How and where to Pitch an Idea for a Reality TV Show

If there’s one thing we enjoy on TV, it’s watching people struggling to do something that is alien to them. Why we find this so entertaining no one really knows for sure. But this is what Reality TV Shows are all about.

Without a doubt this type of television program has been in the highest demand in recent years. So if you’ve got an original idea for a new show, not only will the TV producers want to know about it, but they’ll be willing to pay big money for it.

In their simplest terms, reality TV shows usually consist of ordinary people (or celebrities) interacting with each other, and their environment, in a variety of situations that differ greatly from their normal way of living or working.

And although they are all essentially the same, reality TV shows fall into 6 different categories.

The Different Types of Reality Shows Are:

This is one of the first kinds of reality TV show to be broadcast. Some of the different types of dating shows we’ve seen on television include” Blind Date,” “Temptation Island” and “The Bachelor.”

Talent Shows
These shows have people competing against each other. The prize in these shows is usually a resulting shot at stardom for the winner. Some of the talent shows we’ve seen recently are “Pop Idol,” “Australia's Got Talent” and “The X Factor.”

This type of show has people from different backgrounds and lifestyles either living closely together or swapping lives. Examples of these shows are “Wife Swap,” “Holiday Showdown” and “Trading Places.”

Makeover Shows
Makeover shows are typically where a person’s life is transformed by changing their home, lifestyle, looks or career. Some of the best known makeover shows are “Changing Rooms,” “Celebrity Fit Club,” “Extreme Makeover” and “The Biggest Loser.”

In these shows there is always a race or a competition of some kind and those competing are usually eliminated one-by-one and often by viewers votes. Examples of these shows are “Big Brother,” “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here,” “Survivor” and “The Apprentice.”

These are reality TV shows that don’t fit into any of the other categories. In these types of shows it’s usually a ‘fly on the wall’ type of show such as “Animal Hospital” or “The Osbournes” or “Emergency Room” or “The First 48”.

Reality TV shows have experienced a phenomenal worldwide success. They attract huge audiences and some generate a massive amount of income through viewers voting calls.

Due to the high volume of reality shows already broadcast, production companies are willing to pay large sums of money for fresh ideas that can bring in big ratings.

So if you want to have a go at devising a new reality TV show, there’s never been a better time.

Here Are 7 Tips to Help You Find Ideas:

1. Watch a whole range of all the different types of reality TV shows. Make notes about what you do and don’t like and where you think the show is weak or strong.

2. Make your idea a totally new concept. If your idea is based on an already existing show with only a slight twist, then your idea is unlikely to be successful – unless it’s a really great twist and you offer your idea to the same company that produced the original show.

3. If you do want to pitch an idea based on an existing show, try and incorporate more than one really clever twist.

4. Come up with a really good title that also explains what the show is about. Some good self-explanatory titles that have already been used are “I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here” and “Wife Swap.” You could also use a play on words such as “Around the World in 80 Dates.” But the title still has to be specific to what the show is about.

5. Viewer participation can be crucial to an idea being accepted. Having viewers involved can make the show more exciting. It also helps to draw the viewers back week after week which also makes it a great way for the broadcaster to generate revenue.

Your idea can even be based on a book, a movie or a game. Some reality TV shows have been developed this way, such as “Cannonball Run” and “Meet the Parents.”

And don’t worry about copyright problems. If a company likes your idea they will obtain all the necessary rights themselves.

How and Where to Pitch Your Idea

When you write up your proposal be as specific as possible. State not only the show’s format and concept, but also explain exactly what the viewers will see and the type of reaction you are anticipating.

You can pitch your proposal directly to the production companies that make reality TV shows or you can pitch it through websites that are designed for reality TV show pitches.

One of these websites is:

TV Writers Vault.
On this website you can pay to pitch your idea for 30 days plus additional money for any additional pitches during the 30-day period. This website is regularly visited by major production companies who are looking for the next great reality TV show idea.

The owner, Scott Manville, told me the following:

"We have more than 350 Reality TV executives and producers using our service. The Producers come to us to scout, as opposed to services that go out and pitch blindly. We are the first and ONLY online industry pitch site to have pitches discovered, produced, and aired on major networks globally (Discovery, Lifetime TV, SyFy, A&E, UKTV, Velocity, and others)."

He also provides all of the professional insight to readers free, while others charge.

Your proposal needs to be set out in the industry standard format just as a proposal for ANY type of show should be and needs to include the following:

Title----- Take your time at coming up with an attention-getting title.

Genre----- As well as ‘Reality’ state which type, i.e. dating, makeover, etc.

Logline-----Use 2 or 3 irresistible sentences that immediately “sell” your idea.

Synopsis Up to 3 pages that explain your idea succinctly yet with enough description that captures and explains your show’s format, concept, mood and its appeal to the contestants/participants as well as the viewers. Also explain exactly what the viewers will be seeing when they watch the show.

If you decide that you want to take your idea straight to the television production companies, you can find their contact details online.

Initially contact these companies by phone or email BEFORE sending them your idea.

But whichever way you pitch your idea, use all your writing skills to really SELL your idea and, before you know it, you could be sitting back, earning royalties every time your show is broadcast around the world.


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