“Idol Producer” Season 3 Reportedly Seeking To Cast Chinese K-Pop Idols And Trainees

Chinese survival show “Idol Producer” is preparing for a new season.

On September 10, Ilgan Sports reported that the upcoming third season of “Idol Producer” was contacting several Korean agencies to find Chinese K-pop idols who have already debuted or Chinese trainees who have gone through the K-pop system who are interested in appearing on the show.

“Idol Producer” is a Chinese survival program that airs on China’s largest platform iQIYI. The third season is the first of the series to feature female contestants and will be a collaboration with girl group SNH48.

At SNH48’s sixth general election on July 27, it was officially announced that the girl group would be collaborating with “Idol Producer” season three. SNH48’s unit 7SENSES, who had their Korean debut on MBC’s “Show Champion” with Shinsadong Tiger-produced track “Swan,” also appeared in the teaser for the survival show.

The production process of the third season of “Idol Producer” is similar to that of “Produce 48,” which was collaboration between Mnet and Japanese girl group AKB48. SNH48 purchased copyrights from AKB48’s management company at the beginning of its formation and has since branched out to operate independently as China’s largest global idol group.

It is unclear if “Idol Producer” season three is an imitation of the “Produce 101” series or if the producers purchased copyrights before its production. iQIYI was accused of copyright infringement since the beginning of the production of “Idol Producer.” Format Recognition and Protection Association (FRAPA) criticized “Idol Producer” for severe copyright infringement, stating that it was 88 percent similar to the “Produce 101” series. Tencent, which officially purchased copyrights from Mnet, launched the official Chinese version of “Produce 101” and produced the girl group Rocket Girls. The program achieved 4.7 billion views in two months during its run, and WJSN’s Mei Qi came in at No. 1 with 185.2 million votes.

A source working in the entertainment industry in China said, “Whether or not the program is an imitation, it’s true that Chinese audition programs largely prefer [people] from the K-pop industry. This not only applies to the audition participants, but also to the MCs and panelists. Those who have experienced the K-pop system are definitely faster at adapting to the program.”

Sources from various agencies commented, “It’s true that we received offers saying that they were producing an audition program in China. To our knowledge, no agency has made a decision about appearing on the show yet. It’s something to think about internally.”

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