Show Business 101 – Reality Television

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Show Business 101 – Reality Television

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Your Favorite Reality Shows Go Through An Extensive Development Process Before It’s Greenlit. Show Business 101 – Reality Television Details The Creative Process And The Players Attached.

For a shortcut to our entire Show Business 101 section, please click the links below:

Show Business 101 – Scripted Television
Show Business 101 – Feature Films

It all starts with an idea. A producer, network executive, or maybe you have an idea for an awesome reality tv show. You are ready to pitch to a network, but before you do, make sure you read this article so you talk the talk, walk the walk and present the best version of your reality tv show.

The Talent

Reality TV stars
Reality TV stars from “The Hills” on the red carpet

Talent makes or breaks every reality television show. Sure phenomenal editing and storytelling play a role, but Keeping up with The Kardashians is nothing without Kim Kardashian, The Crocodile Hunter is nothing withing Steve Irwin and Shark Tank is nothing without Mark Cuban and the rest of the Sharks.

Scripted television is anchored in awesome writing, and great acting. Reality television is anchored in the personalities and backstories of the talent involved. Those personalities draw you in and make the show interesting.

The Network

You have your lead talent picked out, you know the world you want to explore, now you have to pick the right network fitting of your masterpiece. Every Network is different. What E! buys is different from what WE buys and develops. Animal Planet is not going to be interested in the same content as BET. Do you get where we are going with this?

E! Pop Of Culture - Atlanta video production services partner

Each network has a specialty, a lane, a brand if you will. Your show is really only going to be right for about 2-4 networks. If you think your show is right for more then four Networks, I’d suggest you research each Network in depth. The last thing you want to do is pitch a show to a network completely off brand. Once you have your network picked out, it’s time to search for a Network Approved production company.


The Production Company

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There are all sorts of production companies. Development companies, physical production, and post production companies. Production companies typically focus on one sector of the industry. Commercial video production, feature films, or television – reality or scripted. These are the major culprits. Smaller companies focus on industrials and various new media content. Companies like ours, Bolt Entertainment, specialize in all forms. Our Development team creates for industry giants JJ Abrams and Paramount. Our physical production crew shoots for Marvel and Fast and Furious, and our post-production creatives create the VFX worlds of Game of Thrones.

If you are not a seasoned creative or executive producer, you will need to team up with a production company that is pre-approved to work with the Network. Being pre-approved is exactly what it sounds like. It means that a particular production company has either worked with that network you are aiming to buy your show, or the Network knows the production company’s reputation is solid enough to deliver a product they will be happy with.


Producers are among the most well-connected people in the production machine. They have ties to Networks, Production companies, and typically are creative development as well and physical production gurus. As a side note, not all producers run production companies. Many are just connect the dots. Moreover, producers may be an additional person you assign points to in the event they are not associated with a pre-approved production company.

Advertising Agencies/Brands

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Advertising Agencies and Brands are the money behind your favorite reality TV shows.

Sure Networks pay for the shows, but every time a commercial is played, Networks have been paid in Advance for Networks running these commercials during your favorite TV shows and films. Different TV shows demand different purchase prices per 15-30 seconds. As a reference, if a brand or ad agency wants to run a commercial during the super bowl, it could be north of 1 million dollars/15-30 seconds. If that same brand or ad agency wants to purchase a spot during Chopped on Food Network, it will have a different value.

These brands and ad agencies buy these commercial spots in bulk so if an ad buy is for 20 runs over a season, you can do the math if each spot has a fee of $100,000.

These are the major players who make up the world of reality television. If you would like to learn more about each facet, make sure to read the entire Show Business series listed at the beginning of this article or contact us. We love hearing from people that are passionate about the industry.

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