An IBC Accelerator is exploring how the traditional talent show can be reinvented into a new music discovery format via real-time, multi-user virtual broadcasts, UGC interactivity and an ethical-AI backend, writes Ian Volans

britains got talent

Talent shows like Britain’s Got Talent could be overhauled

Talent show formats have been the mainstay of linear schedules in countries worldwide for years. The X Factor has been replicated in more than 50 countries while the Got Talent format has been produced in 69. From sourcing and managing contestants through to taking shows to air, these formats consume huge quantities of organisational, technical and financial resource. However, in a world where consumers are increasingly using social platforms to access live and on-demand video content talent show audiences have been declining.

Those TV talent shows that are made available on social platforms tend to be simple re-broadcasts of TV content that don’t take full advantage of the unique features of live social video. Warner Music & MTV International have teamed-up to champion an IBC Accelerator to take a fresh look at traditional talent show and new music discovery formats.

This proof-of-concept (PoC) aims to show how a digital-first programme can be created that is immersive and engaging for a social audience, leverages the interactive nature of live social video while ensuring that content is accessible across many devices and platforms. The project will also investigate how digital and cloud technologies could streamline the production process, reinvigorate consumer interest to reach a wider audience.

Accelerator Title: Virtual & Interactive Live Music Talent Show

Champions: MTV International / ViacomCBS (Project lead)

Participants: Grabyo, Joi Polloi,


Bianca Acca, Director, Talent & Music at MTV International / ViacomCBS and project lead for the Accelerator said the objective is to identify how tech advances can assist in shining a light on new music talent. The inspiration and challenge here is really to evolve the way new music talent can be seen and heard via a creative use of digital technologies.”

The PoC will also explore how broadcasters can create, manage and execute this type of programme fully remotely, saving on cost and resources. By using cloud-based production technology, broadcasters may be able to cut out much of the equipment, travel, venue and personnel requirements for hosting this type of show, without sacrificing the production quality.

The Accelerator will evaluate the practicalities of auditioning through the medium of user generated video. Artificial intelligence (AI) will be deployed widely: to verify the identity of contestants; facilitate inclusion and maximise diversity and promote ethical moderation.

Progression will be determined by the most popular clips going through to a weekly, ‘flash-mob’-style live performance broadcast as a live transmission. Weekly ‘tune-in’ calls-to-action will be used to drive maximum engagement with audition clips and live performances. AI will also be used to secure the process from being corrupted through manipulation by trolls.

Using graphic overlays, real-time polling and social post visualizations, production teams can create an interactive viewing experience that drives longer watch times and creates more memorable moments for the audience.

Hugo Pinto, an independent AI & digital strategy executive, with previous experience at MTV, IBM, and Accenture, who is co-ordinating the project says, “Rather than just building new capabilities, the team has brought together existing and proven technology, and added new components that can translate the ethical values being demanded by audiences, into controls and functionality embedded within the experience that bring them to life.”

Technology companies supporting the project include Joi Polloi , Grabyo and All three companies relish the opportunity to work with major media organisations and understand their challenges and strategy.

“We are working with several really exciting and forward thinking digital companies,” said Acca. “Our approaches are multi layered: as we progress down one path we may find more questions to challenge our ways of working on this project, for example how we use AI in an ethical way or how we promote inclusivity and discourage negativity.”

Joi Polloi is an independent digital studio specialising in creating digital experiences and bespoke online platforms for content ranging from live TV to one-off interactive experiences for artists, theatres, and museums. The company has worked on projects for the BBC, Channel 4 and Film 4.

“Proof-of-concept work is great as it allows out team to flex their creative muscles outside of the confines of a regular project, working in a more experimental and iterative, fluid way,” said Nick Crossland, Creative Director, Joi Polloi.

Crossland continued, “The concept we’re developing tackles two major issues which are very relevant for the industry right now - how existing media businesses adapt to create new formats for new platforms; and how people all over the world can exercise their creativity and talent in a safe and positive environment.”

He sees indirect benefits of the Accelerator could include developments in recommendation algorithms and AI for content moderation which could have an even wider impact.

Aaron Duckmanton, Global Head of Marketing at Grabyo said, “Our cloud video platform enables broadcasters to easily broadcast live to all major social platforms. While its live streaming capabilities enable production teams to collaborate in real-time to create a TV-quality broadcast, remote contribution features allow guests and contestants to easily appear on broadcasts using personal devices.” Working with major broadcasters and publishers globally on their digital video strategies, Grabyo’s platform delivered over 12 billion social video views for its partners in 2019.

As a cloud-native platform which can be accessed through a web browser, it can be accessed from anywhere in the world. It also requires minimal training and resource to operate.

Norway’s works across broadcast, digital, mobile and social media specialising in making content more engaging for audiences. It’s cloud-based audience participation platform enables the moderation, creation and delivery of audience generated content onto broadcast, digital and advertising platforms. The company has more than 20 years experience of how viewers consume and react to a wide range of content.

Ed Abis,’s Commercial Director, said, “Combining organisations and complimentary technology providers naturally boosts innovation, with the potential to transform the industry.”’s platform, which can be integrated directly with Grabyo, will allow production teams to drive engagement by creating a community-focused experience for social audiences.

“The capabilities the project is investigating are relevant to all content creators and will enable them to access technology that creates deeper connections with their audiences,” continued Abis. “This could help brands, broadcasters and general content creators who are constantly looking to streamline and optimise workflows.”

The music industry, together with the live broadcast sector has a track record of innovation in new talent discovery that goes back decades. This Accelerator aims to provide a template for extending that success into the digital-first, online world.

The IBC SHOWCASE Virtual & Interactive Live Music Talent Show Accelerator panel will take place 12:00 BST on Friday 11 September