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A few of Netflix’s 50+ reality series coming this year

A few of Netflix’s 50+ reality series coming this year
Ramon Rivas II on Netflix's forthcoming Cooking on High, on which contestants cook with weed. (Photo by Netflix)

“One in three subscribers watch Netflix unscripted shows monthly,” according to Netflix’s unscripted executive, vice president Bela Bajaria. That’s what she told Vulture’s Joe Adalian as part of his deep dive into the company: Inside the [Netflix] Binge Factory.

It offers a lot of behind-the-scenes information about how Netflix works. For example, Netflix cares less about total numbers of viewers than they care about how many people have watched within the first four weeks.

And they also care about “survivorship,” which measures how “many subscribers turn a show off midway through an episode and never return, or watch a couple episodes and then bail,” Adalian reports—adding that low survivorship “might be just as bad, or maybe even worse, than not having a big audience.”

Adalian has been following up his longer report with even deeper dives into parts of Netflix’s business, including, today, reality TV: Behind Netflix’s Major Push Into Unscripted Television.

It’s “major” because there are “up to 50 reality and talk shows slated to launch this year and more in the works for 2019,” Adalian reports, and his story includes details on some forthcoming shows.

What’s coming ranges from live, interactive TV, such as American Idol, and also shorter, quicker shows. A few highlights:

  • Magical Elves, which created Netflix’s super-fun Nailed It! (and Top Chef), will produce a show called Sugar Rush judged by Adriano Zumbo (of Zumbo’s Just Desserts, the Australian show) and Candace Nelson.
  • Cooking on High, which debuts June 22 and is a cooking competition involving marijuana—which may be even more notable for having 10-minute long episodes.
  • Westside is produced by The Great British Bake-Off producers Love Productions, and will reinvent the docu-soap—in part by having the cast sing spontaneously. Adalian quotes Netflix executive Jenn Levy, who said the show is “a really never-done before approach to a docu-soap. It tells the story of nine aspiring musicians living in Los Angeles, working together, hanging out together. There’s character development and plotlines you find in some of our best scripted series. But it’s all done in a really raw and authentic way. The hook is, they also break into song. Think The Hills meets La La Land or Glee with a whole lot more edge.”

I’m very intrigued by that, in part because it’s something new.

But I’m even more excited by something Netflix VP Bela Bajaria told Adalian about Netflix’s culture:

“There’s such a speed here — of efficiency, of decision-making — and there’s a lack of process and layers. There’s just a quickness and a nimble, ‘Let’s try something, let’s make something.’”

That’s the opposite of the fear-driven, risk-averse climate in which reality TV is currently being produced for broadcast and cable. I’m looking forward to seeing what emerges.

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About the author

  • Andy Dehnart is the creator of reality blurred and a writer and teacher who obsessively and critically covers reality TV and unscripted entertainment, focusing on how it’s made and what it means.

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