PROVO — BYUtv is on a mission to bring back television content the entire family can watch — and enjoy — together.
Andra Duke, director of content at BYUtv, said there’s been a decline of family-friendly content in the past 20 years, something the network is determined to change.
“We’re really looking to build family entertainment — positive, uplifting, purposeful entertainment — that will appeal to the entire family,” Duke said.
Along with continuing to produce past hits, including a new season of “Studio C,” BYUtv is currently producing three new TV shows with the goal to build family entertainment that appeals to children, teens and adults.
The season nine premiere of “Studio C,” which airs on BYUtv Sept. 10 at 7 p.m. MDT, is a milestone for the Provo-based sketch comedy troupe.
It’s the first episode to be filmed in New York City, where the group traveled at the end of August to perform at the Manhattan Center’s Hammerstein Ballroom. The live-taped performance was hosted by Kenan Thompson, known for his own sketch comedy career on “Saturday Night Live.”
It’s the last season premiere that will feature the 10 original “Studio C” cast members, including Matt Meese, Mallory Everton and Whitney Call. All 10 original cast members will be embarking on a new comedy venture together, which will be announced later this year.
“I think it really spoke to the growth of the show, the talents of the cast, and just what BYUtv has to offer in the family entertainment space,” Duke said.
About half of the sketches for season nine, Duke said, were taped with a live audience in Studio C, one of the three studios at the BYU Broadcasting building and the show’s namesake. In season eight, the show veered away from live tapings with a studio audience.
“The stage sketches have such a different energy than the pre-recorded segments,” Duke said. “Both are wonderful and they bring different elements to the show, and so we wanted to make sure that we had a good blend of both this season. It was such a hit to have it back in studio.”
‘Dinner Takes All’
Kelsey Nixon, a Brigham Young University alumna, chef and television personality, will be returning to her alma mater to host the family competition game show “Dinner Takes All.” Nixon has appeared on the Food Network for years, including on her own show “Kelsey’s Homemade" and on “Rachael Ray."
“Dinner Takes All” is a cooking competition that places two teams of five family members head-to-head to create their best Sunday dinner, including a main dish, side dishes and dessert. The winning family gets free groceries for a year.
Duke said one thing she loves about the show is that it promotes conversation and activity at home. The show makes it easy for families to play along, whether by re-creating recipes together or answering the trivia questions scattered throughout the show.
“Encouraging families to eat together and to cook together is just a big passion of Kelsey’s and of mine,” Duke said. “We felt like it really fit the space that we’re trying to create at the network. … We're really encouraging connecting families through purposeful entertainment.”
“Dinner Takes All” will air spring 2019.
“Show Offs” is a musical improv comedy show hosted by Casey Jost, known for his role as a comedy producer for the prank show “Impractical Jokers.” “Show Offs” invites the studio audience to choose the genre the cast will perform.
After the audience members choose what they want to see, the cast goes backstage for impromptu hair, makeup and costuming before performing a long-form improv piece on the chosen genre, including musical numbers created on the spot.
“What I think one of the things that differentiates this show right now from other kind of short-form improv pieces is they really are trying to craft something that has a full storyline,” Duke said. “It's not just a funny scene or a funny riff on something, but they go through and develop it out.”
“Show Offs” will air January 2019.
‘Battle of the Ages’
Another family-based game show coming to BYUtv is “Battle of the Ages,” in which two multigenerational family teams compete in challenges, some of which test family members’ knowledge of each other and of previous eras.
As the title suggests, the show plays with the idea of multigenerational differences between family members. According to Duke, the format of the show encourages families at home to connect and learn more about each other.
“You have that moment where the viewers at home go, ‘Well, what would you say?’ or say, ‘Oh, I know what I would say, what would you say?’” Duke said. “So you get people playing along. I think the best game shows in history are those that engage the viewers to play along.”
“Battle of the Ages” will air spring 2019.