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Bravo is taking audience interaction to a new level with the Aug. 12 premiere of real-time reality series The Singles Project.
The dating docuseries follows a group of New York young professionals while they search for love. But there’s a catch: Episodes are shot the same week they air, which will give viewers a say in how the series unfolds and an opportunity to end up on TV themselves.
Bravo has rolled out an online hub for The Singles Project, where the audience can interact with the series throughout the week. In addition the the standard features — cast bios, behind-the-scenes scoops and other content — the website will also pull social media from all the castmembers into one place so viewers can follow along during and after each episode.
Bravo executive vp digital Lisa Hsia tells The Hollywood Reporter that the goal is to keep the audience interacting with the series even after an episode airs.
“If we are able to take a one-hour show and really make it a weeklong experience, where people want to engage throughout the week, I don’t think that’s really been done in television before,” she says.
Because the show is airing in near real time, the audience will be able to interact with the cast and influence their decisions. Using Bravo’s TV participation platform, Play Live, viewers will have the ability to weigh in during episodes on everything from a couple’s chemistry on a date to what the castmember chose to wear. The morning after an episode airs, Bravo will host a live Twitter Q&A with the cast.
In addition, viewers can upload a “15 Second Flirt” video in the hopes of catching the eye of the Singles Project participants. If someone likes what they see, that audience member could end up on a future episode of the show.
Most of Bravo’s reality shows, including the Real Houswives franchise, shoot several months before they air, making this level of interactivity with fans nearly impossible, Hsia explains. But the stars of The Singles Project will use social media throughout production to tease what will happen in upcoming episodes and ask fans for advice.
Hsia acknowledges that feedback will play a key role.
“On this show, the cast and the viewers will see each episode before they start taping the next episode,” she adds. “They’ll get immediate feedback from viewers and each other to influence how they act.”
Real-time series have become a popular trend in reality television. CBS has long employed the shortened production schedule for competition series Big Brother, and Lifetime sped up the timetable for its Tori Spelling docuseries True Tori. Bravo takes advantage of a speedy production timeline with Top Chef web series Last Chance Kitchen, where eliminated contestants have a chance to redeem themselves and return for the show’s finale.
“What we learned from Last Chance Kitchen is that you need to work with production hand-in-hand from the very beginning,” Hsia reveals. “It’s a whole different way to do production. We no longer look at it as a one-hour show; it’s a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week experience.”
The Singles Project is produced by All3Media America, Goodbye Pictures and Lime Pictures.
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