Behind-the-scenes details about The Voice: it costs $2.3 million per episode, Christina Aguilera gets $150,000 more an hour

The Voice has become a solid hit for NBC, and The Hollywood Reporter has a detailed story about the Mark Burnett-produced competition and how it came to be. It also reveals how much it costs–$2.3 million an hour–and how much of a premium the show paid for Christina Aguilera ($150,000 more an hour than the other coaches).

When Simon Cowell announced he was leaving American Idol, NBC reality executive Paul Telegdy approached Mark Burnett about a music competition that was basically a clone of The X Factor. The paper reports that then-NBC Universal chair Jeff Gaspin told them that their show “had no hook” and “[n]othing differentiated it from other competition shows, including X Factor.”

They heard about The Voice of Holland, and its blind audition twist. Teledgy says, “Mark and I looked at each other and said, ‘Oh my God, how could we be so stupid not to think of this ourselves?’” Its creator, John de Mol, had his representatives already pitching it to CBS, “which would balk at the cost,” THR reports. It was then $1.5 million an hour, instead of the eventual $2.3 million it now costs, and NBC said yes. (Tangent: I hope their loss of a hit show prompts CBS to reconsider spending a bit more money on its reality shows, but I also know that won’t happen.)

Speaking of costs, citing “knowledgable sources,” The Hollywood Reporter says that Christina Aguilera makes $225,000 per hour (not episode, though “per hour” may just be a synonym for episode) while Cee Lo Green, Adam Levine, and Blake Shelton each make just $75,000. That’s a $150,000 per hour difference.

And now for the bad news: Despite Paul Teledgy’s “resisting great pressure” to rush a second season on air for the fall, we learn this from The Hollywood Reporter’s story:

“…de Mol says he envisions five to six audition episodes (up from only two this year). Telegdy is eager to build the backstories of the contestants and depict more of the coaching process in longer “battle round” episodes. And if all continues to go well, NBC hopes to have two installments of Voice — one in the fall and one in the spring — for the 2012-13 season.”

More audition episodes are fine; longer battle rounds, which really sucked the life out of the show for a bit, are not. And after being smart about not airing two seasons in a row, I can’t believe they’re considering two seasons a year. American Idol succeeded in part because it airs just one season a year. I really hope NBC doesn’t kill the success it’s found, but this is NBC, after all.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.