Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Reality TV Success Is All about the Water Cooler

Newspaper article Sunshine Coast Daily (Maroochydore, Australia)

Reality TV Success Is All about the Water Cooler

Article excerpt

DON'T you think that it's strange that Big Brother is watching?

Australian television viewers don't think so. More than 1.5 million people tuned in to watch the Big Brother season nine launch show and a 10th season is locked in for the fly-on-the-wall reality series next year.

Whether it is a bake-off, a weight-loss challenge, or bad kids turned good, reality television shows continue to hook viewers.

Television cameras are making their way into almost every facet of society across the globe. Take Big Fat Gypsy Weddings, Too Fat for 15, Toddlers and Tiaras or World's Strictest Parents for example.

University of the Sunshine Coast communications lecturer Anna Potter (pictured) is putting the final touches on a research paper looking at the extraordinary ratings success of the Australian version of The Voice.

She said the talent quest show heralded the return of the water cooler television programs, a abig stadiuma format that rated well in Australia.

Dr Potter said The Voice attracted three million viewers for Channel Nine in its first weeks in a market already flooded with reality and talent quest television.

aIt pioneered a new type of talent quest and versions of it are being made in 48 countries, so we were curious about how it became so successful in Australia, particularly the way it uses celebrities to appeal to audiences,a Dr Potter said.

aOne answer appeared to be its cultural specificity, portraying Australian-ness through its choice of 50% Australian judges and quintessentially Australian contestants, while still conforming to the transnational format.a

But what types of reality programs get Australian viewers tuning in week after week?

There are two main types of reality television formats: the stadium shows and the ordinary people shows.

aNetworks pay top dollar for stadium shows, but they get the numbers,a Dr Potter said.

aShows about ordinary people such as World's Strictest Parents are much more niche but they also bring in the audience, but it's not the giant water cooler TV that everyone is talking about the next day.a

Dr Potter said the globalisation of television was seeing the same formats copied throughout the world. …

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