"We believe that 'reality' is simply one facet of a changing television entertainment model: an anodyne not a panacea," the report states. "We are already seeing some series such as ABC's All American Girl and Fox's Married By America, underperform expectations."
On the dawn of a new upfront season, the MindShare report sets out benefits to networks as well as advertisers. Networks have been able to tout huge savings in productions as well as huge gains in what used to be weak time slots. In the time slot Joe Millionaire ran in for Fox this year, it beat last year's Girls Club by an index rating of 515. Advertisers, on the other hand, have taken advantage of unprecedented new product placement opportunities as Coke did with American Idol.
The report breaks new ground in its analysis of marketplace implications. It hints that the more outrageous reality concepts may have seen their day. "The more outrageous concepts, though, face a hurdle in attracting advertisers," it said. "Some advertisers steer clear of concepts that push the envelope, deeming them content-inappropriate. This can depress demand and pricing even for ratings performers."
And because ratings are no longer everything, the pricing for reality TV could change as well. "Advertisers wary of participating in certain exemplars of the genre - for a host of reasons - draw no benefit from the higher rating, and might be penalized by higher pricing for potentially lower commercial inventory in 'safe' scripted series."
Bottom line, says the report, consider not just the theme of the reality TV show but also the execution.
Reality programming will continue to explode, the report said, over the next few months through the summer and then will wane. It will likely continue as a mid-season or summer season staple.