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Reasons for watching reality TV in the U.S. 2017, by age

The main reason given for watching reality TV by U.S. adults was that respondents liked the drama, with 28 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds citing this as the primary appeal of the genre. Other reasons for viewing reality television included it being ‘mindless’ or thought of as ‘good background noise’, and some survey participants agreed that reality TV helps them forget about real issues in their lives.

Attitudes to reality TV in the U.S.

Reality TV may make a lot of noise in the news and on social media, but a survey revealed that reality shows were the least popular in the U.S., with respondents preferring comedy, drama and even shows in the horror genre. It was also found that the majority of adults thought there were too many reality shows on air, which is unsurprising given the genre’s low favorability. However, quality of reality shows was considered to be an issue, with most adults saying that the reality TV genre has gotten worse in recent years.

Why does it matter who likes reality TV and who doesn’t?

On the whole, genre preferences are incredibly subjective, and even those who generally dislike reality TV often find themselves binge-watching shows like ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’, ‘The Voice’ or ‘Big Brother’. However, demand for a genre is often reflected in the types of TV shows and movies available on streaming services. For companies like Netflix, demand and favorability of certain genres is a key factor to take into account when creating original content. Data shows that Netflix largely sidelined the reality genre in its original programming, instead focusing heavily on comedy which has long been one of the most favorable genres among U.S. audiences.

Reasons for watching reality TV in the United States as of March 2017, by age

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Release date

March 2017


United States

Survey time period

March 20, 2017

Number of respondents

5,690 respondents

Age group

18 years and older

Method of interview

Online survey

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