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Potential factors influencing demand for reality TV in the US, UK and India

10 March, 2022

Reality TV is a unique genre that has some interesting and unique factors that influence its success in terms of local and global demand. The United States, India, and the United Kingdom are three diverse markets with significant levels of demand for the reality genre and, while each market’s list of top ten most in-demand shows look very different to each other, their high demand for the genre is similar. This article will cover these levels of demand as well as some factors that could be contributing to the success of the genre as whole. These potential factors include franchisability and cultural familiarity and could be an indication of how an individual reality series reaches a high level of global demand.

Top Reality Shows and Subgenres

The Global TV Demand Awards, powered by Parrot Analytics’ demand measurement system, were presented at the beginning of this year. These awards recognised the shows with the highest worldwide demand in a number of categories over last year. The reality genre had its own category, in which Shark Tank was awarded as the most in-demand reality series for 2021. The series, which is centered around hopeful entrepreneurs as they pitch their business ideas to a panel of investors for the chance to gain funding, had 25.9 times more global demand than the average show for that year. This amount of demand is still reflected in current data, with both Shark Tank and Shark Tank India (the Indian franchise of the series) showing outstanding levels of demand over the past thirty days. The chart below shows these and other reality series with the most demand globally over the month of February.

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With 27.3 times more demand than the average show worldwide, Shark Tank India was the most in-demand reality series over the month of February. The original series, Shark Tank, was third on the above list, with 22.3 times more global demand than the average show, while RuPaul’s Drag Race sat slightly above, with 24.5 times more global demand than the average show. These shows, as well as America’s Got TalentThe Oscars, and Impractical Jokers and their outstanding levels of demand indicate the competition subgenre of the reality series umbrella is still very much in demand.

Another interesting subgenre represented in the above chart is the talk show. Both Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, which had 17.8 times more global demand than the average show last month, and The Daily Show, which had 21.7 times more global demand than the average show, are not only popular on their respective networks but also do extremely well on Youtube. Last Week Tonight With John Oliver, which had been awarded a sixth Emmy last year, has over 8.5 million subscribers on its Youtube channel, while The Daily Show has over 9 million subscribers to its channel. While both shows are based in the United States, their large presence on the Youtube streaming service could be a big factor in their worldwide success.

Demand for Talk Shows in the United States

As seen in the earlier chart, some reality series within the talk show subgenre are amongst the most in-demand reality series at the moment. The United States market, which has had a high level of demand for the subgenre for a number of years now, could likely be driving this and it is interesting to consider how it might be influencing the demand for the talk show theme around the world.

The chart below shows the most in-demand genres in the United States over the month of February. While the reality genre, which is the 52nd most in-demand genre in the United States, is not seen on this chart, the late-night-talk-show subgenre has a relatively high level of demand, with 3.4 times more demand than the average show.

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The United States’ high demand for talk shows can also be seen in their most in-demand shows within the reality genre over the past month. The chart below shows the demand distribution for reality shows in the United States over the month of February. All shows on the list are either within the talk show subgenre and the competition subgenre - with the exception of America’s Funniest Home Videos, which still has competition-themed elements to it. All shows on the chart have outstanding levels of demand.

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Demand for Reality Shows in India

Unlike the United States’ patterns in demand in regard to the reality genre, the ten most in-demand reality series in the Indian market at the moment are almost entirely within the competition subgenre. As shown in the chart below, which displays the demand distribution for reality shows in the Indian market over the month of February, there is an outstanding level of demand for a number of competition-themed reality shows. Shark Tank India, which is also the most in-demand reality series worldwide over the past month, is at the top of this list, with 24.8 times more demand in India than the average show.

The second show on the list, with 13.2 times more demand than the average show in India is Bigg Boss. The survival-themed competition show is also among the top ten most in-demand series worldwide within the reality genre.

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Demand for Reality Series in the United Kingdom

The chart below shows the most in-demand reality series in the United Kingdom over February. At 20.7 times more demand than the average show, RuPaul’s Drag Race is at the top of this list, with The Apprentice (UK) following closely behind with 18.9 times more demand than the average show.

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The Influence of Local Production and Franchises

As shown in the charts above, there are high amounts of demand for locally produced shows within the reality genre within both the United Kingdom and India. This indicates that the success of a reality show could be heavily dependent on internal factors such as cultural familiarity. With that being said, it is likely this factor would be just as important in other markets as well.

While cultural familiarity appears to be a large factor in a reality show’s success, it is also interesting to consider how a show might gain significant amounts of demand outside of its home market. When looking at last month’s demand for reality shows in the three markets above - the United States, India, and the United Kingdom - it could said that, with the exception of RuPaul’s Drag Race and Impractical Jokers in the United Kingdom, reality shows produced outside of the given market have a harder time gaining demand. However, franchises could be an exception to this rule.

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When looking at the outstanding level of demand for Shark Tank IndiaIndian Idol, and Fear Factor: Khatron Ke Khiladi in the Indian market, it is clear that specific reality show franchises, particularly originating in the United States, can do very well within a local market. The chart above, which shows the six dimensions of measurement for the original Shark Tank series, reflects this in its outstanding level of franchisability. This could also be applied to demand for The Apprentice (UK) in the United Kingdom.

While series in other genres may have an easier time of reaching very high levels of global demand, reality shows appear to have a lot more demand within their respective home markets. With that being said, franchisability could be one way around this. With Shark Tank India and The Apprentice (UK) being prime examples, a show that is tailored to a specific market’s culture could be a recipe for success.

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