Fear Factor’s season debut included plenty of product-whoring

Fear Factor‘s sixth season features themed episodes. But during last night’s season premiere, we learned that the new season will apparently have one big theme: product whoring.

The show’s NetZero-branded clock has been present before, as have mentions of sponsors who provided prizes or other support. But this episode seemed to take it to an extreme.

In addition to a possible million dollar prize, the winning pair also won a trip to Universal Orlando. How did we know? Host Joe Rogan said “Universal Orlando Resort” nine times, by my count, and that doesn’t include the dozens of shots of the Universal Orlando Resort logo, nor the commercials for Universal Orlando Resort that aired between segments but featured the Fear Factor theme song. Joe also told us everything we needed to know about the resort when describing the prize. Not coincidentally, NBC and Universal merged last year, and at least one upcoming episode will be set at the Florida resort.

Later, the new home invasion segment aired, sponsored by Capital One. We knew this because the home invasion segment’s logo includes the name Capital One. The participants competed for not one but two Capital One credit cards, and for a large part of the segment, a Capital One logo appeared as a bug in the lower left-hand corner of the screen.

Product placement is fine, and it pays the bills. But when it’s more memorable than the rest of the show, something’s not quite right.

about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.