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Reality TV contracts: what 7 reality show legal agreements reveal

Reality TV contracts: what 7 reality show legal agreements reveal
A stock photo person signs a reality TV contract, giving away their rights for some fame while their stock photo friends and/or fellow cast members look on. (Photo by Vanalya/Freepix)

To appear on reality television shows, people sign long, detailed contracts that control their behavior before, during, and after a reality TV show’s production.

I’ve reported on several reality show contracts on reality blurred over the years, analyzing the contents, and noticing the similarities and differences between shows, whether they’re for broadcast networks, cable, or streaming. (My first such report was even challenged, though I prevailed.)

The seven contracts you can read below are not strictly NDAs, though they certainly have nondisclosure and confidentiality requirements—and often financial penalties for breaking those, though it’s questionable whether those penalties are enforceable.

They include all kinds of revealing behind-the-scenes details, from specific rules to stipends and prizes. (I’ve separately gathered lists of Survivor secrets and Big Brother behind-the-scenes details, if you want even more of a deep dive on those shows.)

Contestants on competitions give up rights to their privacy and intellectual property, and give up their ability to control their careers and media appearances for a period of time.

Some of the clauses in these contracts make logical sense; others are absolutely bizarre.

Have fun reading them—and thinking about whether or not you’d sign one in exchange for the chance at a prize and/or exposure on television.

Reality TV contracts

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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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