exploring such questions and the chance to make different versions for Netflix’s global audience was irresistible.”

The streamer has been revving up its reality business of late. Just over a month ago at the Edinburgh TV Festival, Netflix unveiled four new unscripted original series that will debut later this year. Since Riegg joined the company in 2016, he has led a renaissance in unscripted programming, ordering second seasons of the unscripted entries Queer Eye, Dope, Drug Lords, Nailed It! and The Toys That Made Us in late March.