Let’s Bring Back The Sing-Off

Open Letters

Dear NBC,

This again?

Yes, this again.

Before Pitch Perfect or Sing It On, there was The Sing-Off, that quirky little reality series that could. It started as a four-episode holiday special and grew until it got a full fall run on season three, before receding to a single episode in its fifth and final run to date.

TV’s driven by dollars and cents, and particularly so at the major network level. NBC can’t, and shouldn’t be in the business of catering to a niche audience. But with a third film in the Pitch Perfect franchise on the way, with Sing It On gathering steam on not only Pop TV, but via Netflix, might there be more than meets the eye to a property like The Sing-Off?

We live in an age of the spectacle. When now, more than ever, people without professional training film themselves doing things with the potential for their content to go viral. A cappella is a form tailor fit to this era, for the sheer spectacle of everyday people doing amazing, innovative, often beautiful things with only the human body at their disposal. A cappella works on YouTube. It can work on network TV, too, with the opportunity to spotlight a variety of groups (as the show has done in the past!) and for fans to relive the greatest moments on NBC.com or YouTube (even with a revenue-generating ad or two buffering each performance).

And what of ratings? The Sing-Off may never have been and may never be a ratings monster for NBC, but it has had a tendency to over-perform, consistently drawing over eight million viewers per episode in its peak second season, and even pulling five million for its not-particularly-well-publicized, single-episode fifth iteration. No, the numbers did not work out so well for season three, when the show had to contend with regular network programming and the eleven episodes tested the average viewer's attention span, and I’m not asking for another half-season run. But a five-ish episode miniseries? The show has proven itself to thrive in this format.

Also, if you’re going to get hung up on the relative failure of the third season, which only averaged only about four-and-a-half million viewers, let’s not forget the long term effects of that season. The winners? A little ensemble known as Pentatonix that has transcended the genre, winning multiple Grammy awards, garnering well over a billion YouTube views (with over ten million subscribers). NBC is a part of that story. Wouldn’t you like to be part of another?

I won’t deny my personal stake in The Sing-Off. I found it wildly entertaining, and, full disclosure, it widened the audience for my blog. But I think there are a lot of other aca-fans out there, ready to tune into this show, and perhaps more importantly than that, millions more who aren’t into a cappella yet, whom you can be responsible for bringing on board as you bring them into watching your network.

So give it some thought. K?

Sincerely,

Mike