The Ultimate Guide To Pitching A Reality TV Show (2022)

You probably came across a reality television show in your life or maybe you grew up a big fan of one.

With so many different shows and different formats, it’s normal to be curious about Reality TV Shows. After all, they’ve been doing really well on streamers and on networks for years. 

Once you have created your reality TV show, prepare a complete pitch deck of it to present it. After it, get feedback from your closest people, and afterwards you can finally pitch it to the companies we are listing in this post.

Let’s take a look at what makes a reality TV show, how to create one and where to pitch your reality show idea.

What Is A Reality TV Show?

A reality TV show is an unscripted (or at least somewhat unscripted) show showcasing real-life situations. 

This genre became extremely successful in the 90s with shows such as “The Real World.” Other shows followed in the early  2000s and became world wide franchises such as “Big Brother”, “Survivor” or “The Voice.” 

As you might have noticed, there are different types of reality TV shows. 

Here’s a look at the most famous variations of a reality show:

  • The dating Reality Show (Love is Blind, The Bachelor, The Ultimatum,…)
  • The Gaming Reality Show (Who is The Mole, Dancing with the Stars, Ink Master, The Voice,…)
  • Cultural Reality Show (Keeping Up With The Kardashians, Jersey Shore, Queer Eye, The Real Housewives,…)
  • Food Reality Show (Top Chef, The Final Table, Nailed It, Hell’s Kitchen,…)
  • Survival Reality Show (Survivor, Alone, …)

What Is The Difference Between A Reality TV Show And A Scripted TV Show?

The main differences between a Reality TV show and a scripted TV show is that the Reality TV show has a very clear goal and end. You cannot keep the participants forever like you would do for a scripted show that could last for years (in most cases at least).

Reality TV shows usually end with one winner who gets something (money, prize, love, …)

In reality TV shows, the participants (usually) keep their real names, professions, age, etc. We see real people surrounded by cameras. In scripted shows, the entirety of each of the characters is created and played by different actors. 

One last thing to note is that a scripted show is usually there to entertain the audience and has clear narrative arcs, while the Reality TV show depends on the contestant and can lead to complete surprises and unexpected moments (such as a participant being expelled for bad behavior).

How To Create A Reality TV Show?

When you create a Reality TV show you want to first think of your concept, write a summary of what the show is about and a clear, marketable logline

Another important aspect of the creation of your show is the format. What is the audience watching week after week, episode after episode.

If we take the Netflix show “The Great British Bake Off” the concept is that we watch a group of amateur bakers compete against each other trying to impress a panel of judges with different assigned recipes or themes.

The format on the other hand would be that every episode/every week, the bakers are given one theme or one specific dessert they have to bake and at the end of the episode, one of the bakers is named as the best of the group, and one the worst of the day. Whoever had the worst dessert gets eliminated. It continues until one baker is left and crowned winner.

If you take a show such as the Netflix show “Who is the Mole”, the concept is that a group of people who don’t know each other find themselves in a location together (for the 2022 version, Australia) and have to work together in different challenges to make money for the pot. But, one of them is “the mole” and is working hard to sabotage the group and make them lose money. But who is the mole? That’s what the contestants have to find out.

The Format would be that mission after mission, the group gets to take a quiz to try to find who the mole is. Whoever is the furthest from the truth in their responses, gets eliminated until there’s only three people standing: two candidates and the mole. In the last episode, the three players left need to name the mole. Whoever finds out who the mole is wins the money from the pot. If the mole wins, he or she makes whatever money was lost from the pot. 

If you take the E! show “Keeping Up With the Kardashians”, the concept is that you will be watching the personal and professional lives of the Kardashian-Jenner family. The format is that every episode there will be its dose of drama, love, fun moments and professional meetings. Shows like this have worked with celebrities in the past, for example: “The Girls Next Door”, “Simple Life”, “The Osbournes.”

And if you take the Hulu show “The Bachelor” in the most watched genre: Love Reality Show. This is what the concept would look like: A single man (bachelor) gets invited to a dreamy location (often a castle) where he gets to meet dozens of women who will potentially become his wife. 

