rumor has it

When Adele’s Album Finally Drops, a TV Special May Be Close Behind

Photo: Will Heath/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

If you believe the internet, Adele’s long-awaited new album could drop any day now. (We’ve heard there could be music as soon as next week.) But whenever it arrives, there’s a good chance said album will be followed shortly by something almost as exciting: Vulture hears Adele’s camp has approached multiple networks and platforms about the idea of staging a TV special tied to the new release. No deals are in place, and talks are still in the exploratory stage. But if it happens, sources say the televised event would likely debut before the end of the year — just in time for the holiday shopping season.

While our music and TV industry spies are certain Adele is strongly considering a TV event to hype her new music, what’s less certain is the form a special will take and where it will land. Adele promoted her 2015 album 25 with relatively intimate, pretaped televised concerts on the BBC and NBC in November and December of 2015, respectively. She could go with a similar format this time around, or perhaps shoot for something more ambitious, such as a live outdoor spectacle.

As for where any special might be seen, if history is a guide, it is likely Adele’s team is looking for a platform that can deliver a massive audience in a short time. On the streaming side, Netflix would certainly offer that — not just in the U.S. but on a global scale. The short turnaround time for this project, however, might not make it the ideal candidate, since Netflix music specials have tended to be long-in-the-works, almost-cinematic specials (think Beyoncé’s Homecoming). It’s unclear if the streamer is currently in talks for the prospective special; the platform doesn’t typically comment on projects before deals have been signed.

Amazon Prime Video could also be a contender: It has a long history of working with musicians on big projects, such as Rihanna’s fashion-forward Savage X Fenty Show, Kacey Musgraves’s Christmas show, and the Prime Day concert specials. Amazon also obviously has the ability to sell things, like CDs and digital downloads. It could put an Adele special on its free ad-supported streamer IMDb TV, ensuring an even wider audience. HBO too has a long history of music specials, and now it is looking to sign up subscribers around the world for HBO Max. And, of course, Apple, with its access to hundreds of millions of consumer accounts, could be home for an Adele event, most likely with some combination of coverage by Apple TV+ and Apple Music.

As for traditional broadcast TV, Vulture hears Adele’s reps have once again approached American networks about a special, indicating she hasn’t settled on a streaming-only strategy this time around. What’s more, all the U.S. broadcasters now have streaming partners, so in theory, Adele could do a deal to have her special run on multiple platforms owned by the same company, though likely with the broadcast network taking the lead.

NBC obviously has to be considered a candidate, given its past association with Adele as well as the presence of Lorne Michaels, who produced her 2015 special and holds the keys to SNL, which is an obvious promotional platform for the album. But Michaels can still have Adele host or perform on SNL in December even if she doesn’t do a special for NBC. As for the other U.S. networks, ABC’s Disney ownership would allow it to share any special with either Disney+ or Hulu, with the former being a more likely candidate given its broader international distribution. Disney+ could also pursue an Adele special on its own.

But CBS has a strong case to make: The Eye regularly delivers some the biggest weekly average audience numbers of any American broadcaster, and Adele’s target demo of People Who Still Buy Music overlaps with CBS’s core demographic of adults between the ages of 25 and 54 (yes, that includes you, millennials). CBS also has ties to fellow ViacomCBS-owned MTV and streamer Paramount+, both of which could be enlisted to get more eyes on Adele. The network has a demonstrated — and most important, recent —track record with aggregating big numbers for specials (Oprah’s royal chat with Meghan and Harry, with over 17 million viewers, is one of this year’s biggest broadcasts). And it probably doesn’t hurt that CBS is closely tied with James Corden and producer Ben Winston: The duo engineered the instantly iconic Carpool Karaoke with Adele and were also involved with the Emmy-nominated Friends reunion special for HBO Max earlier this year. That doesn’t mean they’d be involved in the event, but there would be obvious cross-promotional possibilities.

As noted above, Vulture has only heard chatter of Adele’s reps broaching the idea of a big fourth-quarter TV event to promote the new album. As far as we know, there is no closed deal, and it’s possible her team decides to go another way and opt against a televised concert. But special or not, count on this: Adele, like fellow famous Brit Roy Kent, will soon be here, there, and every-f***ing-where. Reps for Adele and Sony Music did not return calls and emails seeking comment.

When Adele’s Album Drops, a TV Special May Be Close Behind