slump in reality TV, by Michael Idato - 12th April
(Credit: The Sydney Morning Herald)
There is no doubt 2004 will be
remembered as the year reality TV faltered. But
the failure of The Resort, and the poor performances
of HotHouse, My Restaurant Rules and Popstars
[Live] are not likely to bury the genre anytime
this month Nine's The Block returns for its second
season, and will be soon followed by a new American
series The Apprentice, in which 16 aspiring suits
compete under the supervision of tycoon Donald
Trump. Both are widely anticipated to be among
the strongest performing shows of the ratings
year. And the strong market buzz for the fourth
Big Brother and the second Australian Idol, coming
soon on Ten, mean most level heads in the industry
have refrained from writing an epitaph for reality
TV too quickly.
fact, with the benefit of hindsight, the poor
dividends for this genre in early 2004 may only
be a hiccup caused by the launch of too many shows,
invariably perceived as clones or hybrids, something
Australian audiences have shown a low tolerance
Block, Australian Idol and Big Brother are widely
regarded as "safe" brands with viewers.
The Apprentice , while a new show, has the imprimatur
of Trump and the production expertise of Survivor
creator Mark Burnett.
Apprentice has been the runaway hit of the year
in the US and last week its ratings overtook CSI:
Crime Scene Investigation in the coveted 18-49
demographic. It holds universal appeal, Burnett
told the Herald, because anyone can relate to
applying for a job, and being fired from one.
series received 200,000 online applications, which
were culled down to 1000 face-to-face auditions
from which 16 finalists were drawn. One contestant
is fired by Trump each week. The winner will run
a Trump company for a year.
The Block, The Apprentice, Big Brother and Australian
Idol are successful it will help repair the perception
that the genre is hemorrhaging and restore audience
and industry confidence, not just in reality TV,
but in the programmers who have been backed into
a corner, often second guessing themselves.
- The Apprentice
to battle the Donald
TV is simply not real