Commentary

Hello, Scripted 'Premium' TV -- Goodbye, Reality TV?

Find in these numbers the true measure of reality TV this season: This fall you’ll see 11 new dramas and eight new comediesfrom broadcast TV networks, versus 12 new dramas and eight new comedies of a year ago. And reality shows? Zilch. No new reality shows this fall; none last fall.

There is some mid-season reality fare coming, but none for the key fall start of the season.

This doesn’t mean reality shows are taking a backseat. Far from it. Existing big reality shows -- “The Voice,” “Survivor,” “The Bachelor”   and “Dancing with the Stars” -- offer up good numbers. And then there is the summer -- including “America’s Got Talent” and “So You Think You Can Dance?” and other fare.

For the current season, NBC’s “The Voice”  averages a Nielsen 2.9 live program/same day 18-49 rating and 11.6 million overall viewers. ABC’s “The Bachelor” earned a 2.4 rating and 8 million overall viewers.  CBS’s best this past year comes from “Survivor: Kaoh Rong,” averaging a 2.01 18-49 rating and 8.9 million overall viewers.

Fox will be looking for a big replacement for its reality efforts. It still earned a nice 2.25 rating in 18-49 and 9.2 million overall viewers for the last season of “American Idol.” Its best results after “Idol” was“MasterChef Junior” -- well down the list at 1.24 18-49 average rating and 4.1 million overall viewers.

But listening to TV network programming chiefs, you might believe doing more scripted shows could be better business -- especially with new digital deals for Netflix, Hulu and the rest. Not many -- if any -- reality TV shows have rerun value on these digital platforms.

Then think about the rise of other “premium” content on prime time, especially NFL games, which may also be pushing possible new reality shows off the schedule.

When the age of the network reality show started up around 2000 with the first “Survivor,” many advertisers initially viewed reality series as less than “premium” TV network content.

Now think about what TV network executives have been recently discussing when it comes to  new digital video platforms -- that many provide less than “premium” content. Maybe some sub-premium TV content also exists on big screen network schedules as well.

1 comment about "Hello, Scripted 'Premium' TV -- Goodbye, Reality TV?".
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  1. Ed Papazian from Media Dynamics Inc, May 23, 2016 at 1:53 p.m.

    The vast bulk of TV's reality fare---mostly in original, made-for-TV form--- is on cable, not the broadcast networks and cable accounts for the lion's share of reality viewing, which, by the way amounts to 13% of the average adult's total time spent with "linear TV".  Only movies and dramas top the reality genre in this repect----but only by a percentage point or two. Because of it's relatively low programming cost versus "scripted" fare, reality is here to stay---in one form or another--and may eventually become a SVOD staple as well.

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