Last month there were doubts as to whether the show would be returning after the show averaged 4 million viewers – below what ITV would have expected for such a large production which had its two most popular presenters Ant and Dec at the helm.
ITV director of television Peter Fincham has warmed to the idea of bringing the show back on a tighter budget and production costs would be slashed if a range of expensive stunts were removed. In the first series contestants were transported to a castle to guess if a red or black parachutist would land closer to a target and elaborate arena sets were constructed for challenges such as Twinball – a giant pinball-style game.
“It is a big show,” said Fincham recently. “The sort of thing ITV should be doing on a Saturday night. It’s a show I want to make some changes to … I’m nearly there, but not quite ready yet.”
Bosses are also expected to schedule the shows for concurrent Saturday evenings, when ITV have traditionally held sway over other channels, rather than during the week as it was this summer. Checks on contestants will also be increased after former criminal Nathan Hageman scooped a million in the first series.
Cowell has said that he wants to take Red or Black? “around the world” but his production company SyCo would stand to make more from syndication rights than ITV. However the chances of the show being snapped up abroad would be damaged if there wasn’t a second series in the UK.
One source told The Guardian: “Red or Black costs around £1m an hour, perhaps £1.3m per show all in, real top-end stuff for ITV. The top end of what they would ever think about investing, up there with X Factor probably. If you look at the number of shows and the payout to the winners they probably had a net investment of £12m or £13m.”
“Commercially it wouldn’t have been great returns for them. The multi-million sponsorship with Domino’s was split with Syco, there weren’t really additional streams like phone voting and the audience levels weren’t great and the viewing profile had no special spike, like a youth skew, so ad sales probably weren’t great,” they continued.
“The pressure point is the relationship with Syco. Cowell wants this to go global and so they will definitely be saying they can make it more engaging, put in more jeopardy, make it more watchable.”