Reality Check is a Deadline feature series covering the players, programs and trends in reality television.
Since Survivor first debuted on CBS in the summer of 2000, Mark Burnett has been and remains one of the leading impresarios of the Reality TV genre that he in many ways created Stateside. Sure Burnett’s had flame-outs like the short lived Stars Earn Stripes, but he’s also currently holding a deck that includes the still strong Survivor 28 seasons in and growing NBC’s The Voice and ABC’s entrepreneurial series Shark Tank. In a genre where longevity and legacy are still being created, Burnett reflects on the state and shifting fortunes of Reality TV, why American Idol has stumbled and how he literally anchors his shows to success.
DEADLINE: Let’s cut to the chase, Mark. What’s the state of unscripted TV in 2014?
MARK BURNETT: The state of unscripted TV is very good, as long as it’s good. That’s the only thing you have to worry about. I always try to think that if you’re given an hour or two of primetime American network TV, you better treat that as if someone’s just given you a $100 million movie to run. No difference, and there’s no free pass. If it’s great, and if it has an emotional connection, for whatever reason, to the viewers, it stays. Particularly, for me, I’m very, very fortunate that The Voice, and Survivor, and Shark Tank all have a clear emotional connection through the TV screen into peoples’ homes. Read More »
More unscripted renewals at ABC. Getting a sixth-season pickup is MVP Shark Tank, which has been driving ABC’s demo ratings dominance on Friday and which has stepped in to fill any hole the network might have open with its well-performing repeats. Sony TV is producing. The Bachelor, from Warner Horizon, has been picked up for a 19th cycle after a controversial but well-rated season with bachelor Juan Pablo Galavis. And the oldest of them all, America’s Funniest Home Videos, has been renewed for a 25th (!), which longtime host Tom Bergeron said would be his last.
There was a lot of up-and-down movement last night. ABC was the biggest gainer, winning with an average of 1.8 rating in adults 18-49, a Friday season high and the network’s best result on the night in year-and-a-half, since Nov. 9, 2012. Opening things at 8 PM was the special Shark Tank: Swimming With Sharks (1.5), matching ABC’s season high for the time slot. It boosted Shark Tank (2.2), which was up 22% from last week to tie a season high. The gains carried over to 10 PM’s 20/20 (1.7, up 21%, 7 million viewers). It featured Barbara Walters’ headline-making interview with Donald Sterling’s confidante V. Staviano though the sit-down came together so last minute that ABC had no time to promote it for bigger ratings. It is getting a major online play.
Related: One Last Get: Barbara Walters Lands V. Stiviano Interview
Look who is getting in the renewal consideration game: CBS’ Unforgettable (1.1) shot up 22% from last week. Given its trimmed budget and half CBS ownership, if it can maintain these levels, a summer/midseason run is not as out of the question as it seemed. Hawaii Five-0 ( 1.2) did only marginally better, down a tenth from last week. Read More »
A judge in Florida has ruled in favor of Sony Pictures Television in a $50 million lawsuit over the reality TV show Shark Tank. “Sony Pictures Television won a directed verdict and the entire case was settled afterwards,” said Sony TV spokeswoman Paula Askanas today. The suit against the producers of the entrepreneurial reality show was filed by Florida attorney Bobbie Cellar. He claimed that he’d hired two of the show’s “sharks,” Daymond John and Robert Herjavec, to appear at an event he called the “Shark Tour,” an expo for people trying to start their own businesses. The suit claimed that Sony Pictures Television coerced John and Hervavac to withdraw from Cellar’s event because SPT didn’t want anyone to think the show and his expo were in any way connected. Cellar was unavailable for comment.
The CW’s new Friday lineup premiered last night, anchored by summer breakout Whose Line Is Is Anyway at 8 PM. The improv comedy opened its second cycle with a 0.6 in adults 18-49 and 1.91 million viewers. That was down sharply from the 1.1 for the show’s summer debut but that opener was boosted by curiosity as it marked the comedy’s return after a six-year hiatus. Last night’s Whose Line edged the summer finale (0.5). It also topped in the demo the second Friday airing of Fox’s Rake (0.5, flat with last week, 1.92 million) at 8 PM. Whose Line’s viewership was the largest for a regularly scheduled CW programming in the hour in almost three years, since the May 2011 season finale of former Friday dweller Supernatural. At 9 PM, Hart of Dixie (0.4, 1.23 million) rose by a tenth in 18-49 in its new home vs. its last airing on Monday and by 19% in total viewers. It tied Fox in the hour in 18-49, facing an Enlisted rerun (0.4) and new Raising Hope (0.4). Read More »