Reality Resurgence

Just days after network fall schedules were unveiled at Upfront presentations being picketed by striking writers, the board of SAG-AFTRA, the actors’ guild, unanimously agreed to recommend strike authorization to its members ahead of its negotiations with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP). So things could go from bad to worse for networks and platforms relying on scripted dramas and comedies to lure audiences and advertisers. As such, the emphasis on reality across the U.S. networks’ fall schedules is to be expected.

After a reality-heavy summer with the returning America’s Got Talent and American Ninja Warrior and the brand-new Hot Wheels: Ultimate Challenge and LA Fire & Rescue, NBC has a scripted dominant fall schedule with just The Voice and The Wall set for prime time. For midseason, however, there’s a raft of non-scripted in the mix, including, from BBC Studios Natural History Unit in association with Universal Television Alternative Studio, the Tom Hanks-narrated The Americas. An untitled America’s Got Talent extension is coming to NBC following the success of America’s Got Talent: The Champions and America’s Got Talent: All-Stars. The classic Deal or No Deal is also back in a new iteration, Deal or No Deal Island.

FOX renewed an array of its reality offerings, including Farmer Wants a Wife for a second season, along with Hell’s KitchenI Can See Your VoiceLEGO MastersThe Masked SingerName That TuneNext Level Chef and Special Forces: World’s Toughest Test. New for next season are the game shows Snake Oil, hosted and produced by David Spade and executive produced by Will Arnett through his Electric Avenue Productions; and We Are Family, hosted by Jamie Foxx and co-hosted by his daughter, producer and activist Corinne Foxx. The summer reality slate at FOX includes Beat ShazamDon’t Forget the Lyrics!Gordon Ramsay’s Food StarsMasterChef and Crime Scene Kitchen, all back for new seasons, plus the brand-new Stars on Mars, arriving in June.

Announcing its 2023-24 season, ABC said it was “leaning into its incomparable unscripted slate.” Dancing with the Stars is back on the ABC grid after a season on Disney+; the flagship BBC Studios format will be the first series to broadcast live across multiple platforms on Monday nights. The network has again extended its successful The Bachelor franchise, this time with The Golden Bachelor, featuring contestants in their 60s. It also has several returning game shows with The $100,000 PyramidCelebrity Jeopardy!Celebrity Wheel of Fortune and Press Your LuckShark Tank will be back for a 15th season and Judge Steve Harvey for a second. The upcoming ABC season will also include more Bachelor in Paradise and the return of ABC News’ What Would You Do?, a hidden-camera format that ran for 15 seasons.

Like NBC, CBS opted for a scripted-heavy fall schedule while super-sizing two of its reality hits. On Wednesday nights, prime time will be taken up by Survivor and The Amazing Race, both expanding to 90-minute episodes.

The CW Network’s upcoming grid relies heavily on scripted acquisitions, but some original non-scripted shows are in the mix, notably FBoy Island, which previously ran on HBO Max. The reality dating franchise will air Thursday nights in its new home, with encore episodes at 8 p.m. leading into new episodes at 9 p.m.