Scripted TV content ratings wax while reality genre ratings wane?
Variety has a long article up on how early in the fall season some reality franchises are on the wane while several scripted shows are booming and some of the new comedies have thus far been well received.
It’s foolish to sound the death knell for the genre: When the dust settles this season, it will once again be reality TV that dictates the network scorecard. And more so than other genres, reality TV, because it’s a diverse genre, has proven to be incredibly resilient over the course of this decade.
But the ratings are providing a wakeup call to network execs.
Of the top 20 programs in adults 18-49 during premiere week, only one — ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” — was a reality skein.
It’s long been held true that network sales teams would prefer to see mostly scripted fare on the fall skeds, as they still fetch a premium over unscripted wares (save the big vets like “Survivor”). And most network execs — and nearly everybody involved in the biz — would rather see more comedies, because of added income from syndication and other benefits.
But when a reality show is a smash, the upside is enormous. “Idol” has made Fox a dominant demo player for much of the decade, even in years when its scripted stable was slumping. And it has fueled the News Corp. bottom line via albums, online music sales and concert tours.
I suspect this is a theme we will see continue for a while as aging shows continue to diminish; at least until there is another breakout reality hit. But the reality folks feel the same way about scripted content, and rightfully so:
” ‘CSI’ is down, ‘Desperate Housewives’ is down,” one exec says. “Every show on TV is down, barring ‘NCIS’ and ‘Big Bang Theory.’ There’s been no real breakout hit on network TV in any genre over the last five years.