Nordic World’s The Stream

Espen Huseby, the CEO of Nordic World, talks to TV Formats about the new music competition format The Stream, which was recently picked up for adaptation in the U.S.

A sign of the digital times, The Stream is a new music competition format from the Nordic World catalog that aims to find the next great artist online. The original idea came from Little Hill, a production company founded by Norwegian music producer Jørn Dahl, and was developed by Monster***Image***Format for broadcast on TV2 in Norway.

“After years in the business, nobody knows better than Jørn how digital has disrupted the music industry, particularly in terms of discovering talent,” says Espen Huseby, the CEO of Nordic World. “In today’s world, it’s no longer A&R executives and record labels that decide who’s going to be a star, but the public. Look at Justin Bieber and Adele—arguably two of the biggest music stars on the planet—they were both discovered online. The Stream simply reflects the music industry’s new reality.”

The Stream is currently airing in Norway, where “the numbers have been very encouraging,” says Huseby. “It’s been pulling in an average share of more than 30 percent in the 20 to 49 demo.” Finland was the first country to pick up The Stream. The format has also been licensed in Belgium, as well as in the U.S., where it will broadcast on NBC.

“A U.S. deal is still the Holy Grail for any format,” says Huseby. “It’s the biggest, most important market in the world, and nothing beats the global profile that comes with delivering a U.S. hit.” In addition to adapting The Stream for the U.S., ***Image***Huseby says that NBCUniversal will distribute the format internationally outside of the Nordic territories and Belgium, which Nordic World will continue to represent.

According to Huseby, there are two central pillars that should remain at the core of local treatments of The Stream: the contestants being invited to stream videos, and the audience having control over the talent selection and outcome. “The basic premise ofThe Stream is that hopefuls upload video clips of themselves to the show’s website, where they can be viewed by the public,” he says. “The audience can comment on, share and stream the videos, with the most-streamed 100 contenders then asked to perform a showcase in front of top music-industry scouts. The record executives pick 40 artists, with whom they work closely for one week. At the end of that time, they sign their three favorite acts, which go on to compete in a weekly live show. Meanwhile, their music is also available on Spotify. The winner is the artist who generates the most streams, as well as the most votes during the live show. So it really is the audience who holds the power, and that, for me, is a non-negotiable element of the format.”

Looking ahead, Huseby is confident that the original version of The Stream will be renewed for a second season on Norway’s TV2. He also foresees international sales of the U.S. treatment. “The world is always interested in American talent, as the buoyant exports of many ready-made U.S. talent formats demonstrate,” he says. “After all the great publicity [we’ve had] on the back the NBCUniversal deal, we’ve had enquires from just about every major territory. In fact, I don’t think we’ve ever represented a format that’s created such a buzz.”