The Format will sound something like, week after week, the bachelor gets to know the women better through organized dates and every week, he eliminates one of the girls during a heartbreaking rose ceremony where whoever doesn’t get a rose, goes home. All that until there are three women left and he will propose to the one he truly loves.

Once you have nailed your concept, logline, summary and format. It’s always a good idea to create a pitch deck just like you would do for a scripted show. 

Your pitch deck will have a stylish title page, the concept of the show with the duration of the show/competition, the location(s), the number of participants in the show, the target audience and the rules that apply to the show (for example, no contact with the outside world). 

On the next page, you will present the summary of the show and its purpose.

The next few pages could be about the challenges, the rewards, and so on. Shortly after, you will want to introduce the type of contestants that will be in the show. Obviously, you don’t have the characters in mind since these will be real people, but you should let the producers know what type of people will be in the show. After all, it’s the people that will make the show binge worthy. 

The very last page of your pitch deck will give your contact information and maybe a short bio “about the creator” if you have other credits that might help get this show made. 

Get Feedback On Your Reality TV Show 

Before you take your reality TV show out it’s crucial to get feedback on it. You want to submit the concept, logline and format to a bunch of people you trust. See how your friends, family, and other writers react to the format. Do they like what they hear? Do they add ideas to it that you could use in your pitch? Does it seem to be an idea that excites them? A Reality TV show needs a strong concept and format to get picked up by a producer or network. 

Additionally, if your reality show can be expanded and become a franchise that can be made globally, that’s even better (and a lot more money for everyone involved in its creation as well). 

Find The Right Producers

When you pick producers for your reality TV show, it’s crucial to pick producers who have done reality TV shows before. 

Avoid producers that have only ever done scripted because they most likely will pass on a reality TV show unless it can be turned into a scripted show.

Luckily, there are several ways that you can find the right producers:

Virtual Pitch Fest is a great resource to find who is looking for what. There are hundreds of companies listed and you can even buy written pitches, meaning you will be able to write a quick pitch to these producers and through VPF, they will have up to three days to answer and either pass or request to hear more.

IMDB Pro is a fantastic tool to find information about any show and any producer, writer or director out there. A great way to find production companies is to look at who is behind similar shows. 

For example, if your show idea is a Reality TV show about love, you can look up all the other Reality TV shows about love (Love is Blind, The Bachelor, The Ultimatum, Love at First Sight, etc.) and find out which producers are behind it. 

Sometimes, these producers will have an email address listed on their IMDB profile which will allow you to approach them directly with your written pitch. 

The TV Writers Vault is an online market where you can put your pitch up online and get in touch with different networks such as A&E, Discovery, Lifetime, SYFY, and more. I haven’t personally used it but I’ve heard about it on several occasions. It’s worth taking a look if you want to put out a Reality TV show idea and need to find the right people to get behind it.

Who Buys Reality TV shows? 

So… right now what companies are buying Reality TV? 

With a quick search, I’m able to find a list of producers (and managers) interested in Reality TV shows such as:

100% Terry Cloth (Chill Factor, I Can’t Believe I’m Still Single)

HEROmation (Happy Feet, Devils Angels and Dating)

Stowaway Entertainment (Top Chef, Blind Date)

Scope Talent Management (Managers)

As far as streamers, Netflix has an entire department dedicated to Reality TV shows (and they’re fantastic!) Hulu, Paramount, CNBC, MTV are all buyers too. And depending on the subgenre, ESPN or History Channel might also be interesting places to contact. 

We’re wrapping up this article by reminding you that what matters the most when doing Reality TV is your concept and format. What will keep the audience wanting more? What will keep the audience engaged? 

Once you have a truly powerful Reality TV idea and a strongly executed pitch deck, get online and look through production companies that have done similar shows. Most likely, they’ll want to hear you out because everyone wants the next bingeable Reality Show. And we can’t wait to watch yours!

The Ultimate Guide To Pitching A Reality TV Show (2022)
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