NBC’s reality focus is “just a strike-informed reality”

NBC is having success with its new reality shows, such as American Gladiators and The Celebrity Apprentice, which saw higher ratings than the scripted shows that it replaced. And its movement toward an emphasis on these kinds of shows is indicative of an overall shift.

What does this mean for NBC’s scripted series, such as The Office, which used to occupy the timeslot now taken by Donald Trump? Not much, according to its chair. “We are not putting more reality on,” Ben Silverman told the Los Angeles Times. “It’s just a strike-informed reality.”

Still, scripted shows “account for just 2 1/2 hours a week, or about 11% of NBC’s schedule,” the paper reports, and more reality shows are coming. And “Shari Anne Brill, analyst at ad firm Carat, dubs what’s happening at NBC a ‘descent from class to crass.’ And it’s hard to argue when much of the programming looks more fit for a second-tier cable network than the onetime No. 1 broadcast powerhouse.”

But the LA Times’ Scott Collins argues that “the old legacy-network horse race is closed, out of business. It no longer matters who’s first or who has the ‘best’ shows, if such a thing can be definitively determined. If people want quality shows on demand, that’s what DVDs are for. What matters now, at least according to Zucker and other tub-thumpers for industry change, is to leverage as many outlets as possible — broadcast, cable, Internet — and to accumulate all those sliced-and-diced audiences into a series of potential ad ploys, sponsorships and placements that can complement the typical 30-second commercial.”

TV’s grave new world [Los Angeles Times]

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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.