The Critical 'I'

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Sunday, August 15, 2004

REALITY CHECK: WHEN CHANNELS ATTACK
Over a year ago, we got wind of an all-reality channel called Reality Central. Plans continue afoot with a new name (Reality 24-7), as well as plans for a rival channel from Fox.

Despite the industry experience and the slight headstart, it looks like 24-7 is going to get wiped out by Fox's venture:
Fox and its related studios have plenty of programming to choose from, including "The Simple Life" and "Joe Millionaire." Old Fox series such as celebrity boxing and "When Animals Attack" are on the shelves, ready to be dusted off.

Fox-affiliated companies operate all over the world; Vinciquerra has access to a dozen versions of "Temptation Island" from different countries, he said...

Fox's parent, News Corp., owns Direct TV, so it's likely that satellite provider will offer Fox Reality from its beginning. News Corp. is a behemoth in the industry, with a formidable track record of starting successful networks like the National Geographic Channel, Fuel and the Speed Channel.
Still, I wonder how much life the standard contest-based reality show has in rerun form:
Many reality series draw strength from being serials, leaving those in the industry to wonder how much interest there will be in "American Idol" reruns, for instance, when everybody knows who won.
And that's not even considering whether the reality genre is going to stay strong. It's hot now, but so was "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" not so long ago; the gameshow resurgence it spawned is long since spent.

I expect the Fox reality channel to survive as an outlet, but only because New Corp. will push it as part of a multichannel package. It'll eventually become a dumping ground for all sorts of half-baked projects and thinly-veiled infomercials.