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Christopher Potts Knows the Sweet Smell of Streaming Success

2018 was a momentous year in the direction of television. The greatest indicator of this was the prominence of Netflix with its one-hundred-twelve Emmy nominations which eviscerated HBO’s seventeen-year streak of earning the most nominations. To the industry and to the public, this occurrence announced that the previous template for successful programming was outdated. Netflix rebukes ratings (at least they say they do) in preference of creative programming. Instead of pandering to the masses, the subscription service is pursuing what they find intriguing and exceptional. Even when based around previously held concepts, the unique twists of shows such as Sugar Rush and Nailed It! have proven that the development of original approaches to baking shows procure and retain the types of viewers Netflix desires. As an executive producer behind the development of both these shows, Christopher Potts has found this mutually beneficial relationship with the streaming giant to give voice to some fascinating shows and characters.

While working at Magical Elves Inc. in LA, Potts was aware of the success Netflix had experienced with the Bake Off and Cupcake Wars and and their desire to capitalize on this with a new iteration. He explains, “It occurred to me that there have been plenty of baking (and otherwise) competitions in which contestants are given a set amount of time to complete a challenge…but what if the contestants were able to decide for themselves how long to take? How would they manage that time? That’s ultimately what makes this format different from other competitions.” This idea became Sugar Rush, a baking competition with four teams, three rounds, two cakes and a single winner of $10,000. Hosted by Hunter March, Candace Nelson (previously a judge on Cupcake Wars), and Adriano Zumbo, the show added a tactical layer to the typical baking competition and separated it from the status quo.

Nailed It! has been another immensely popular show for Netflix built upon the inverse premise of most baking shows. Developed by Potts and the same team that created Sugar Rush, Nailed It! brings a strong dose of reality to this proven format. The endearing twist of this program is that it brings together home baking competitors with a less than successful track record to recreate edible masterpieces for a $10,000 prize. Failure is almost guaranteed and this is the hub on which the story rotates. The true message of Nailed It! isn’t about being the best; it’s about giving your best and being able to laugh at yourself. Host Nicole Byer and host/judge Jacques Torres lay a foundation of subtle and amiable contention while contestants persevere in spite of their own inabilities. The admirable characteristic of the show is the prevalent joy for baking all share rather than its mastery. The affable nature of the show earned it nominations at the TCA Awards and the Realscreen Awards.

Programs such as these and others prove the Netflix mantra of creating shows which wouldn’t necessarily be seen on linear TV attract a sizable and loyal audience. The concept of a template which requires adherence is rebuked for imagination and uniqueness. Potts reinforces, “I think what was also great about shows such as Sugar Rush and Nailed It! is that they were picked up straight to series from the original pitch, which is VERY rare now in linear unless there is a huge star attached and/or a bidding war between networks. The linear development process usually involves a number of development steps, creating a short presentation or sizzle tape, doing some casting, finding a host, creating a detailed format, etc., all before the show is greenlit. This is a process that can take months. Of course, one could argue that this allows everyone to really get a strong sense of the show before its produced but I think it often stifles creativity and can suck the life from a project.” What these show also confirm is that there is a calculated move away from the meaner nature of cooking shows in pursuit of warmth and heart, something the world could use more of these days.

Author: Kelly King
Christopher Potts Knows the Sweet Smell of Streaming Success Reviewed by JaamZIN on 9:52:00 AM Rating: 5
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