The format Beat Me If You Can combines elements of a singing talent competition and a game show, and it does so against the vibrant backdrop of colorful neon cabinets in a studio that house the different contestants.
The concept comes from Gila Kantar, co-founder of Global Agency, which represents the format globally, who was inspired by a picture in a magazine of a woman looking at a building with many windows. The idea, instead, was to have the jury looking at the array of windows, which have different contestants inside ready to battle each other.
“I have been in this business for 16 years,” says Kantar. “I have pitched a lot of formats. So, I knew what clients were looking for.”
Kantar, herself, is a fan of singing talent competitions, so it was a natural fit that her first original creation would be in the musical genre. The concept was ready three and a half years ago, but as a paper format, took some time to catch the interest of the right buyer willing to take a risk.
“People liked it, but they said, ‘We don’t have the budget of over $1 million to pay. It’s a big risk for us. If you manage to sell it, come back to us,’” Kantar explains.
SBC in Saudi Arabia saw the trailer and decided to take a risk on the format—one that paid off in the ratings and viral social traction. “They were very happy with the results,” she says. “For example, some videos from the episodes have been watched on TikTok over 7.5 million times, which is huge. For the grand finale, they did a live show, so the whole country was voting.”
The performance landed Beat Me If You Can a second season commission from SBC, which will be prepping a pan-Arabic version this time around. “They will go city by city, even in the smallest villages, to find great voices,” Kantar says. “It will be on-air in December but will be promoted this summer as a search with talent hunters.”
Each week, the prime-time series follows as ten contestants—hidden in neon-colored cabinets—take part in the show, with a jury of two celebrity singers. At the top of the episode, the contestants of the week are introduced to the jury and the audience by previously recorded video. They will sing ten seconds of a song of their choosing, which gives the jury an idea about that week’s contestants—but it’s a total surprise who is in which cabinet.
The contestants, meanwhile, have no idea when they will be on the stage, with whom they will duet or which song they will be performing. For every song, the jury will choose two contestants to battle each other.
After every performance, the audience will decide who has to leave the show and who will go back to their cabinet and continue in the game. Whoever wins will provide one point for that jury member, who will then have priority to open the cabinet first for the next duel.
The winning contestant of the week will go to the grand finale. The winning jury member also has the chance to save two contestants, who will come next week directly. So, every week, two contestants will be back from the previous week, and eight new singers are introduced.
Kantar reports interest from France, Germany, the Netherlands and Russia to adapt the format. Her dream as a creator, though, is to land the series on a U.S. broadcaster.
The response to the format at MIPTV was enthusiastic, she adds. “We met with many customers from all around the world, and they really liked the idea; they find it unique. They mostly said that there are many shows around the market that are repeated and similar to other ideas. This one is totally different.”