Reality shows have come to dominate today's TV channels. This year, however, has seen ratings decline at some of the most popular reality TV shows. Has the genre lost its appeal?
Meltwater Buzz delves into the views of online communities to answer this question, monitoring the volume of online buzz and sentiment of the online reaction to some of the most popular reality TV shows.
Big Brother was one was one of the first reality TV shows to make an impact on viewers, attracting a cult following and generating plenty of hype. The 12-year-old show has returned to our TV screens this year for its thirteenth series, raking in 2.7 million viewers for the first episode alone. The show managed to beat ITV1, BBC2 and Channel 4 in its Tuesday 9pm slot, attracting a 12.4% audience share - a steady increase from last year’s non-celebrity series.
Meltwater Buzz showed that the live launch of Big Brother on 5 June alone generated 221,488 hits on social media platforms, as seen on the above infographic. 29 percent of conversations had a positive sentiment, 18 percent negative sentiment and 53 percent neutral sentiment. The online public commenting on the show were predominately female (54 percent) and aged between 18-24 years old (43.7 percent). Overall, Big Brother has generated some strong ratings and a lot of buzz, but it should be noted that the show has only just relaunched.
Some reality TV shows have fared less well. The Apprentice, for example, has seen a signficant drop in viewership, attracting its lowest audience since 2007. Online, the show generated most buzz on the day of the finale (3 June), totalling just 7,477 hits.
New singing talent show The Voice is another example of a reality TV show that has struggled. The programme launched to considerable acclaim, with Meltwater Buzz demonstrating that online hype around the show was fairly constant. Midway through the series, The Voice was receiving between 50,000 and 100,000 posts online a day, with a peak of 141348 hits on 9 May.
However, as the infographic indicates, interest in The Voice quickly trailed off towards the end of the series (2 June) with ratings dropping and online buzz losing momentum. Eventually, the planned ‘The Voice Tour’ was cancelled due to lack of ticket sales.
When it came to the finals, Britain’s Got Talent won the ratings battle with The Voice, proving its dedicated following. Britain’s Got Talent’s final show attracted a peak audience of 13.8 million and an average of 11.4 million viewers tuned in, which was more than double that of The Voice’s final (5.6 million).
Online sentiment around Britain’s Got Talent was predominately neutral (86 percent), with most people just posting news and not expressing an opinion. Females between 18 and 24 years old dominated conversations online, unlike conversations on The Voice, which were dominated by males between 18 to 24 years old.
The Only Way Is Essex and Made in Chelsea are a new breed of reality TV show that are often directly compared to each other. However, unlike The Voice and Britain’s Got Talent, these programmes have managed to maintain their ratings and generate a fairly constant stream of interest online.
The steady interest in these shows may come down to the different narrative model they use, utilising dramatic storylines and building recognisable stars. This stands in stark contrast to the many talent contests that dominate reality TV television today.