Television is at an interesting crossroads right now. Never before has the live nature of the medium been more under attack. Streaming services such as Netflix (which is currently crushing subscriber growth expectations) and HBO Now (a cable-subscription-free app) and DVRs, which allow viewers to watch their favorite programming at their leisure, have all but put the final nail in the coffin. It’s no wonder that not even football can keep pace in the ratings game anymore.
The networks’ response for the past few years has been to rely heavily on reality TV. However, with American Idol being retired due to low viewership, it looks like something else entirely might be in order. CBS – which is doing some interesting experiments with streaming itself – just might have found the answer.
Variety has word that the network has picked up a TV version of Candy Crush Saga, an insanely popular mobile game that was first introduced on Facebook four years ago. Produced by Lionsgate, the adaptation will be an hour-long game show that will “feature teams of two players competing against giant interactive game boards to defeat obstacles and move through various levels to be crowned Candy Crush champion.” Though there is currently no release date set, CBS has noted that the series will feature an option for audiences to play along at home.
Across the past four years, Candy Crush Saga has seen explosive growth, moving from Facebook to Apple, Android, and Windows devices and spawning two spinoffs, Candy Crush Soda Saga and Candy Crush Jelly Saga. Last month alone, it’s been estimated that the titles have generated some 18 billion game rounds, easily making it one of the most popular games currently out there – and making its developer, King, attractive for the bigger studios to swoop up, which is precisely what Activision Blizzard did last November.
It is, of course, entirely unknown whether a game show version of Candy Crush will be able to similarly strike lightning and become must-watch TV in a way that, say, this year’s presidential debates have (largely) been. Name recognition alone should provide at least an initial lure for viewers, and CBS is obviously hoping that the ability to play alongside the contestants on-screen in the comfort of their own homes will be enough to keep them around for good. While the concept arguably has “gimmick” written all over it, so did the concept for Survivor... 16 years and 33 seasons ago.
What’s perhaps more interesting in this equation is what happens if this move does, indeed, prove to be successful. Television is, after all, one of the most imitative businesses out there, with one hit breeding dozens of copycats (hello, The Sopranos and floods of anti-heroes!). It should be noted that Nickelodeon already is tentatively dipping its toes back into the famed Legends of the Hidden Temple pond, and the possible confluence between mobile devices and live programming would only be a natural step for many a property (you better believe that AMC would be all over an interactive Walking Dead set-up in a heartbeat). This could very well represent the Next Big Thing in Hollywood – or it could prove to be a quickly-forgettable move on CBS' part.
Stay tuned to Screen Rant for further updates on Candy Crush Saga.