There Will Be More Reality Programming on Television This Fall Than Ever Before

By Berman, Marc | ADWEEK, May 30, 2011 | Go to article overview

There Will Be More Reality Programming on Television This Fall Than Ever Before


Berman, Marc, ADWEEK


On any given night, both broadcast and cable schedules will be clogged with backstabbers, hoarders, addicts, wannabe performers and chefs, damaged "celebrities," and an endless array of cartoonish fame seekers. One-third of the fall network lineup is comprised of the format, with stalwarts like The Amazing Race, The Biggest Loser, and Survivor, and new entries The X Factor and H8R vying for audience. On cable, more networks than not, in fact, are populated with nonscripted shows, which is cheap to produce and tends to attract the younger-skewing audience advertisers covet.

Once considered filler for the dog days of summer, the genre has fragmented into an array of subcategories like competitions (singing, in particular) and docudramas.

But at its core it's still about voyeurism, about gawking at the twisted as well as the relatable.

"The rise in shows featuring names like Kardashian or anyone from the Jersey Shore tends to resonate because nothing is sugarcoated," says Billie Gold, vp, director of programming at Carat. "When you watch, you realize that no one's life is perfect, and that actually makes you feel good about your existence."

Here are more than two dozen planned fall and midseason entries on the broadcast networks (excluding newsmagazines and sports), and the most buzzworthy cable and summer entries.

Network Reality Stars

America's Funniest Home Videos (ABC)

What started as an inexpensive arena in 1990 for camcorder owners in search of 15 minutes of fame could outlive us all.

America's Next Top Model (CW)

Once the crown jewel of UPN and The CW, Tyra Banks' show is hoping its first all-star edition this fall reignites waning interest.

American Idol (Fox) -midseason

Ten years on the air and still a solid No, 1. No show in television history, scripted or non-scripted, has dominated to this degree so Late into its run.

The Amazing Race (CBS)

Who needs to travel when you have this picturesque Emmy-winning worldwide race a remote click away?

America's Most Wanted (Fox)

The Long-running public service hour has been downgraded to a series of quarterly specials next season. Over 1,000 criminals have been caught to date thanks to John Walsh and company.

The Bachelor (ABC)

It's "Love" TV style, as an ongoing array of bachelors (and bachelorettes in summer) allegedly Look for the ideal mate in this sugary relationship-driven franchise.

The Biggest Loser (NBC)

Inspirational reality at its finest as contestants Lose excess weight and improve their lifestyles--but the ratings are shedding as well.

Cops (Fox)

Fortunately for Fox (and unfortunately for society), this is the one reality entry that will never run out of subject matter.

Dancing With the Stars (ABC)

Variety dances on with this series as more than 20 million viewers tune in each week.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition (ABC)

Spun off from Extreme Makeover, needy individuals build a shiny new house each week.

H8R (CW)--new

Everyday people who can't stand a particular celebrity are paired with that individual In the sea of 25 new fall 2011 scripted projects (14 dramas, 11 sitcoms), this was a standout,

Hell's Kitchen (Fox)

Ever wondered what exactly goes on in the kitchen at your favorite expensive restaurant? Meany chef Gordon Ramsay is happy to Let you know.

Mobbed (Fox)--Series of specials

It's Candid Camera Howie Mandel style, as the energetic host and hundreds of strangers help special guests plan surprises for friends and family members.

Secret Millionaire (ABC)--midseason

Formerly a short-Lived hour on Fox, Secret Millionaire stepped in for Extreme Makeover: Home Edition and improved the Sunday 8 p.m. time period.

Shark Tank (ABC)

Budding entrepreneurs with ideas for businesses (they hope) can't miss have their own weekly arena as the "sharks" invest in them or not. …

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