CNBC Gets Into Crowd-Funding Business With ‘Crowd Rules’

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The Hollywood Reporter | by Philiana Ng  4/22/2013

CNBC Crowdrules panel

The cable news network's latest unscripted series relies on the studio audience to crown a winner.

 

 

Crowd-funding takes center stage on CNBC's new reality competition series Crowd Rules.

The New York-based series is the latest unscripted effort, debuting at 9 p.m. May 14, for the financial news network under the "CNBC Prime" umbrella. In each episode, three small businesses compete in front of an audience of 100 who vote to decide who wins the $50,000 grand prize. Jewelry designer Kendra Scott and NY1 anchor Pat Kiernan, along with an expert, provide advice and help the studio audience -- made up of MBA students, consumers and business owners -- vote on which company takes home the money.

"This idea is an intersection of two things that were going on in the last year. ... I was trying to figure a way how I could bring crowd-funding to a business reality show on television," executive producer Michael Davies told reporters Monday at NBCUniversal summer press day. "And secondly in researching another project, I stumbled across facts to do with small businesses in America: 54 percent of all GDP is generated by small family-owned businesses. Since the 1970s, they've been responsible for 66 percent of all employment."

Marrying those two factors seemed like potential for a new show that didn't exist. "There were TV shows with big businesses, there were TV shows that focused on commercial or people with new ideas for products or businesses," he said. "There were no TV shows for [the existing individually-owned businesses]."

While episodes won't specifically feature companies with similar areas, like three ice-cream businesses for instance, Davies noted that there are themes for each hour. For example, one installment features "legacy" companies, which are in the middle of transitioning into new hands.

Crowd Rules panelists emphasized the differences of their CNBC offering from that of ABC's Shark Tank, which focuses on the entrepreneur and whose bickering "sharks" are often the entertainment. Depending on who you believe, panelists Kiernan and Scott "agree 80 percent of the time" or "75 percent."

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