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Trends: Reality Hits DVD

Given the success u.s. broadcaster A&E has enjoyed with its 'real-life programming,' A&E Home Video plans to release four of the shows on dvd by year end. Steve Ronson, senior vp of AETN Enterprises, confirms that the Criss Angel: Mindfreak dvd is due out in November, Inked will be etched on Christmas wish lists, and Growing up Gotti will grunt and mumble its way onto shelves in Q1 of 2006.
September 1, 2005

Given the success U.S. broadcaster A&E has enjoyed with its ‘real-life programming,’ A&E Home Video plans to release four of the shows on DVD by year end. Steve Ronson, senior VP of AETN Enterprises, confirms that the Criss Angel: Mindfreak DVD is due out in November, Inked will be etched on Christmas wish lists, and Growing up Gotti will grunt and mumble its way onto shelves in Q1 of 2006.

Major retailers have been quick to jump on the trend. Reality show DVDs are doing well at Wal-Mart, where the number of related DVDs will swell with the genre’s popularity. Barnes & Noble.com has enjoyed consistent sales for titles including the first few Survivor seasons and last year’s The Apprentice, and has been surprised by the success of Laguna Beach and Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica.

Ronson says the deluge of feedback from fans curious to learn more about the characters in its real-life shows was a signal to get the programs on DVD. ‘There are a lot of nuances in the show,’ expands Ronson, ‘so they want to go back and revisit some of the episodes – they remain evergreen.’ As a result, bonus materials like behind-the-scenes footage and outtakes are key added value elements.

Since A&E has met its targets for reality DVDs, Ronson says, ‘We look forward to them becoming a more significant piece of our portfolio for our DVD business. We think the genre is growing in popularity, and our intent is to release all of the A&E real-life series on DVD.’

Dog the Bounty Hunter:
The Best of Season 1

‘This show was the highest-rated in A&E’s history,’ says Ronson. ‘We try to [get DVDs out] at the peak of consumers’ interest – not too late to have missed the excitement, but certainly after enough time for the show to have built an audience.’ Bonus features: an episode from the A&E series Take This Job called ‘Catch ‘em if you can,’ which inspired the idea for Dog

Airline: Season 1
Airline was instantly successful,’ says Ronson. ‘Especially for consumers who were Southwest Airlines patrons. It only grew in interest over time, and we were very excited to move it to DVD.’ Bonus features: original on-air promos; cast bios

Musical Spin Off
Ancillaries from reality shows take many forms. The ‘Rock Star: A Night at the Mayan Theatre’ CD, inspired by Mark Burnett’s Rock Star: INXS series, includes tunes like ‘Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door.’ Released through Epic Records/Burnett Records, the album will likely see Burnett knockin’ on the bank’s door.

Soft-core Spin Off
If you thought the night-vision camera scenes in Survivor were steamy, you haven’t seen its soft-core spoofs Erotic Survivor and Erotic Survivor 02 – two of many DVD spoofs of the popular format. Another parody is Survivor Beach House, chock full of bikini-clad contestants playing pudding wrestling and twister. Is imitation still the greatest form of flattery if it involves strip teases?

About The Author
Selina Chignall joins the realscreen team as a staff writer. Prior to working with rs, she covered lobbying activity at Hill Times Publishing. She also spent a year covering the Hill as a journalist with iPolitics. Her beat focused on youth, education, democratic reform, innovation and infrastructure. She holds a Master of Arts in Journalism from Western University and a Honours Bachelor of Arts from the University of Toronto.

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