In 1997, realscreen published its first issue. Over the past two decades, we’ve charted the evolution of the non-fiction content industry, chronicled the rise of reality, and explored the emergence of new platforms aplenty. In honor of 20 years of realscreen, we’ve rounded up several top producers and network execs to discuss the evolution of your industry, from their perspectives, in our Real Deal Q&A series.
CEO, ITV America
It’s definitely a time of flux for the television industry. What is the biggest challenge for producers in this new paradigm?
Our historical cable and broadcast clients are several years into their business model being stressed, which comes straight to us; and we’re too early into the SVOD story for the uptick in that business to make up for the stress on the former. But positive signs are on the horizon;
either, like music, the new players will become dominant or they’ll decide content is too expensive and the linear players will see the pendulum swing back.
Unscripted is going back to more of its roots, with content being less produced, as the audience is more savvy and expects more authenticity.
On the other side of the coin, what has been the most positive trend in this industry in the past decade?
Unscripted is going back to more of its roots, with content being less produced, as the audience is more savvy and expects more authenticity. This connects as well to bigger names, both in front of and behind the camera, who are seeing unscripted as the fun and creative place we always knew it to be.
Your original production company, Leftfield Pictures, grew in size and stature almost in tandem with the unscripted explosion of the past decade, and was likely key in creating that explosion, with the success of programs such as Pawn Stars. Now that the industry has matured to a degree, what advice would you give to an aspiring producer about carving out a path in today’s climate?
There has been so much change since then that it’s hard now to even compare. The networks expect so much more from producers to get to series. If I were starting a new company, I would partner more to spread my development resources further while drafting off the knowledge of a bigger team.
Let’s get out the crystal ball. In the wake of cord-cutters,mergers and acquisitions, and a bevy of new platforms dabbling in content, give us a glimpse of what you think the unscripted content industry will look like by 2020.
I expect we’ll know by then whether people will take the time to go through the OTT menu to watch unscripted like they have with scripted. It’s only a couple more clicks but we haven’t seen it done on a wide enough sample size to know definitively that the audience will do it in large numbers.
What has been your favorite unscripted program over the past 20 years?
Naked and Afraid – such a clean and fun format.
What words of wisdom would 2017′s Brent Montgomery give to 2007′s Brent Montgomery?
Create a live show around police work and value teamwork ahead of everything else.