There were a lot of bold predictions of reality T.V. in the early 2000s when shows like American Idol and The Bachelorette were making money. The world as we know it is coming to an end. In the future, Les Moonves, the CEO of CBS TV, thinks that people will buy less dramatic pilots because they are more attractive. It always comes out that the audience is always right in the end. Sandy Grushow, the chairman of the Fox Entertainment Group, said that it’s up to us to meet their needs. During a meeting with advertisers four months later, network executives said reality shows were nothing more than “schedule fillers,” bad for the network’s image and bad for the company in general.
The inside story
Fast-forward The broadcast networks learned about bad news about 18 months before the November 2004 ratings. For the first time in history, cable networks drew more people in the evening than traditional broadcast networks. During the same period, there were a lot of significant changes: Reality shows were becoming more popular with the younger groups that advertisers wanted to reach, but scripted shows like comedy and drama were still popular with older people. There were six of the top ten and eleven of the top twenty shows on the broadcast. T.V.’s broadcast networks drew the most viewers between the ages of 18 and 49. Even though cable T.V. has more primetime viewers than the traditional networks, reality T.V. was getting young people to come back to broadcast. Before reality came along, this group of people had been “drifting away” to cable channels.
There is a business reason for the data and executive actions that came before. This will be explained more in the following paragraphs. For starters, the broadcast networks had three big problems in the early 2000s. As time went on, they became less popular with people under 35, so they had to find ways to get them to come back. Next, the networks had to cut costs because the cost of making comedic and dramatic shows was going up by 10% a year. Also, the networks had to make money, and the trend there was not good. Fewer ads were sold for one of NBC’s most popular shows, “The Office,” in the 2005-2006 season.
Realistic T.V. was the network’s “silver bullet” that could solve all three of their problems simultaneously. Unscripted and low-cost reality shows have been the lifeblood of free T.V. in the United States since 2005-2006 when broadcasters added 51 shows to their schedules that were reality shows. Those who work in the T.V. business may have found reality T.V. interesting, but it also looks good on their books and balance sheets.
This section gives a commercial and economic look at reality T.V. Every new reality show today has an international element because of business reasons that date back to the 1950s and economic reasons that led to its rapid growth and popularity in the 1980s. In the end, the chapter says that the future of T.V. will be split into two groups: low-cost reality shows, sports, and game shows will be offered by broadcast and cable networks, while high-priced pay services like HBO will keep delivering written drama and comedy.
During the early stages of T.V., reality shows were important.
The sitcom and the drama were the two most popular types of T.V. shows in the 1950s and the 1980s. NBC, CBS, and ABC have formed an oligopoly. This is because of this; there have been a few minor changes, like Three’s Company and Will & Grace stretching the idea of a family, and Hill Street Blues and Grey’s Anatomy adding serial parts. People who study entertainment economics at Harvard say “nobody knows” about broadcast network schedules. T.V. executives know a lot about what has worked and what hasn’t worked in the past. Caves use William Goldman’s analogy to say that their future predictions are no better than a roll of the dice. As a result, there is little reason to try new things as long as the old ones work. Broadcasters got a “demand premium” when the U.S. economy and the number of advertisers both grew simultaneously. There were only three networks and 22 hours of primetime per week, which helped the broadcasters. Advertising prices went up because there was a limited supply and more people wanted to see it.