Why ABC's 'Boy Band' Is Already Doomed to Fail

In late Mach, ABC announced that it picked up an all-new singing competition series called "Boy Band". The show is similar to most other competition shows, with a panel of coaches and the viewers having the final say via voting. The final group will be made up of the five top contestants. Yesterday, they announced that Backstreet Boys' Nick Carter and the Spice Girls' Emma Bunton (Baby Spice) would be coaches.

Other than those few facts, however, very little is known about the show, despite the fact that it's set to premiere in late June. It's a little difficult to get hyped about a show when you know essentially nothing about it. Without having to know much, though, it's pretty easy to tell that this show is already set up to fail.

Typical Voting Structures Don't Match Demographic

Now, I'm going to be a little presumptuous here and guess that the voting system for "Boy Band" will be pretty similar to any other American competition show voting system. Votes will need to be placed either during the show or by the next morning. That doesn't exactly match up with the shifting viewing habits of teens and young adults, who are moving toward internet streaming and on-demand services like Hulu and Netflix.

While Hulu usually uploads new episodes the day after they air, it's still too late for any streaming viewer to cast a vote. This leaves out a large majority of viewers who could be potential viewers, but are unable to view live. 

And, I know other shows have had no problem pulling in millions of votes. The season 10 finale of "American Idol", one of the most popular final episodes for the show, brought in over 120 million votes under the typical voting structure. That's equivalent to if 1/3 of the country submitted one vote (although we know that's not how it worked because, in theory, fans could submit over 10 votes individually).

However, compared to international singing competitions that use multiple-day voting systems like the explosively popular second season of South Korea's "Produce 101", which brought in 247 million votes for just the first elimination round alone, it's easy to see that live viewer based systems are inferior in today's day and age of day-after (or a few days after) streaming habits.

The Build Up Is Key

The fact that "Boy Band" premieres in essentially a month and it is still basically unknown to anyone is troubling. While I understand that the show can't possibly do the pre-show lead up that others with already-established contestants can, it's still important to get SOMETHING out there to get people talking. So far, the only shareable content that the show has released is a super-quick 5-second video that says pretty much nothing about what to expect.

The video was posted over 20 days ago and has less than 500 views, if that helps paint the picture of how royally unknown this show is.

Shows like these, especially ones catering to a younger audience, need plenty of hype going into the first few episodes. With basically nothing being released by the show, it feels like the premiere is being rushed. With the lackluster response to the news of ABC getting the rights to the "American Idol" reboot, things are looking really uneasy for the network's competition show lineup. ABC desperately needs a hit, and it seems like they're throwing out everything they can as soon as possible and hoping something will stick.

What Kind of Boy Band Are We Talking About, Exactly?

Something I tried to figure out about the show was what kind of boy band it was looking to build. Western culture has had a bad habit of clumping different types of groups together and just calling them "boy bands" or "girl groups". Nevermind the fact that groups like NSYNC and the Spice Girls, who danced and sang simultaneously, are a whole different entity than groups like One Direction or Fifth Harmony, who are limited to just singing.

In Asia, groups are separated into "idol groups", who are the singing, dancing, all-around entertainment machines, and "band groups", who focus specifically on singing. In South Korea, EXO, TWICE, and BTS are just a few of the more popular idol groups, while CNBLUE and Day6 top the band group sphere. Band groups also tend to play instruments, similar to 5 Seconds of Summer.

The kind of group that's being formed makes a huge difference on exactly how the show will play out. While both of the announced mentors being from successful 90's all-arounder groups gives me hope that we'll see a group built that both sings and dances, it's also extremely likely that, given the popularity of Western boy bands like One Direction and The Wanted, it could be a singing-only group that gets built.


There's a lot of unknown around this show, which is a huge downfall with its premiere being right around the corner. I'll look out for more information about it, or any content at all from ABC itself, but so far, it's looking like "Boy Band" may be facing a similar fate as ABC's equally underwhelming "Rising Star".