NBCUniversal’s Corie Henson

The competition format The Traitors has taken the world by storm, becoming a full-on cultural phenomenon. In the U.S., Peacock commissioned the iteration, based on an All3Media International format, with Alan Cumming as host. The first season won an Emmy Award for outstanding casting for a reality program, and season two became Peacock’s most-watched reality series. A third has been ordered as well. Along with the success of the U.S. treatment, the U.K. and Australian versions are available to stream on Peacock. Corie Henson, executive VP of unscripted content, competition and game shows at NBCUniversal, talks with TV Formats about the immense success of The Traitors and other punchy properties such as the Love Island universe, along with what’s new on Peacock and the tenets of success for both fresh and familiar formats.

TV FORMATS: Let’s talk about some of those entertainment competitions and game shows. What’s guiding that strategy for Peacock?
HENSON: Across the board, with Peacock in particular, we have created this amazing Love Island universe that spans beyond the mothership. It’s Love Island, Love Island Games, the international version, Love Island All Stars. Dating shows are working for us.

We’ve invested in a new series, which just premiered on May 9, called Love Undercover. It’s built on unique IP and the Premier League. We’re looking at different ways to tap into IP and not always the most orthodox or traditional ways. Love Undercover is a dating series, but it’s built around these five famous international soccer players. We’re hoping that that speaks to a broad audience and has the potential for scale.

Stand-alone games are a little trickier, not just for Peacock but across the board for streamers. There hasn’t been a big one that’s broken out just yet. All of the big competition shows we have right now are all winners. They’re knocking down all of the other unscripted shows and ranking number one across not just Peacock but across the streaming landscape—The Traitors is a great example.

We’re being really selective. We’re trying to look for built-in fanbases [like with] Premier League or Love Island, but also on linear, we just launched Deal or No Deal Island.

TV FORMATS: Deal or No Deal Island is so fun to watch!
HENSON: We’ve seen delayed viewing just explode on Peacock next-day, and we knew going into this series that there was an audience for it on Peacock as well, which is a win-win for us. Across platforms, Deal or No Deal Island has reached more than 24 million viewers in just the first four episodes, and we just announced that we’re renewing it for a second season.

TV FORMATS: For The Traitors, the U.K. and Australian versions are on the platform. How are the international versions of these hit entertainment competitions and game-show formats performing with audiences, and what does that tell you about what audiences in the U.S. want?
HENSON: It’s really interesting. The Traitors is such a compelling case study because it is and continues to be a very successful co-production that we do with the BBC. The scope and scale of our show exists because of their commitment and collaboration, and vice versa. They launched the first season about a month or so before we did. We really used that ballyhoo and press that was going out and the conversation around the launch in the U.K. to invigorate viewers and let them know that there was something big coming here in the U.S. We clearly bet on the right show.

We’re doing that again with a new show coming up, Destination X—also in partnership with the BBC.

The data is there to support the acquisition of these international versions, and that is helping serve core audiences and bring them back week to week and episode on episode to the platform. If you’re a fan of The Traitors U.S., you’re probably going to miss it when that reunion ends. Hopefully, we’re rolling you right over into The Traitors U.K. and The Traitors Australia. In some instances, we’ve noticed that people who came for the U.S. version of any of these shows—for example, Love Island USA—and then left after the season was over, actually came back to the platform for the international version. It is all about creating an innovative ecosystem of content to keep people engaged.

TV FORMATS: When you’re looking at the next 12 to 18 months ahead, how will Peacock be building out this entertainment slate?
HENSON: Not only do we have our originals on Peacock, we have next-day content from NBC and Bravo. What we’re looking to do is keep building on our IP—that is what we’re focusing on. So, whether it’s America’s Got Talent: Fantasy League, The Traitors or Love Island All Stars, we’ll keep looking to bring fan-favorite characters from shows outside of Peacock together in a fresh and interesting way.

TV FORMATS: Was there anything else that you wanted to mention that I haven’t gotten to highlight yet?
HENSON: It’s worth saying that we are so proud of The Traitors. The work that the producers do and the quality of the show is unparalleled. They really did create this world that you want to immerse yourself in. It’s the number one unscripted series in the country across all streaming, and it’s Peacock’s most popular new unscripted show ever. I’m pretty proud of that.