January 18, 2008

Ten Things Reality TV Won't Tell You

Writing at SmartMoney.com, Kedon Willis provides a number of interesting observations about the fundamental unreality of what is called reality television. Of particular interest to advertisers is the finding that program producers often do not do thorough background checks on program participants, which has resulted in a number of violent acts and resulting financial settlements. Although the studios use iron-clad releases to avoid legal liability for such missteps, the negative public relations potential for a sponsor is immense. My suggestion: advertisers need to pay special attention to program participant background checks and insist that producers do the same. Other highlights of this very well done piece include the facts that:
  • Reality TV today accounts for 20% of primetime programming on network television
  • Actors are often hired to play the role of real people
  • Celebrities are increasingly replacing 'real people' in these shows
  • One hour of Reality TV costs as little as $1 million per hour vs. $3 million for each episode of a dramatic series
  • Because these programs can draw audiences as higher or higher than dramas, they are very profitable for the networks and have thereby earned an enduring place in future programming schedules


David Reich said...

I also wonder how "real" reality TV is, just because there's a TV crew there. How much of what we see is exaggerated behavior by participants, in hopes they get more than their 15 minutes' worth? Or what do people hold back because they know their every word and move is being recorded?

It's all a show... entertainment, and probably not very real. As you say, Gene, the profits for the nets are real.

Gene DeWitt said...

Yes and the possible negative publicity resulting from not properly vetting participant backgrounds could be a serious issue for sponsors. Good to hear from you David.