Dispatches: 'Brother,' 'World' reality skeins invade

BUDAPEST — RTL Group’s RTL Klub and SBS’ TV2 aim to continue the reality phenom, which belatedly hit Hungary last year, with a new season of shows bowing in February.

TV2’s “Big Brother” debuted in September, boosting lagging ratings and spearheading the net’s renaissance.

Thanks to shower scenes and on-air sex, “Big Brother” became an instant hit. Within weeks TV2 announced it had overtaken RTL Klub to become No. 1 in some demographics.

RTL Klub responded with “Valo Vilag” (Real World), which network execs promised would be a family-oriented version of “Big Brother,” but eventually featured nudity and romance to attract viewers.

Reality spelled huge profits for both national nets at a time when a stalled economy had brought hard times to the TV sector. The nets reaped ad-sale rewards as a result of high ratings, and offshoots such as mobile phone text-message and phone-in voting proved huge earners.

However, no one is certain how long the reality boom will last in Hungary. In some markets the genre attention span lasted six shows, in others only three. “It will depend on how ‘Big Brother 2’ does,” says TV2’s Stogel. “Hungarians are definitely aware of reality shows now; the question is whether they will continue to watch them.”

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