Esquire Network is looking to proven formats and name producers for its next round of unscripted series.
The network, ahead of its May 14 upfront presentation to Madison Avenue, has put four series into development: spinoffs of American Ninja Warrior and Friday Night Tykes as well as a remake of Educating Britain and a sports-themed docuseries from executive producer LeBron James and Magical Elves.
“We’re excited to partner with some of the biggest names in the industry as Esquire Network continues to gain momentum and grow its investment in authentic and original programming,” original programming headMatt Hanna said. “This new lineup of dynamic and provocative content reinforces our commitment to speak to the passions and interests of today’s modern man.”
Esquire, NBCUniversal’s lifestyle network, is fresh off its most-watched quarter in history — with April on pace to deliver its seventh month in a row of growth year-over-year among the advertiser-coveted adults 18-49 demographic.
Team Ninja Warrior hails from the producers of the network (and NBC’s) long-running remake of American Ninja Warrior. The competition series from A. Smith’s Arthur Smith and Kent Weed is based on the same format from Tokyo Broadcasting System Television and puts a spin on the competition. For the first time, ninjas will form teams and race head-to-head through the world’s toughest obstacle course. The final match of each episode will consist of a relay element for a sprint to the finish — and a new level of pressure among its competitors.
American Ninja Warrior has been a stellar performer for Esquire and NBC. Last season, the series featured the first woman to climb its famed warped wall and topped CBS’ pricey drama Under the Dome in the key demo. Expanding the franchise makes sense for Esquire, which broadcasts the summer staple in addition to NBC.
Friday Night Tykes: Western, PA is a spinoff focusing on Beaver County — home of NFL legends Mike Ditka and Joe Namath — and where youth football is a birthright. The series, produced by 441 Productions, focuses on the pressure kids feel to be superstars from parents, coaches and their entire communities. The series is a spinoff from the controversial flagship series, which takes place in Texas, and has been a ratings standout for Esquire, setting series highs in its second season.
Educating America is based on the BAFTA-winning U.K. series Educating Britain, and explores what happens inside American schools. From TwoFour America with David Clews and Andrew MacKenzie executive producing, the series will look to capture the true experience of staff and students as they navigate life in high school.
For James, the series would mark his latest foray into TV. He’s also prepping NBC game show in which everyday teams of two compete for life-changing amounts of money and serves as an exec producer on Starz’s Survivor’s Remorse.
Source: The Hollywood Reporter