The rise of “reality TV”

It comes to no surprise to those that know even a little bit about the television industry that the industry is hurting. It is even less of a surprise that reality television shows are popping up everywhere. However, some television viewers don’t know why. There are few main reasons:

  1. Reality shows are cheaper to produce. Sitcoms and dramas can cost a minimum of $1 million per episode – which can translate to around $22 million per season – while reality shows cost a fraction of that.
  2. Shows like Survivor and American Idol prove to be ratings hits as well. They become water cooler talk and end up on covers of numerous magazines.
  3. Even if ratings aren’t the greatest – here’s looking to you Wipeout! and Minute to Win It! – they are still cheaper than the same rated sitcom or drama (refer back to number one).

However, while this may be great for a television station like FOX (home to Idol) or ABC (home to Dancing with the Stars), the average viewer would rather see more Modern Family or NCIS than another version of a competition based show.

The main question is, how do we fix this? Little can be done. Watching more shows on cable (FX, USA, TNT, etc) can help show the networks that viewers like shows with substance, but unless you own a Nielsen ratings box, just keep writing to your networks.

For those of you watching The Hills or Jersey Shore, you aren’t helping either. These shows (which really aren’t reality by the way) attract many viewers as well and I’m sure we’ll see numerous attempts to cash in on these shows soon enough. Just remember, if you want to see more shows like Farmer Wants a Wife (the lovely CW show that came a few years ago), keep your viewing habits the same. If you are like me, though, we need help fast.

Categories: Television

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