CBS planning more reality TV, sees football overrun frustration as a sign of an “engaged audience”

More reality TV is being developed by CBS, which has primarily relied upon its standby trio of Survivor, Big Brother, and The Amazing Race for the past 12 years. With the exception of Undercover Boss, which started strong but fizzled fast, especially in terms of buzz, CBS hasn’t launched a successful reality show in years.

“We’re in the fortunate position of having successful, long running franchise shows,” CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler told TV critics this morning. “That is the reality of reality. Those shows Survivor and Race and Big Brother had ratings growth, [and] they continued to.”

Tassler said that “this year going forward in summer, we’re being very aggressive. We have a number of shows in development in the unscripted space that we have early triggers on so we can get them ready and we can have them on the air in fall. We do incredibly well with Big Brother. They had ratings growth last season.”

She didn’t give specifics such as show titles or concepts, but said, “We have a very, very heavy development slate this year in alternative, not only for summer, but next year as well. Our goal has always been in reality, you know, not necessarily follow the same path that everybody else follows. It’s really listening to our audience, knowing what they respond to. Having shows that have a stronger narrative drive seems to work for us better. We’re very proud of the success of our franchise shows, but we do have a very, very a very diverse roster of shows. And there are some competition. There are some performance shows. There are elimination shows. There are closed ended, serialized excuse me, sorry. So you’ll see our focus, as I said before, has been diversity. It’s not necessarily follow the path that everybody else goes down.”

Of course, they’ve been going down the same path with their existing shows for a while, especially with the trend of bringing back former cast members, although Survivor is experimenting with its format, and that’s awesome, even when it doesn’t work.

Finally, asked about how football overruns affected the network’s drama The Good Wife (it also, of course, affects every other show, including perennially delayed Amazing Race), Tassler said, “We do hear from a lot of viewers about the overruns, but that means we’ve got a very passionate and engaged audience.”

Don’t forget: It’s also a very enraged and frustrated audience, too.

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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.