Television

Fox looks to score in the reality genre with Virgin's Branson

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MUMBAI: Fox's musical reality show American Idol is going from strength to strength in the US. Looking to expand the reality genre the Murdoch network is said to be planning a show of a different sort using airline billionaire Virgin's Sir Richard Branson.

A report in the Daily Variety stated that Branson would be looking to emulate the success of Donald Trump's show The Apprentice. That NBC programme made reality television look attractive again after a string of shows failed to impress viewers in the US. However Fox will have to contend with the fact that audiences need and want to see what they haven't seen before.

Another report has indicated that in the US a new breed of what's being called hybrid shows blending sitcom and reality are beginning a rise to prominence. With BBC enjoying success with The Office documentary-style sitcoms, which mixes script with improvisation are just beginning to be noticed by television audiences.

According to USA Today the four broadcast networks each spend over $1.5 billion every year on programming. With advertisers spending over $9.3 billion in commitments, the onus is upon ABC. NBC, CBS and Fox to deliver viewers. Yet ratings have declined 25 per cent thanks to increasing fragmentation in the US television landscape. Hybrid shows could just be the innovation that the networks are looking for.

Coming back to Braqnson the show has been tentatively titled Branson's Big Adventure. The tycoon will check out the mettle of hopeful tycoons around the world. Every week one person will be eliminated as is also the case with another show Survivor which airs on CBS. Expectedly Fox has however maintained that the show is not going to be a carbon copy the Trump show. The selected person will follow in Branson's footsteps in a manner of speaking.

NBC meanwhile is continuing to innovate further.. It recently launched Significant Others to test on Bravo, much like the network did with Queer Eye For Straight Guy. According to The Oregonian Times, the show is constructed like HBO's Curb Your Enthusiasm and BBC's The Office from dialogues improvised to fit a written outline. In India the HBO show airs on Zee English.

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