HRTS Panelists: Reality TV Changing, But Here to Stay
Producers say as long as there are characters audience can root for or against, viewers will tune in
By Tim Baysinger -- Broadcasting & Cable, 4/12/2011 6:04:28 PM
This was according to a panel of reality producers who were gathered Tuesday at the Beverly Hilton in Beverly Hills, Calif. as part of the Hollywood Radio and Television Society's "Unscripted Hitmakers" Newsmaker Luncheon.
The panelists all agreed that the key to a successful reality show is getting characters that viewers have interest in seeing what they do next. However, they noted the "rooting for the bad guy" craze is starting to die down. "We are looking for more positive feedback," said J.D. Roth, CEO/founder, 3 Ball Productions/Eyeworks USA; EVP, The Biggest Loser and Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Addition. "Everyone is slowly moving towards that area."
In the case of Nigel Lythgoe, EVP, American Idol; co-creator/EVP/judge, So You Think You Can Dance; CEO, Big Red Entertainment, this is especially true. "If you can get the public to support the talent, you have a successful show," he said.
With the bevy of reality television shows out there now, finding something that is new and not a repackaged form of an older idea is a challenge. SallyAnn Salsano, founder/president, 495 Productions; EVP, Jersey Shore, Tool Academy and Disaster Date, believes that the way to find new ideas is to go out and view how people interact with each other and get something from that. "That's how it happens," said Salsano, "you have to, in some weird way, be into what people are doing at all times."
To complicate those matters, the television audience these days is as fragmented as ever, and the Internet continues to have a direct effect on younger people's viewing habits. "They're their own programmers," said Roth. "They control what they watch, when they watch, how they watch, it's a much different world."
Stephen Lambert, CEO, Studio Lambert; creator/EVP, Undercover Boss, The Fairy Jobmother and Wife Swap, thinks the Internet, instead of being a detriment to live television, can actually be an aide. "The biggest use of Twitter is people talking about TV shows," said Lambert.
One thing Lythgoe is thinking of doing with American Idol is placing 360 degree cameras so the viewer can watch the show on television and then control which camera they want to see via their computer, so they feel a part of the show.
According to Thom Beers, CEO, Original Pictures; EVP, Ax Men, Deadliest Catch and Ice Road Truckers, his only concern right now is to make good television and let the network executives figure out the rest.
"It's our job to make these great television shows, and it's all these network executives job to figure out where they are gonna put it and how they are going to monetize it," he said.
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