Reality shows get new life in rerun marathons

Thu Jun 19, 2008 1:58am EDT
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By James Hibberd

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) - If reality TV is junk food, then the full-season daytime reality marathon has become the equivalent to a daylong, couch-bound Del Taco binge.

Networks are increasingly airing entire seasons of reality programming in large, seemingly indigestible chunks. Morning-to-dusk stretches of "The Bachelor" on VH1, "Top Chef" on Bravo, "Rock of Love" on MTV.

The marathons have solved what was once considered one of the major drawbacks of the reality genre. Unscripted shows, went the mantra, have no repeat value. What's the point of watching "America's Next Top Model" after you already know who wins?

Turns out, encores do work, as long as fans don't have to wait for the next episode.

"You can start watching TV at 8 in the morning and follow Season 2 for 'Project Runway' all the way," says Andy Cohen, Bravo's senior vp programming and production. "It's exciting to watch the progression of creativity and excellence in a competition setting and makes for an amazing arc to follow in one afternoon."

During a marathon, a producer often gives permission for the network to cut off a show's credits, so a story rolls from one episode to the next.

"Marathoning is a great way to hook people," said Mark Cronin, executive producer of VH1's "I Love New York," "Flavor of Love" and others. "I've had people say to me, 'I got into your show in a marathon.' They start watching and they've seen three episodes before they know what happened."

Reality marathons typically air during daytime rather than primetime, on weekdays or weekends. The ratings are often on par with regular programming, which is nonetheless a victory of sorts given that reality shows were once considered next to useless after a season concluded.   Continued...

<p>A model exits the runway during the Project Runway Spring 2007 fashion show in New York September 15, 2006. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid</p>