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How to Pitch Your Reality Show Idea

A TV producer gives tips on getting your reality show concept on air

By Joanne Azern - November 7, 2013
Reality television is a tough business. You may have a great idea, but only a handful of shows get picked up by networks each year. So how do you have your concept become one of the chosen few? The key is to get in front of the big decision makers and, ultimately, to pitch a show that appeals to what they are looking for. According to Brian Flanagan, managing partner of Magilla Entertainment and executive producer of TLC's Long Island Medium, your idea has to stand out from the crowd. "There are so many networks making and competing in the non-scripted space [that] the only way to cut through all the noise is to be loudest," he said.

Have a fresh idea
Your reality show idea has to catch the attention of frequently pitched network executives, so make sure your show delivers something fresh and exciting. Morgan J. Freeman, co-founder of 11th Street Productions and co-executive producer of hit MTV shows 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom explained that every network wants a different take. Originality should take the form of "a loud and clear hook that pops and is super relatable," he said.

Bill Hunt, executive producer of Austin Street Productions, whose expertise includes lifestyle programming and documentaries, said it's also important to recognize the potential of current themes on TV. "Networks love shows that are the same as other successful shows [yet] different in a unique way," he said. "Look at all the tattoo shows or the pawn-broking shows -- when something is successful, you want to find a different hook into a hot topic. Right now humor seems to be in demand, la Duck Dynasty."


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