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Sunday, July 24, 2021

It was announced almost two months ago, and now it’s coming to pass: OLN and GSN will commence showing reruns of “Survivor” and “The Amazing Race”, in what amounts to a litmus test for the business of reality TV repeats.

“Is it a guaranteed bet? No,” said Bill Carroll, an expert in the syndication market for Katz Television. “Is it a good, reasonable roll of the dice? Yes. I think they have a good chance of people who don’t normally watch their networks checking them out, without alienating their core audience.”

These shows’ value will be determined with time, if they can draw solid ratings after being on the air 40 or 50 times like I Love Lucy or Seinfeld, he said.

But the implications for television stretch beyond two networks and two shows.

As [reality producer Mark] Burnett explained, syndication money was never a part of the Survivor business plan; you can bet it will be for his shows in the future if it does well. An oddity of television is that many comedies and dramas truly can’t make money for the studios that make them unless they make it to syndication. Will the extra competition make it harder to make new scripted shows?

I was indeed skeptical of the viability of syndicating reality fare, because I was assuming the anticipation of the outcome was part of the appeal. But now, I’m not so sure. If the ride to the end was so entertaining, it stands to reason that fans would want to watch it again and again, re-experiencing key moments. And at root, reality shows are just as re-watchable as any other series television or movie, as long as the audience wants it.

Going by the small handful of friends I have who watch reality shows, I’m pretty much convinced that syndicated runs of past seasons will probably find success. Meaning that OLN and GSN will have gambled right, and roped in a huge new audience.

by Costa Tsiokos, Sun 07/24/2005 06:12:45 PM
Category: Reality Check
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6 Feedbacks »
  1. Fox also has a new channel called Fox Reality (http://www.foxreality.com) available now on channel 250, DirecTV. They are showing a steady stream of reality shows. COPS, The Villa, Last Comic Standing, and a few others. They plan to have more soon. Also, Fear Factor has been syndicated on local stations, I think it’s WB38. My wife is a reality show junkie, so we know.

    Comment by Dave — 07/24/2005 @ 07:13:55 PM

  2. Yeah, it’s looking like I’ll soon have zero reason to watch anything on TV. That’s probably a good thing…

    Comment by CT — 07/25/2005 @ 09:26:19 AM

  3. This is only sorta on-topic, but re-runing “live” entertainment made me think of it. I’m surprised no one has tried to get mileage out of re-running WWF/WWE/WCW matches. There are a lot of archives out there and some people that they can’t show today cause they’ve died or severed their ties with WWE.

    Comment by trumwill — 07/25/2005 @ 04:44:10 PM

  4. My personal perception is that the wrestling rage has crested from the highs it enjoyed in the mid- and late ’90s. I don’t know how accurate that is — mainly based on the friends I have who used to be into it, but have since abandoned it. But I certainly don’t detect the same general buzz over it these days.

    Still, they sell DVDs of old Wrestlemanias, so I’m sure someone (Spike TV?) will try to rerun it.

    And don’t hold up ESPN Classic as an example; that channel shows sports reruns, and (no arguments, please) WWE etc. wrestling ain’t a sport.

    Comment by CT — 07/25/2005 @ 08:24:20 PM

  5. No argument from me. WWE is pure entertainment and I’d lose respect for any sports station that picked it up. I don’t think wrestling is anywhere near what it was (I haven’t watched it in years), but even with less-than-stellar viewership it has the advantage of being incredibly cheap to put out there. One of the reasons I connected A (reality TV) with B (staged wrestling) is that one of the arguments for reality TV is not only the ratings, but how comparatively cheap it is to make.

    The question, I guess, is whether or not it can justify taking up time on satellite. I’d figure so, but people in the know haven’t done it and they know more than I do.

    Comment by trumwill — 07/25/2005 @ 09:13:35 PM

  6. Reality All Over Again

    Based on the posts I’ve seen, re-runs of reality shows seem as good as the original broadcasts….

    Trackback by On Television — 07/29/2005 @ 09:18:40 PM

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