NBC tuning up singing competition series

A cappella-centric 'Sing Off' likely to be compared to 'Idol'

NBC is launching a singing competition series destined to draw comparisons to Fox's "American Idol."

The project is called "The Sing Off," and it's billed as the first a cappella singing-style reality series.

"This is a fantastic feel-good series that viewers of all ages can enjoy," said Paul Telegdy, executive vp alternative at NBC and Universal Media Studios. "To hear these singing groups re-create a popular song with only the sounds of their voices is truly amazing."

Citing artists such as Justin Timberlake, the network described the show as "bringing modern singing to the forefront of pop culture" with "no lip-syncing, no backup bands, no net."

There's no decision yet when the eight-week series will launch, though presumably it will either bow in summer or fall -- during the "Idol" off-season. The winner will receive a Sony Music recording contract. Judges and host talent have yet to be announced.

Although "Idol" contestants perform with music accompaniment during the Hollywood rounds, during early tryout episodes they also sing a cappella. NBC previously tried to capture some "Idol" magic last summer by moving USA Network's country music singing competition series "Nashville Star" to the broadcast network.

Producing "Sing Off" are Joel Gallen, Outlaw Prods. and Sony Pictures Television, with Gallen also behind MTV performance competition hit "America's Best Dance Crew."

Sony also will be taking the "Sing Off" format to MIPTV this year.