Pitching a Reality TV Show? Read This First

The Ultimate Guide To Pitching A Reality TV Show

You’ve probably come across a reality television show at some point in your life, whether you’re a casual viewer or a die-hard fan. With the plethora of shows and diverse formats, it’s natural to be curious about the world of Reality TV Shows. These shows have enjoyed immense popularity on streaming platforms and television networks for years. If you’ve ever dreamed of creating your own reality TV show, this guide will walk you through the process from concept to pitching it to potential networks.

What Is A Reality TV Show?

At its core, a reality TV show is an unscripted (or at least partially unscripted) series that showcases real-life situations, interactions, and emotions. This genre exploded in the 1990s with pioneering shows like “The Real World.” Since then, it has evolved, giving birth to worldwide franchises such as “Big Brother,” “Survivor,” and “The Voice.”

Variations of Reality TV Shows

There’s a vast array of reality TV show variations, each catering to different interests and demographics. Here’s a closer look at some of the most famous types:

1. The Dating Reality Show

  • Examples: Love is Blind, The Bachelor, The Ultimatum
  • Synopsis: Participants navigate the challenges of dating, sometimes in unconventional settings, with the goal of finding love or companionship.

2. The Gaming Reality Show

  • Examples: Who is The Mole, Dancing with the Stars, Ink Master, The Voice
  • Synopsis: Contestants compete in various games, talents, or challenges, with eliminations leading to a winner or top performer.

3. Cultural Reality Show

  • Examples: Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Jersey Shore, Queer Eye, The Real Housewives
  • Synopsis: These shows follow the lives of individuals or families, often with unique lifestyles, providing an inside look at their daily experiences and interactions.

4. Food Reality Show

  • Examples: Top Chef, The Final Table, Nailed It, Hell’s Kitchen
  • Synopsis: Aspiring chefs or home cooks participate in culinary competitions, showcasing their skills and creativity in the kitchen.

5. Survival Reality Show

  • Examples: Survivor, Alone
  • Synopsis: Contestants are placed in challenging, remote environments, forced to rely on their survival skills, resourcefulness, and teamwork.

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What Is The Difference Between A Reality TV Show And A Scripted TV Show?

Reality TV shows and scripted TV shows differ in several key ways, making each genre unique and appealing to different audiences.

1. Clear Goals and Endings

  • Reality TV Show: Typically, reality shows have a clear objective and endpoint. Whether it’s finding love, winning a competition, or surviving in extreme conditions, there’s a defined goal that leads to the conclusion of the show.
  • Scripted TV Show: Scripted shows can extend indefinitely, with no predetermined endpoint. Characters and storylines can evolve over multiple seasons or even years.

2. Real vs. Fictional

  • Reality TV Show: Participants in reality shows are real people with their actual names, professions, and backgrounds. They live their lives on camera.
  • Scripted TV Show: In scripted shows, characters are portrayed by actors, and everything is scripted, from dialogue to actions.

3. Narrative Arcs

  • Reality TV Show: While reality TV has some structure, it often depends on the contestants’ actions, leading to unexpected twists and moments.
  • Scripted TV Show: Scripted shows follow a predetermined narrative arc, with carefully crafted storylines and character development.

4. Realism and Surprises

  • Reality TV Show: These shows thrive on realism and the element of surprise. Unscripted reactions and behaviors of participants can lead to unexpected drama.
  • Scripted TV Show: Scripted shows are designed to entertain the audience with carefully planned plots and dramatic moments.

How To Create A Reality TV Show?

Step 1: Concept Development

Define Your Concept

The first step in creating a successful reality TV show is to clearly define your concept. What will your show be about, and what makes it unique? Summarize your concept in a concise and marketable logline.

Example:

  • Concept: A group of amateur bakers competes against each other to impress judges with assigned recipes.
  • Logline: “Amateur bakers vie for the title of top pastry chef in a high-pressure kitchen.”
Know Your Audience

Consider your target audience and what kind of content will resonate with them. Understanding your audience’s interests and preferences is crucial in shaping your concept.

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Step 2: Crafting the Format

Establish the Weekly Structure

Determine the format your show will follow on a week-to-week basis. This structure creates anticipation and keeps viewers engaged throughout the season.

Example:

  • Show: “The Great British Bake Off”
  • Format: Each week, bakers tackle a specific dessert theme. At the episode’s end, one baker is crowned the best, while another is eliminated. This continues until a single winner emerges.

