Reality Producers Should Focus on Creative, Executives Say

Jan 27, 2009  •  Post A Comment

With the economic model for reality television shifting not just yearly but monthly, networks still want to be pitched just on the core creative idea and not on ancillary businesses that surround a show idea.

“If a producer comes in with a pitch and a package like an ad model or products around it, we’re not really interested in that,” said Vicki Dummer, senior VP, alternative series, specials and late night at ABC Entertainment, during a session on reality TV programming at NATPE on
Tuesday afternoon.
Her advice stands out during a time when all sectors of the TV industry are hunting for multiple ways to wring revenue from programs. “It starts with the creative and ends there and if you can build a business around it, that’s fine too,” she said.
Producers need a clear idea of why they’re pitching a broadcast network with a show. Does it come down to the scope, the talent involved or just the budget, she asked.
Content creators also should “listen like crazy” to network feedback if they keep getting turned down on their pitches, said David Lyle, president of the Fox Reality Channel.
While producers and distributors remain locked in an “eternal struggle” between cost and value, it’s important to remember that many of the shows that are No. 1 in their timeslots are reality programs such as “American Idol,” “Dancing With the Stars” and “Survivor,” said Paul Telegdy, executive VP, alternative programming, NBC and Universal Media Studios. “What is the value of the show to what is the cost of the show? Some things are worth the money and others aren’t. If you are getting 20 million people watching a show, they are worth the money.”
The NATPE panel was moderated by TVWeek columnist Josef Adalian.


  1. No more hot tubs, cheesy limos, “enhanced” by jib shots. Why do the great productions have almost “evergreen” staying power?
    great concept, well produced and great casting.

  2. Vicki, you are telling us that the good idea is top priority with ad revenue as an afterthought? Hard to believe.
    There’s just no real useful information here – “if you capture 20MM viewers, it was worth it.” Fabulous.

  3. Bravo! So happy to see people proclaiming “creativity and content is king!” Audiences first and foremost must be entertained and in this economy it’s even more important.Advertisers can still be involved with content but ultimately it’s avout Entertainment.

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