Netflix Will Produce More Unscripted Content, but Why Not More Concert Films?

Published on August 26, 2020

Netflix has been getting more and more involved in the reality television game with mixed results. Without question, they’ve produced some of the worst reality television today in the form of Too Hot to Handle, but on the other hand, Love is Blind and Love on Spectrum aren’t without their binge-worthy charms. Following the success of these shows, the streaming giant is planning on producing more reality content, as well as shows involving contestants. 

Family Entertainment

Too Hot to Handle is not a family-friendly show. It’s unsavory garbage to begin with, but Netflix has yet to produce a non scripted hit that plays to everybody in a family. Now, however, the company wants unscripted more family-friendly programs in their library. Imagine The Biggest Loser or Big Brother on Netflix, in a nutshell. One of the directors of unscripted originals at Netflix, Sean Hancock, says more family-friendly shows are now a focus at the company: 

“One thing is we could probably do more of is that four quadrant family entertainment, which we probably haven’t done enough of yet. That’s one area that we want to crack because that’s where you get the really big, culturally zeitgeist hits. The kind of show that you could explain to a caveman and they’d get it. When you’re gliding through Netflix, you’ve probably got a couple of seconds to catch someone’s attention.”

A Game Show

At the beginning, Netflix’s library was mostly stacked with acclaimed original content. They didn’t have much reality TV, but reality TV is popular comfort food the streaming giant can’t dismiss. If Netflix wants to make some of the biggest movies and original programming today, why not aim to make the biggest unscripted programming as well? Where’s Netflix’s American Idol or Survivor? According to Netflix’s other director of Unscripted Originals and Acquisitions, Nat Grouille, game shows and more are coming:

“We’ve done docu-series, crime, game, all sorts of different things, we’ve reached the point where we feel very comfortable in this reality and unscripted world. We’re poised to move forward in quite an exciting way into these white spaces with shows that we don’t have on the service. Do we have a big game show? Not yet. Do we have a talent singing show? Not yet. There’s a lot of momentum. We’ve learned a lot of lessons, we’ve had a lot of hits and a lot of misses and got to a point where we are starting to understand the audience a little better.”

Netflix has tried their hand at game shows to little success. There was Awake: The Million Dollar Game, Flinch, and Rhythm + Flow. None of these titles became popular Netflix titles that took pop culture by storm. There’s a singing competition the company is working on at the moment, but they’ve yet to produce their American Idol

Long-Running Shows

Recently, Netflix announced they’re producing their most expensive movie to date with The Gray Man, which will star Ryan Gosling. The company sees it as their potential Bond franchise. Based on recent moves such as The Gray Man, Netflix is looking for content that could last a long time. Reality shows, for example, can live on forever if successful enough and seemingly never die. According to Grouille, Netflix wants non scripted content that could last over 20 to 25 years: 

“It’s such a lot of hard work to get a format up and running that we’d love a show to run for 20, 25 years. Thankfully, we’re in a nice position where we don’t have limited shelf space so it’s not as if you can’t do Love Is Blind for ever and then also do two or three other big dating formats. The intention is definitely to build for the future and to broaden out from the franchises, what can you spin-off, what can you create, what sort of ecosystem can you make?”

How to Release Reality TV on Netflix 

The heads of non-scripted content are considering how to best present these reality shows. Netflix subscribers expect the opportunity to binge. Binge, binge, binge. Lord knows how much damage the streaming company has done to young minds and attention spans, but hey, sometimes it’s nice to kickback and watch a show for a couple of hours with a nice glass of wine or whatever your flavor is. In the future, though, the streaming giant may break up reality shows into a couple episodes at a time. 

Odd strategy, considering reality shows are such empty calories people prefer to devour than to enjoy in small doses as if Too Hot to Handle is some nice scotch to savor. Reality TV more often than not is garbage. When we eat garbage, we really want to eat garbage. Yes, there are popular reality shows that come out on a week-to-week basis, but on Netflix, it’s likely reality shows would lose a few viewers if all episodes are dropped at once. All the time Netflix drops series that come and go in pop culture. They gotta strike while the iron is hot, especially with their worst and most forgettable content. 

What About More Concert Films?

Now this area is where Netflix is seriously lacking. Netflix has released a few concert movies and music docs, like Homecoming, a Lady Gaga doc, and a Justin Timberlake concert film, but there’s so much potential in concert films Netflix has yet to address. Imagine during this pandemic if Netflix released concerts exclusively from the likes of, let’s say, Post Malone, The Weekend, Arianna Grande, and all of the heavy hitters in music today. What if Netflix did their own epic version of NPR’s Tiny Desk? 

Music fans are missing concerts terribly right now. Summer is the time of major tours and outdoor shows and festivals. Netflix could have provided what audiences wanted this year with more concert films, yet strangely, they’ve released so few this year and in previous years. It’s crazy that the biggest streaming giant isn’t teaming up with the biggest musical artists, and yet collaborate with the biggest comedians constantly instead. There are too many one-hour comedy specials to count on Netflix, but too few concert films to watch. Hopefully, Netflix wakes up and gets in on that game one day soon, especially if they’re beefing up their non-scripted programming.

Jack Giroux is a Staff Writer at Grit Daily. Based in Los Angeles, he is an entertainment journalist who's previously written for Thrillist, Slash Film, Film School Rejects, and The Film Stage.

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