×

Reality TV Chiefs Discuss Controlling IP and Finding Successful Formats

Several top unscripted TV executives and producers descended on the Variety TV Summit Wednesday to break down how the genre has impact the entertainment business.

Rob Wade, Fox Entertainment’s president of alternative entertainment and specials, said having successful formats is clearly a good thing, but it does come with drawbacks from an economic point of view. He explained that finding and pushing new IP is essential for moving the cultural conversation forward as well as ensuring a strong bottom line.

“One of the things we need to be aware of is that the deals that were done on shows 10, 15 years ago are not the deals that you do now,” Wade told Variety’s Michael Schneider. “To move forward as a media company, we do need to start controlling more IP. At Fox we’ve started our own production entity and the reason for that is simple economics.”

ABC Entertainment’s senior vice president of alternative series, specials and late-night programming Rob Mills went into ABC’s recent crop of revivals of hit unscripted shows like “Match Game,” “The Gong Show” and most recently “Press Your Luck.” Mills said the trend started “accidentally” after the network hit it big with “Celebrity Family Feud” with Steve Harvey and from there it was a “natural evolution.”

“You see it certainly in both features and TV that nostalgia is really playing again, whether it’s true reboots of things or something like ‘Stranger Things’ that just feels like it existed 30 years ago,” he said. “This was certainly the same category. ‘Press Your Luck’ was right in that ’80s wheelhouse of people saying, ‘I miss that show.'”

One thing all of the panelists agreed on was the importance of co-viewing. Digital cable and satellite television network UPtv is focused on finding uplifting programming that the whole family can enjoy, according to the network’s executive vice president and general manager Amy Winter.

“We have researched an audience that we call ‘upsiders,'” Winter said. “There’s about 40 million people. We’ve talked to 16,000 of them. What they’re saying is they really want something they can feel good about watching and they’re not seeing enough of it. We made a promise to our viewers that through our reality programs, through our movies that we make, through the acquired shows that we get we will commit to feel-great content that you can share with your family.”

Leading unscripted producer Arthur Smith of A. Smith and Co. currently produces long-running unscripted hits like Fox’s “Hell’s Kitchen” and “American Ninja Warrior” for NBC, but said he understands such shows need to evolve to stay relevant.

“The genre has evolved and it continues to evolve,” he said. “It’s not only in terms of what the programs are but how we produce them. We’ve been doing ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ for a long time…but the show is different. It’s a little more raw, less produced. Gordon still has his edge. He’s still Gordon Ramsay. But it’s not like the way it was. The genre has evolved and we have to keep listening to the audience and understand what’s going on around the world.”

Popular on Variety

More TV

  • Nordisk Film & TV Fond Announces

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond Backs Joachim Trier, Ole Bornedal, Yellow Bird

    Nordisk Film & TV Fond has announced three features, two series and a documentary set to receive $1.4m in financing, as well as distribution, dubbing and cultural initiative support recipients. Doing so, it highlights some of the key titles moving forward in the Nordic region. Already backed by the Danish Film Institute’s largest ever grant [...]

  • TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley' Final

    TV News Roundup: 'Silicon Valley's' Final Season Sets October Premiere Date

    In today’s roundup, “Silicon Valley” returns to HBO on Oct. 27 and Quibi greenlights a new cooking competition show “Dismantled.” DATES The fifth season of Netflix‘s “Peaky Blinders” will premiere on the streamer Oct. 4. The newest season will continue to follow one gangster family in the lawless streets of Birmingham, UK during the midst [...]

  • Peter Fonda Dead: 'Easy Rider' Star

    Peter Fonda, Star of 'Easy Rider,' Dies at 79

    Two-time Oscar nominee Peter Fonda, who became a counterculture icon when he co-wrote, produced and starred in seminal 1969 road movie “Easy Rider,” then showed Hollywood he could act about three decades later in “Ulee’s Gold,” died on Friday from lung cancer at his home in Los Angeles. He was 79. His sister Jane Fonda [...]

  • CineLink Drama Brings High-End Series to

    CineLink Drama Brings High-End Series to Sarajevo

    When the organizers of the Sarajevo Film Festival’s CineLink Industry Days surveyed the local TV landscape several years ago, they recognized the chance to make an impact. “We decided five years ago that we need to do something,” says CineLink industry coordinator Armin Hadzic. “The [regional] TV and public broadcasters were coming from another age.” [...]

  • SCHOOLED - ABC's "Schooled" stars Bryan

    'Kids Are Alright' Creator Joins 'Schooled' Season 2 as Showrunner

    Tim Doyle is taking over as showrunner and executive producer on the upcoming second season of “Schooled” at ABC, Variety has confirmed. Doyle takes over from Season 1 showrunner and series co-creator Marc Firek, who has exited the series to focus on development. The news comes just months after Doyle’s 1970s-set comedy series, “The Kids [...]

  • Matthew Miller'Lethal Weapon' TV series screening,

    'Lethal Weapon' Team Lands Put Pilot Order at Fox for Cop Drama 'Dead Eddie' (EXCLUSIVE)

    Matt Miller and Alex Taub are staying in business with Fox. The pair, who previously worked together on Fox’s series adaptation of “Lethal Weapon,” have scored a put pilot commitment at the broadcaster for a new drama project, Variety has learned exclusively. The drama is titled “Dead Eddie.” In the series, after a near-death experience, misanthropic [...]

  • Krypton Syfy

    'Krypton' Canceled After Two Seasons at Syfy, Network Not Moving Forward on 'Lobo' Spinoff

    “Krypton” has been canceled after two seasons at Syfy. In addition, the NBCUniversal cabler is not moving ahead with a planned “Lobo” spinoff. “Krypton,” set two generations before the destruction of Superman’s titular home planet, follows Superman’s grandfather Seg-El (Cameron Cuffe) as a young man faced with saving his home planet or letting it be [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content