TV Viewers Ready for a New Set of Reality Stars

Reality TV shows continue to be popular with viewers and producers. Advertisers spend heavily on these shows, knowing that viewers tune in regularly to see what their favorite TV families are up to.  The future looks steady for this format, though a recent USA Today report noted that media companies may need to recycle their reality TV stars a little more quickly in order to keep audiences intrigued.

Writing for USA Today, Gary Levin, notes that formerly popular stars like the Kardashians, the Robertsons (Duck Dynasty) and Honey Boo Boo aren’t drawing the huge audiences they once did. One industry expert, Brian Graden, a former MTV programming head, says audiences are watching “for the jaw-​drop factor” but that can grow stale after a while. Other industry watchers wonder if the era of social media could be causing viewers to shrug off the latest reality-​star antics. After all, these viewers are used to seeing just about anything online.

TV programming experts know that audiences might tune in to see something outlandish or unique. But, people are also drawn to TV because they want to lose themselves in a story. These stories require conflict and challenges. In reality TV, critics complain that too many story lines are “contrived.” Viewers can tell when this happens and they’re ready to change the channel at that point. The best way to keep the audience watching may be to come up with fresh families or groups and give them a shorter run.

At least 27% of U.S. adults call reality TV shows one of their favorite types of programming. This audience skews female (61.8%) and young. Over 60% are under age 45, according to AudienceSCAN. These audience members over-​index in their interests for home-​based activities like baking, decorating, entertaining and crafts or scrapbooking. They may be watching their favorite TV stars to get ideas for new projects. Reality TV show watchers are also more likely than average to pay for personal appearance improvements like hair coloring, permanents, or styling, and manicures or pedicures in the next year.  While these consumers watch plenty of TV, nearly 3 in 10 report taking action as a result of a daily deal or seeing an ad on a social network, so they are clearly paying attention to other media formats as well.

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the Audience Intelligence Reports in AdMall.

Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.