Big Reality TV Performers On Broadcast TV Have Seen Better Days - What's Next?

Reality TV on broadcast TV: Does it need a facelift?

The five top reality TV shows might be long in the tooth -- very long.

Some of the top shows have been around for about two decades. This includes CBS' "Survivor" (22 years), ABC's "The Bachelor" (20 years), ABC’s "Dancing With the Stars" (17 years), and ABC’s "American Idol" (20 years).

This is not to say these shows don't have long-lasting appeal. Viewers cling to some easy-to-understand concepts: A music competition show, a dance competition show, a romance competition show.

Two of the top five can be fueled with some star power -- “Dancing” and “American Idol.” Add two more if you like -- Fox’s "The Masked Singer" and NBC’s "The Voice."

The downside is that these longtime reality shows don't have legs to move into the streaming space -- at least in terms of the value of previous seasons' content.



We haven’t talked much about mostly summer reality shows that also have been around for some time -- NBC’s "America’s Got Talent" (16 years) and Fox’s "So You Think You Can Dance?" (17 years).

Summer is still a fertile ground for experimenting with new reality and game concepts, such as NBC’s “American Ninja Warrior'' (13 years) and ABC’s “Holey Moley” (3 years) on ABC.

A lot has been said about the low cost of producing reality TV. That is probably still a thing. But it doesn’t seem that reality TV is making much of a mark on premium streamers yet.

Netflix has a few seasons' worth of "Love is Blind," "Selling Sunset," and "The Circle." But in terms of big, high-impact programming -- hours viewed, a popular Netflix measure -- the most bang for the buck seems to come from the likes of "Stranger Things," "Ozark," "Squid Game," and the like.

Perhaps we should be reading the room.

Gone are the days when reality shows were at the top of the ratings heap of broadcast TV. "The Masked Singer" was the last one to grab one best result among key 18-49 viewers -- in the 2018-2019 TV season it averaged a 3.8 rating.

The just-completed 2021-2022 season saw"Singer" score significantly lower with a 1.2 rating. Other shows are in the same ballpark: "Survivor" (1.3), ABC’s "The Bachelor" (1.1), "Dancing with the Stars" (1.1.) and "American Idol" (1.05).

What should be expected of the prospect of reality shows for broadcast TV in a streaming world full of exponentially increasing options?

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