Is Reality TV Running Out of Ideas?

Apr 5, 2013  •  Post A Comment

The reality television business appears to be running out of fresh formats, according to The Hollywood Reporter, which examined the MIP-TV television market before coming to that conclusion.

"Every year program execs descend on MIP-TV hunting for the next big thing in reality TV. But if the new crop of show formats is anything to go on, we shouldn’t expect another revolution,” the story reports.

Said Karoline Spodsberg of Banijay International: “I don’t see anything mind-blowing this year. The trend — if you can call it a trend — is that people are reworking already existing genres and existing shows. Almost everything ‘new’ is set in something we already know and already is successful.”

Examples are ABC’s "The Taste," which combines "Iron Chef" with the blind auditions of "The Voice," and "Everybody Dance Now," a take on "So You Think You Can Dance?" but with flash mobs, the story points out.

“In fact, the most successful ‘new’ format of the past two year has been ‘The Voice’ from Talpa Media, a show that is essentially ‘American Idol’ with spinning chairs,” the piece reports.

Said Jens Richter of Red Arrow: “There are a lot of really new, really great show ideas out there. The problem is the channels have become so risk adverse. For broadcasters its all about: track record, track record, track record.”

The report notes: “Among the dozens of reality shows launching at MIP-TV there are a handful that break the mold. Endemol’s ‘Your Face Sounds Familiar’ — based on a Spanish show — combines the comedy, celebrity and singing competition genres in a format in which local stars mimic the famous singers of all times, from Frank Sinatra to Justin Bieber.

“’Absolute Majority’ from Banijay, based on a hit German format, is a compelling mash-up of political discussion and game show in which politicians compete for the votes of a live audience. … And Keshet Broadcasting’s ‘Remember Me’ puts a new spin on the makeover genre by putting a formerly obese woman back into a fat suit to confront the demons of her past.”

While any of these or another, as-yet-undiscovered, format could become the next big thing, THR reports, “It looks likely that broadcasters will continue to go with the old song and dance — and spinning chairs — for some time to come.”

Added Iris Boelhouwer, head of global creative operations for Endemol: “It’s true nothing at the moment looks like the ‘next big thing.’ But the thing about the revolutionary formats, the ones that change the business, is you never see them coming.”


  1. Can we finally just put an end to the so-called “reality shows?” Enough already!!!

  2. “Is Reality TV Running Out of Ideas?”
    One can only hope.

  3. The concept was bankrupt of ideas before it started.
    Remember Sienfield, a show about nothing? Well it was funny because it parodied the human condition. Reality shows are the opposite, a contrived human condition being made un-funny through bad parody.

  4. Reality may be out of ideas but certainly will always be around. Cheap production period. What else will they program on television? Even dramas are following the same stay with the mold pattern. Another cop show? Another cop drama featuring a character that solves crimes in his or her inner mind? Law & Order: Cleveland? Or more boring comedies about 20/30 somethings living in an urban environment sleeping with more 20/30 somethings? Let’s do another daytime talk program that barely gets a 1.0 rating or another judge show?
    The reality is TV is the same mold all over. Why should reality TV be the same?

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