chapter  4
24 Pages

Reality TV experiences

Reality TV drives an experience economy. As an entertainment genre, it ensures that a live reality event, programme or format not only has economic value but emotional value as an interactive experience embedded in people’s lives (Pine and Gilmore 2011). Audiences for reality TV are able to experience media in such a way that they participate in the process itself as consumers, performers, participants and producers. In many ways, audience experiences of reality TV, and other media in general, parallel those cultural experiences offered to fans for live sporting events. Audiences are positioned as supporters rather than consumers, as part of and not extra to an event (Boyle and Haynes 2009). Philip Napoli claims in Audience Evolution (2010) that media

managers must understand audience practices if they are to survive the rapid changes occurring in the marketplace. Media professionals are entering into a complex relationship with their consumers-audiences-producers. Reality formats such as The Voice or Dancing on Ice highlight how audiences can be both consumers and participants in an immersive media environment, able to support and vote for

contestants during live broadcasts, perform during auditions and live events, produce and create mobile and online media content, and consume merchandizing, music and other media, such as spinoff shows, magazines and newspapers. The liveness of competitive reality formats is a significant feature of a new reality television economy. Little used in early forms of reality television in the 1990s, which relied on immediacy as a proxy for liveness, the live event status of this specific kind of reality television is worthy of close analysis (see Corner 2011). Audience’s evolving experience of live reality television is richly suggestive for thinking about how media producers, professional reality TV contestants, celebrities and audiences co-create live cross-media content.