×
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

  • Can't We Talk About Something More

    Roz Chast Memoir ‘Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?’ to Be Adapted Into TV Series (EXCLUSIVE)

    Famed New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast is taking her sardonic wit to a television screen near you. Her best-selling graphic memoir “Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?” is being adapted into a half-hour television series by Shivani Rawat’s ShivHans Pictures and Ken Kwapis’ In Cahoots, Variety has learned. Emmy-winning writer Sheila R. Lawrence (“The [...]

  • Jesse Redniss Variety Entertainment & Technology

    WarnerMedia Debuts Content Innovation Lab Fueled by AT&T Tech

    WarnerMedia is launching an incubator meant to “combine emerging technologies with content from across its operating units to create new and innovative consumer experiences and businesses,” the company announced Tuesday. Led by Jesse Redniss, Turner’s executive VP of data strategy and product innovation, the WarnerMedia Innovation Lab is looking to integrate its intellectual property and talent [...]

  • Ilha de Ferro - Dante (

    NATPE: 5 Takes on Brazil’s Globo and Its 2019 Lineup

    MIAMI  — In hallowed tradition, Brazilian TV giant Globo unveiled its NATPE line-up on the first day of the Miami trade fair. With scripted and non-scripted promos playing to a thundering soundtrack Jerry Bruckheimer would have been proud of, this was, as ever for Globo, a polished and powerful presentation. But it also said much [...]

  • Live+7 Ratings for Week of Dec.

    Live+7 Ratings for Week of Dec. 31: 'Masked Singer' Premiere Grows by 40 Percent

    The series premiere of “The Masked Singer” continued to pay dividends to Fox in the delayed viewing numbers. In Live+7 for the week of Dec. 31, “The Masked Singer”–which already had the biggest Live+3 gain of any unscripted premiere ever–rose 40% from its Live+Same Day haul in adults 18-49 to a 4.2 rating. In total viewers, [...]

  • Paula Kaplan

    Viacom Digital Studios' Paula Kaplan Expands Role to Oversee Talent for Nickelodeon

    Paula Kaplan, the executive vice president of talent and development at Viacom Digital Studios, is expanding her role to new include overseeing talent for Nickelodeon. Kaplan’s new title will be executive vice president of talent and development for Viacom Digital Studios and EVP of talent for Nickelodeon. Kaplan will report to both Brian Robbins, president [...]

  • THE MAGICIANS -- Pictured: (l-r) Trevo

    'The Magicians' Renewed for Season 5 at Syfy, Adds New Co-Showrunner

    Syfy has renewed “The Magicians” for a fifth season just ahead of the fourth season premiere. The show has also promoted Henry Alonso Myers to co-showrunner for the fifth season. “‘The Magicians’ raised the bar at Syfy and has gained momentum season after season, attracting a new audience to the channel. We are proud of [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Kaye Ballard, Star of 'The Mothers-in-Law,' Dies at 93

    Singer-comedienne Kaye Ballard, who starred alongside Eve Arden in the 1960s sitcom “The Mothers-in-Law” and was among the stars of the 1976 feature based on Terrence McNally’s farce “The Ritz,” died Monday in Rancho Mirage, Calif. She was 93. She had recently attended a screening of a documentary about her life, “Kaye Ballard: The Show [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content