Reality shows hit their stride

Newsroom 15/07/2008 | 15:46

“The reality show is in construction as a genre in Romania,” says Maria Popescu, brand communication & PR manager at Kanal D. The format, which was first introduced in Romania by Prima TV via the Big Brother show, has caught on like wildfire and now there are many channels that have at least one if not three or four reality shows. “In other countries this kind of program has reached maturity and this is reflected in the audiences,” says Popescu.
The most successful reality show in Romania at this point is “Nora pentru Mama” (Daughter-in-Law for the Mother), which focuses on the relations between brides-to-be, their significant others and their mothers-in-law. After a long selection period, the winning couple receives a significant sum of money, plus a dream wedding and honeymoon.
The show goes out on Kanal D, part of Dogan Media International which is the subsidiary of Dogan Yayin Holding, the largest media group in Turkey. The channel was launched in February 2007 and immediately started broadcasting “Nora pentru Mama”, which is the longest-running reality show so far and will reach its third season this fall.
Kanal D also has a summer treat for fans of reality shows – Magic Taxi, a show in which 16 finalists out of 31 competitors will have to do their best to fulfill someone's dream or to successfully solve a complicated social case after which they are rewarded with a prize. And the station will shortly get two new reality shows: “See What You Choose,” which aims to reveal the criteria which young people apply when choosing their mate and “Single Mothers.”
B1 TV also has in its schedule reality shows including the controversial “By Monica Columbeanu”, which follows the life of businessman Irinel Columbeanu and his wife Monica, and the equally controversial “Interzis” (Prohibited), a late night reality show with Laura Andresan, known for performing in adult movies. This reality show attracts the largest ratings of viewers with higher education.
Euforia TV also has adopted the reality show format with “Mamici in Misiune” (Mothers on a Mission) which targets young parents, and more recently “Inelul cu Diamant” (The Diamond Ring). Launched on July 5, The Diamond Ring shows ten girls competing to win a diamond ring offered by businessman Robert Negoita.
However, the reality show king is by far Prima TV with four older reality shows and one recently released. Prima TV is the pioneer of the reality show in Romania, having introduced the format when it started broadcasting “Big Brother,” a show format imported from abroad.
Its summer schedule will bring two new seasons of the reality shows “Curat, Murdar” (Clean, Dirty), “O Vreau pe Mama Inapoi,” (I Want My Mother Back) and Super Nanny, and also “SOS – Salvati-mi casa” (SOS – Save My House).
In addition to these, Prima also inaugurated a brand new format on July 7 entitled “Experienta Americana” (The American Experience), shot in New York and Ocean City. Eight students from all corners of the country will spend their summer holiday working in the United States.
They will be followed in all their activities, starting with their departure from Romania and their arrival on American soil as well as how they adjust to their new workplace and interact with other students. In the end, the student who is chosen by the public as the best will receive a EUR 5,000 prize. The show is broadcast every Monday evening and again on Sunday afternoon. According to Prima TV representatives, it targets 8 SHR (share of the total viewing time) among 15 to 44-year-olds, especially high school pupils and students but also their parents.
The reality show may have grown wings in Romania but it is far from being a local staple. Popescu gives as an example Italy where “Vero Amore”, the local version of the format “Temptation Island” broadcast on Canale 5, reached a 21.2 percent market share after the broadcast of only the first three episodes. By the last episode, the show, which tests couples' fidelity by putting temptation in their way, had reached a market share of 30.3 percent.
The content defines the public but generally reality show viewers are young people. “Nora pentru Mama” which was broadcast during prime time on Saturday was watched mainly by women of between 25 and 60. “There are no significant differences in incomes and education because we are approaching more and more the average spectator through the large audience,” says Popescu.
“Nora pentru Mama” is screened live three times a day. The only recorded edition of the reality show is the Saturday edition which is a retrospective of the previous week and also sees competitors eliminated.
“The Saturday evening edition which runs on the small screen between 19.30 and 23.30 requires recording work of four to five hours,” Popescu says.
Women represented 76 percent of the audience. The largest portion – 44 percent – were adults between 45 and 59 while 27 percent were between 25 and 44. Youngsters between 14 and 15 made up 10 percent of the reality show audience while seniors over 60 represented 14 percent. Children between 4 and 14 also watched the show, making up 5 percent of the audience.
With regard to the level of education of the show's audience, 68 percent had a high-school education, and 15 percent had higher education.
Surprisingly, viewers' level of income was not on the low side. Almost half of the people (45 percent) making up the audience have high incomes and 34 percent have medium incomes.
“Nora pentru Mama” is also the show with the most faithful slice of viewers and largest audience of the two reality shows on Kanal D. “Since ‘Nora pentru Mama' is a show with a history, with a faithful public, it is natural for it to have a higher audience than ‘Magic Taxi' which is still at the beginning and is gaining new viewers day by day. ‘Magic Taxi' is a show with an upward trend and great development potential,” says Popescu. “We want ‘Magic Taxi' to have the same success that ‘Nora pentru Mama' has and even more than that.” Since “Magic Taxi” is a new format that is still in the launching stage, “this launch also presupposes a period of settlement and earning the viewers' loyalty,” says Popescu.
Before the launch of a new reality show, Kanal D carries out a campaign of recruitment and selection of participants. This is done using several criteria, the most important of which is personality. Moreover, only those who suit the format of the show will be selected. In spite of criticism from viewers and the media that characters are paid actors, the Kanal D representative says that “all the participants in the reality shows made by Kanal D are ordinary people, this being a key element for success. No matter how good an actor is, he or she cannot portray the authentic feelings of someone being themselves,” says Popescu.
Now on its third run, “Nora pentru Mama” will be re-launched at the beginning of this fall. It Kanal D's longest-running program, having been on air since the channel started. “Its success was expected. ‘Nora pentru Mama' became one of the channel's flagship shows and a driver of audience. Since a show's success is measured in viewers, which is reflected directly in cash-ins, we can say this is a profitable show,” says Popescu, explaining that incomes vary depending on the season and the time slot in which the reality show is broadcast. “The fact that until now there have been two seasons of this successful reality show and that beginning with fall we will launch season three further confirms that ‘Nora pentru Mama' is a profitable show.”
During the entire period when “Nora pentru Mama” Season 2 was broadcast in the morning slot, the channel took the lion's share of the audience on the commercial target, says Popescu. “Kanal D does not give up a successful format, a reality show that is audience leader in the daytime and increases from one season to the other.”

By Otilia Haraga

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