It's been just a few months since Netflix admitted it was going to get into a brand new type of original programming: reality television. The news was a bit of a surprise at the time, but a recent study reveals why reality television may be the next big step for streaming services like Netflix and Hulu, after all. Per the study, reality TV viewing was actually up 28.3% in terms of viewership on Netflix this year. It's no wonder the streaming service has decided to go in a new direction.
The news about the reality TV viewership increase helps to explain one reason why Netflix ultimately decided to get into creating its own reality programming in 2017. A year ago, Netflix was openly stating it wasn't interested in reality programming because of its "disposable nature", but this year will actually mark a big turnaround for Netflix, which was adamantly stating in the past that it neither wanted to get into sports nor reality programming. The sports thing is still not happening at Netflix, but the subscription streaming service is gunning hard to create new unscripted originals like Ultimate Beastmaster, which is sort of a streaming take on American Ninja Warrior. You can check out the first trailer for that unscripted program already.
It's not just Netflix that is popular for reality television. According to the study conducted by 7Park Data (via Variety), viewership of reality shows on Hulu were also up 10.3% in the last year. That's not quite as high as the numbers Netflix increased by in terms of reality viewership this year, but there are still a lot of reality programs that can be binged on Hulu, including The Amazing Race. Since Hulu is also producing its own original shows at this point, we wouldn't be really surprised if that service eventually got into reality programming too.
So far, Netflix is early into the reality game, well, at least compared to a lot of the other big subscription streaming services. (It should be noted that CBS All Access did run an original season of Big Brother.) At least 20 unscripted originals are expected to be produced in 2017, and presuming those do well, there will likely be more to come. Netflix Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos already said that reality shows are one of the types of content that sell well internationally, and Netflix has been working to expand into more international programming over the past year. He also called it "an interesting business," whatever that means.