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Yet another reason to love Netflix: It’s helping to kill reality TV

Updated May 18th, 2015 9:48AM EDT
Netflix Vs. Amazon Prime Reality Shows
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15 years ago, the reality TV craze took off in America and many people assumed that quality television programming was doomed to extinction. The reasons for this were simple: Reality shows were very cheap to produce and were hugely profitable for the major networks. After all, why bother paying professional writers when some gap-toothed goober from Chigger Creek, Texas would happily stuff fistfuls of maggots into his mouth for relative pennies? However, ever since Survivor and Big Brother made reality TV a major force in the entertainment world, something unexpected has happened: Quality scripted TV has gotten bigger, better and more ambitious than ever.

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And the good news is that high-caliber scripted shows such as Mad Men, Game of Thrones and Orange is the New Black look to be a huge part of TV’s future. Why? Because they look like the kinds of shows that cord cutters love to watch more than anything.

Bloomberg reports that both Netflix and Amazon Prime Instant are cool to the idea of producing their own reality TV shows because they just don’t think interest in such content holds up over long periods and thus isn’t useful for building audience loyalty.

“The kind of disposable nature of reality, basically doesn’t have much of a long shelf life,” Ted Sarandos, chief content officer at Netflix said at an investor conference this week. “It hasn’t been a great category for us.”

So it looks like cord cutters are much happier with programs such as Daredevil, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt and House of Cards than they are with a new season of Temptation Island. Those of us who suffered through the early wave of reality TV are more than grateful.

Brad Reed
Brad Reed Staff Writer

Brad Reed has written about technology for over eight years at and Network World. Prior to that, he wrote freelance stories for political publications such as AlterNet and the American Prospect. He has a Master's Degree in Business and Economics Journalism from Boston University.