NBC To Create Its Own Project Runway, With E-Commerce


Elle McPherson

Project Runway has a little more competition to look forward to — a new designer reality show is entering the picture, and this one has the bonus of an online shopping platform.

The new prime-time show — simply called Fashion Star — is set to debut in 2012 with a common formula: add a supermodel host (in this case, Elle MacPherson, supermodel-turned-designer), dramatic weekly eliminations, even more dramatic catfights, and a multimillion-dollar contract for the winner.

Granted, instead of focusing on high-end fashion, the lines will feature ready-to-wear clothing like bathing suits, lingerie, or jeans, the New York Times reports. But the real innovation of Fashion Star is that online shopping will be integrated into the show.

E-commerce was a huge part of the appeal for former NBC top programmer Ben Silverman, who conceived and sold the project to the peacock channel with his new production company, Electus. Not only can viewers select the winning designs, they can also buy all of the creations (including the losing items) online the next day. Talk about great user engagement that also doesn’t hurt the bottom line.

As Paul Telegdy, the executive vice president in charge of reality programming for NBC, tells the Times: the network will get a cut of the sales.

“Any shows that can create auxiliary revenue streams, we are always keen to examine those,” he said.

We still have to see if the show can “make it work” in the ratings without the quotable phrasings of fashion darling Tim Gunn. But this is a clever, and quite frankly so-obvious-we-can’t-believe-no-one-thought-of-this-earlier extension of the aspiring designer series. We wouldn’t be surprised if other brandable reality shows followed suit.


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