NBC has shown a modest amount of interest in digital video production, and once a new competition concludes, the Peacock will get to work on its first original web series. NBC has shared five pilots on YouTube, and the one that receives the most votes from viewers will receive a full digital series order.
The five pilots are all part of NBC Playground, a talent search that recently awarded TV pilots to its two winners. The shows vying for the digital series spot are all finalists in the Playground program, having outlasted a pool of more than 2,100 applicants.
So what are the competing pilots like? For the most part, they all adopt the standard web series starting point of “young people trying to make it in the big city.” The most unique plot synopsis within the group belongs to Wolfgirl, which stars Melissa Hunter (the creator of the web series Adult Wednesday Addams) as a woman raised by wolves who moves to Los Angeles to make something of her life.
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Another fresh concept can be found in The Bar Mitzvah Club, which infiltrates a ritzy private school through the eyes of a poor, ambitious student. The other pilots, however, put more work into their characters than their settings. Stunted focuses on a trio of young, technology-obsessed friends (and features YouTube star Anna Akana as one of its leads), Bobby & Iza follows the misadventures of a young couple, and Broker centers on wisecracking real estate agents.
NBC’s competition is very similar to the “pilot season” format Amazon uses to help decide which original programs it brings to series. The main advantage of this strategy is that it brings viewers into the production process at an early stage, thus theoretically increasing the likelihood that each completed project will resonate with fans. Already, commenters on YouTube have left plenty of input on NBC’s pilots.
As explained on the NBC Playground website, viewers can use Facebook and e-mail to vote for their favorite pilots ten times per day. The polls will be open until September 3rd, and the winner will be decided sometime thereafter.