Rumors of the death of reality TV have been greatly exaggerated.
Nonfiction formats, from game shows to makeover programs and guilty pleasures of the Keeping Up With the Kardashians sort, are finding new life online. Netflix and Amazon Prime, and to a lesser extent Apple and YouTube, after tip-toeing around reality for years, have fully embraced the genre, commissioning new or rebooted formats and bulking up their libraries with shows featuring shiny floors, baking competitions and people behaving badly.
Netflix has ordered second seasons of five of its new unscripted series, including two break-out hits: comedy baking show Nailed It! and the popular reboot of male makeover show Queer Eye. Internal documents at Amazon, leaked earlier this year, showed its most successful original show to date has been British motoring series The Grand Tour, a nonfiction effort launched in 2016 from the team behind the BBC’s wildly popular Top Gear. Apple scored a hit with its Carpool Karaoke series, a spinoff of the singing-in-your-car-with-stars format created on James Corden’s Late Late Show, and YouTube has found success with Mind Field, a science show created and hosted by educator and YouTube star Michael Stevens.
On the licensing side, Amazon Prime last month signed a deal with sales outfit FilmRise for a mountain of nonscripted TV, including 15 seasons of Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen, all seven seasons of Kitchen Nightmares and seasons one through 12 of Unsolved Mysteries; and Amazon’s U.K. service did a ground-breaking deal with FremantleMedia to take British rights for the relaunched version of American Idol, screening episodes of the show two days after they air live in the U.S.
All good news for reality show producers, who on Monday arrived in bulk in Cannes for international television market Mip TV. For the past few years, the explosion of original drama series — again driven by big spending on fiction by the likes of Amazon and Netflix — has dominated the conversation and buyer buzz.
The introduction this year of a new television festival — CannesSeries, which bookends the Mip TV market — is just another sign of how dominant fiction has become in the international industry.
Reality TV was born at Mip — with the launch of Swedish Survivor-style show Expedition Robinson back in 1997 and later with Dutch show Big Brother — and world-conquering nonfiction has come through Cannes over the years, including American Idol, Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, Dancing With the Stars and The X Factor. But the last time a reality show got pulses racing at Mip was when John de Mol launched The Voice there back in 2010.
Now, thanks to Netflix et al., that’s changing.
(Excerpt) Read More in: The Hollywood Reporter