Thursday, January 30, 2003

Reality TV

Most scripted TV shows make the bulk of their money from syndication (i.e. reruns). In fact, TV shows are a tough business because, when they are new, the networks (distributors) hold all the power and can negotiate a low price and when/if they become popular, the star actors hold all the power and walk away with all the profit. Ensemble shows, like "Homicide", tackle this by not having any one actor be particularly important and hiring good writers (writers are very substitutable, and are a dime a dozen, so they stay cheap).

Reality TV shows are very cheap to produce, and so don't need syndication to make a profit. This Times article (yada yada) talks about how this is changing studio buying patterns but also quotes network managers saying that it will slow the audience defection to cable, which has been going on now for about 30 years. I don't see why cable channels cannot have reality TV shows of their own.

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