The show about EA’s life simulation video game will debut on TBS at 8 p.m. Pacific on on Friday, July 17, and new episodes will air weekly on Fridays through August 7. It’s another sign that games are mainstream and that television companies are recognizing that they need to do something to get younger viewers back. That trend has only accelerated during the pandemic, though TBS said this deal has been in the works for more than a year.
The Sims is both one of the best-selling video games of all time and a platform for diverse storytellers to “play with life.” Having reached more than 20 million players, the game is a good fit for something targeted at the broad television audience, as it has a huge base of women who play and wider demographics in general than most other video games. The franchise originally debuted in 2000, and a hardcore base of fans loves to use the simulation to create lifelike stories for its broader community.
That’s what the show is all about. Meanwhile, other kinds of TV show production has stalled because of the pandemic and the need for social distancing at work. TBS reaches more than 90 million homes.
“The Sims showcases gaming culture, competition and creative expression in a way that fits perfectly with our Eleague on TBS programming,” Jennifer Dill, vice president of esports at Turner, said in an email to GamesBeat. “We think our fans are really going to enjoy the show.”
The Sims Spark’d will have pretty good exposure. TBS will run encore telecasts on Saturdays at 8 a.m. Pacific time. Fans can also catch episodes on BuzzFeed Multiplayer’s official YouTube channel on the following Mondays.
The show consists of 12 contestants, three judges, and the host, American Idol season 14 finalist Rayvon Owen, who has been playing the game since middle school. Contestants will have a series of in-game challenges to complete in The Sims 4. Dubbed the Spark’d Challenge Program, the reality show depicts the competition among teams to best fulfill the challenges.
Judges include BuzzFeed Multiplayer YouTube personality Kelsey Impicciche famous for her own #100babychallenge series she created with The Sims; game developer Dave Miotke, a 15-year veteran at Maxis; and singer-songwriter Tayla Parx, who sang her song “Me vs. Us” in Simlish (in-game language) for The Sims 4 Get Famous expansion pack.
The game will be the creative challenge tool at the center of the reality TV show. Spark’d uses The Sims 4 to showcase the voices of The Sims community, which prides itself on inclusion and creativity. Now, top Sims players, each with their own unique voice and story, will be challenged to work against the clock to win the title of the world’s most creative storyteller and a $100,000 prize. Additionally, Sims players viewing from home can compete in special challenges for their chance at being on Spark’d in the future.
The 12 contestants are familiar online personalities who each specialize in their own element of The Sims gameplay. They will be fully revealed during the first episode. Eleague will set the stage for the show with a special episode of Eleague Game Night focused on The Sims 4, premiering Friday, July 10, at 9 p.m. Pacific time on TBS.