Enter sports reality TV shows, potential game-changers
Reality TV programs that feature sports are expected to figure prominently in the rapidly growing variety show market in China next year.
“Significant international sports events are scheduled for next year, which would help ignite nationalistic sentiments and stoke passion for sports among the general public,” said Peng Kan, research and development director of Legend Media, a Beijing-based consultancy.
He was referring to events like the 2016 UEFA European soccer championship, which will be held in France in June and July next year, and the 2016 Olympic Games, which will start in August in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Another factor that could favor sports reality shows is the tightening of regulations related to celebrity reality shows, whose kitschy character now marks many TV channels in the country.
In July, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television released a policy guidance that reality TV shows should not tend to be overly vulgar or loud.
The guidance came after reality shows gained in popularity and spawned a culture of hackneyed themes, mad scrambling for top celebrities, especially from the entertainment industry, who commanded astronomical pay packets, and unrestrained replication of South Korean TV program formats.
“Compared w ith entertainment celebrities, sports stars tend to keep a lower profile, but they also enjoy very high popularity among the audiences,” said Peng at a TV program forum in November.
Peng used to advise a number of TV shows and has several years of experience in TV production.
With summer Olympic Games less than a year away, sports stars can keep audiences engrossed and guessing, he said.
More than 10 sports reality shows are expected to be telecast in 2016. If they prove to be popular, more would be produced and aired.
“When it comes to sports reality shows, the choice of a specific sport is critical,” said Fu Yalong, director of research at EntGroup Consulting, a Beijing-based entertainment industry consultancy.
However, Peng has concerns regarding audience ratings as entertainment and sports get blended on TV.
Too much of sporting elements could erode the entertainment quotient of a show, and vice versa. “So far, audience ratings of sports reality shows are not very good,” he said.