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NBCU to test Spartan at MIPTV

Formats-logo-460_2NBCUniversal International Formats is to unleash the Spartans in Cannes at MIPTV.

The global formats arm of NBCU International Studios is debuting Spartan: Ultimate Team Challenge at the confab as the latest effort from the production team of American Ninja Warrior.

The format sees 36 groups of friends, families or co-workers racing across specially-designed Spartan courses with the help of one elite athlete. The winning team will bag a prize of US$250,000.

Deals with major broadcasters are understood to be underway in view of upcoming autumn schedules.

“It’s our big headliner at MIPTV,” Yvonne Pilkington, senior VP, format sales and production at NBCUI told TBI. “We had a really good response to that in Milan [at the ProSiebenSat.1 pitch] and at the RTL event in Paris.

“People are really interested in shows about achieving even greater goals,” she added. “Spartan-type challenges have taken over marathons, and this is a reflection of that.”

American Ninja Warrior producer A. Smith & Co. will produce seven-episode original version in the US, where it will go out on NBC and has hosts including former NFL linebacker Dhani Jones and ex-L.A. Galaxy star Kyle Martino.

Smith co-founders Arthur Smith and Kent Weed are executive producers, along with Anthony Storm.

NBCUI is also debuting Wedlocked, a marriage format created for TV3 in Latvia from the centralised development unit of NBCUIF parent NBCUIS, Tellycopter.

“Working with a respected broadcaster from a major player in Latvia to create the format is an interesting way of launching a show,” said Pilkington, “and it’s been a huge ratings hit for TV3.”

TV3 sister channels elsewhere in Europe within the Modern Times Group are said to be eyeing the format.

NBCUI will also offer buyers on the Croisette The Internet Ruined My Life, a reality series from Left/Right for US cable channel Syfy, which debuted earlier this year.