Step 3: Create a Competitive Element

Most reality shows thrive on competition. Whether it’s contestants vying for a prize, title, or recognition, competition adds tension and excitement.

Example:

  • Show: “Who is the Mole?”
  • Format: Contestants work together to complete challenges and earn money for a pot. However, one among them is the “mole,” secretly trying to sabotage the group. The contestant who identifies the mole wins the pot.
Incorporate Drama and Relationships

For shows centered around personal lives, interpersonal drama and relationships are essential. This adds emotional depth and intrigue to your show.

Example:

  • Show: “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”
  • Format: Each episode explores the personal and professional lives of the Kardashian-Jenner family, offering a mix of drama, love, and fun moments.
Build Tension and Elimination

In competitive reality shows, eliminations create suspense. Contestants face elimination until only a few remain, heightening the stakes.

Example:

  • Show: “The Bachelor”
  • Format: The bachelor gets to know a group of potential partners through dates, eliminating one contestant each week. The show culminates in a proposal to the chosen partner.

Getting Feedback and Finding Producers for Your Reality TV Show

Step 1: Getting Feedback

Share Your Concept, Logline, and Format

Before taking your reality TV show concept to the next level, it’s essential to gather feedback. Start by sharing your concept, logline, and format with people you trust, including friends, family, and fellow writers.

Key Questions to Ask:

  • Do they find the concept intriguing?
  • Does the logline effectively capture the essence of the show?
  • Are there any suggestions or ideas they offer that could enhance your pitch?
Assess Excitement and Interest

Pay attention to how people react to your concept. Gauge their excitement and interest level. A reality TV show needs a strong concept and format that excites potential viewers and stakeholders.

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Step 2: Finding the Right Producers

Choose Producers with Reality TV Experience

When selecting producers for your reality TV show, it’s vital to pick individuals or production companies with prior experience in the reality TV genre. Producers with a background in scripted content may not fully understand the nuances of reality TV.

Resources for Finding Producers

Here are some valuable resources for finding experienced producers:

1. Virtual Pitch Fest (VPF)

Virtual Pitch Fest is an excellent resource for discovering producers actively seeking new projects. This platform lists hundreds of companies, and you can even purchase written pitches. You can craft a quick pitch and submit it to these producers through VPF, allowing them up to three days to respond with interest or requests for more information.

2. IMDb Pro

IMDb Pro is a powerful tool for researching TV shows, producers, writers, and directors. To find suitable production companies and producers, examine the credits of similar reality TV shows. For example, if your show is about love, look up producers behind shows like “Love is Blind” or “The Bachelor.” Some producers may have contact information listed on their IMDb profiles, enabling you to reach out directly with your written pitch.

3. TV Writers Vault

The TV Writers Vault is an online marketplace where you can showcase your pitch and connect with various networks, including A&E, Discovery, Lifetime, SYFY, and more. While personal experiences may vary, this platform can be a valuable resource for pitching your reality TV show idea and connecting with the right people in the industry.

Who’s in the Market for Reality TV Shows?

As you embark on your journey to pitch a reality TV show, it’s crucial to know who’s currently interested in buying reality TV content. The landscape is dynamic, with various production companies and streaming platforms actively seeking innovative reality TV concepts. Here’s a snapshot of some potential buyers:

Production Companies

1. 100% Terry Cloth
  • Known For: “Chill Factor,” “I Can’t Believe I’m Still Single”
2. HEROmation
  • Known For: “Happy Feet,” “Devils Angels and Dating”
3. Stowaway Entertainment
  • Known For: “Top Chef,” “Blind Date”
4. Scope Talent Management (Managers)

These production companies often work with creators and pitch ideas to networks and streaming platforms. Research their specific areas of interest and see if your concept aligns with their portfolio.

Streaming Platforms

1. Netflix
  • Netflix boasts an entire department dedicated to reality TV shows. They have a track record of producing high-quality reality content.
2. Hulu
  • Hulu is actively seeking reality TV content to cater to its growing subscriber base.
3. Paramount+
  • The rebranded streaming service formerly known as CBS All Access is looking for compelling reality TV concepts.
4. CNBC
  • CNBC has ventured into reality TV with shows like “The Profit” and may be open to fresh ideas.
5. MTV
  • MTV has a rich history of reality TV, from “The Real World” to “Jersey Shore,” making it a potential home for innovative concepts.
6. ESPN
  • Depending on the subgenre, sports-focused ESPN might be interested in reality TV ideas related to athletics or competition.
7. History Channel
  • History Channel has explored various reality shows in the past, including historical and adventure themes.

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