You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Reboot Mania Makes Its Way to Reality TV

Some of them haven’t been gone long enough to be missed — but all of them are returning.

Reboot mania has spread to the unscripted series arena. Everything from A&E Network’s “Biography” to TLC’s “Trading Spaces” to Food Network’s “Iron Chef” to Discovery’s “Cash Cab” is being revived by hit-hungry networks.

“American Idol” signed off this time last year after a storied 14-year run on Fox. The confetti was barely swept up off the stage before FremantleMedia North America began shopping a revival to Fox’s rivals. NBC is known to be taking a hard look.

“America’s Next Top Model” sashayed off the CW in December 2015, and within six months had relocated to VH1. The show has been renewed for another season, this time with original host Tyra Banks coming back, to boot.

The reason for all the reality TV reruns is the same Marketing 101 factor that drives the endless parade of movie and scripted-TV remakes (not to mention the TV adaptations of movies and movie adaptations of TV series): In an environment with seemingly endless entertainment options, a well-known title stands taller in the crowd. Most prospective viewers already have an idea of what they’re getting, even if the format is inevitably remodeled in some way.

The flood of established unscripted titles also underscores how few new hits have emerged in the reality-competition space. Spike TV has bona fide bragging rights with “Lip Sync Battle,” but that’s about it.

ABC’s success in dusting off the game-show formats “Match Game” and “$100,000 Pyramid” encouraged Fox to recruit Andy Cohen to host a next-generation take on “Love Connection” this summer. “Fear Factor” and “Deal or No Deal” are among the older titles that are poised to be shopped anew.

In this climate, the toughest job in TV is launching a wholly new series format. CBS took a huge swing in January with “Hunted,” in which teams of contestants crisscrossed the U.S. in an effort to avoid a law enforcement-style manhunt. The show struggled to capture viewers and is not likely to be returning on CBS.

The Eye’s next big unscripted bet has a colorful built-in brand borrowed from a different kind of screen: “Candy Crush,” coming this summer.

As popular as they are, remakes and reboots can only go so far. Networks still have to field new players. CBS last week ordered a new series from the “Hunted” team: “Ambulance,” revolving around the life-and-death work of EMTs.

“Things are cyclical in this business,” said Rob Smith, exec VP and head of unscripted for Endemol Shine North America. “Today’s new idea could be tomorrow’s hit format.”

More TV

  • Shekhar Kapur to Direct 'Ibis' Trilogy

    Shekhar Kapur to Direct 'Ibis' Trilogy for Endemol Shine (EXCLUSIVE)

    Acclaimed Indian director, Shekhar Kapur is to direct a TV series for Endemol Shine based on historical novels by Amitav Ghosh, known as the “Ibis Trilogy.” The deal was announced at Series Mania in Lille. The books “Sea of Poppies,” “River of Smoke,” and “Flood of Fire,” are set in mid-19th century Asia. They interweave [...]

  • ‘Lambs Of God’ To World Premiere

    Lingo Pictures, Endemol Shine’s ‘Lambs of God’ Set for Series Mania World Premiere

    LILLE, France — Lingo Pictures Productions and Endemol Shine’s new Australian limited series “Lambs of God,” based on the Australian novel of the same name by Marele Day, world premieres on Wednesday, March 27 in the main International Competition at this year’s Series Mania festival. The series follows three devout nuns, the last sisters of [...]

  • Bruno DEBRANDT (Florent) et Julie GAYET

    Federation Acquires Intl. Sales Rights on Series Mania French Competition Player ‘Torn’

    LILLE, France — Leading French independent production-finance-distribution sales company Federation Entertainment has secured international sales rights on upcoming French psychological thriller “Torn.” The series was created and written by director Lionel Bailliu (“Innocente”)and Yann Le Gal (“Léo Mattéï, Brigade des Mineurs”) and world premieres in the official French competition on March 25 at France’s Series [...]

  • About Premium Content Expands Scope, Rebrands

    About Premium Content Expands Scope, Rebrands as APC Studios (EXCLUSIVE)

    As it celebrates its fifth anniversary, the rising Paris-based TV production and distribution company About Premium Content is rebranding as APC Studios to reflect the expanded scope of its activities. APC Studios, which launched as a sales company in 2014, is now a producer, financier and distributor of upscale projects ranging from scripted to factual [...]

  • Win Rosenfeld, Jordan Peele and Simon

    'Star Trek: Discovery,' 'Twilight Zone' Bring Energy, Emotion to PaleyFest

    Both the CBS All Access shows “Star Trek: Discovery” and the upcoming “Twilight Zone” reboot held PaleyFest panels on Sunday, with both sets of cast and creators bringing energy, humor, and emotion to the stage. Both panels were moderated by Variety‘s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway. First up was “Discovery,” where series star Doug [...]

  • Marvel's Runaways Review

    'Marvel's Runaways' Renewed for Third Season at Hulu

    Hulu has renewed “Marvel’s Runaways” for a third season. Set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, “Runaways” stars Rhenzy Feliz, Lyrica Okano, Virginia Gardner, Ariela Barer, Gregg Sulkin, and Allegra Acosta as the Runaways, six teenagers from different backgrounds who unite against their parents, the Pride, portrayed by Angel Parker, Ryan Sands, Annie Wersching, Kip Pardue, Ever Carradine, James Marsters, Brigid Brannagh, Kevin Weisman, Brittany Ishibashi, and James Yaegashi. The new order is [...]

  • Robert Mueller Report

    TV News Scrambles Schedules in Wake of Mueller Report

    The “Mueller Report” has prompted a bevy of new reports from the nation’s big TV-news outlets. CBS News plotted a Monday primetime special to cover the disclosure of a summary of the report prepared by Special Counsel Robert Mueller that had examined Russian influence on the 2016 U.S. presidential election and probed whether President Donald [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content