Larry Namer, Co-Founder of Reality Central

This is a partial transcript from Your World with Neil Cavuto, April 28, 2003, that was edited for clarity. Click here for complete access to all of Neil Cavuto's CEO interviews.

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NEIL CAVUTO, HOST: The country, indeed the world, can’t seem to get enough of reality TV. But is there enough interest for a channel devoted to all reality, all the time? Let me ask Larry Namer. He’s the cofounder of E! Entertainment, who is now behind Reality Central. It’s a totally unscripted, 24-hour channel. Sir good to have you.


CAVUTO: Why are you doing this?

NAMER: Well, I think it’s the latest chatter of pop culture has become reality television, and just like when we started E!, which was then called Movie Time, I went to any office and people were talking about, did you see the new Schwarzenegger movie? Now, you go to any office, did you see Joe Millionaire, did you see The Bachelorette. It really has become not just a phenomenon, but a whole new part of the television landscape.

CAVUTO: You know, are you worried, though, that reality is sort of losing its appeal, that the ratings for subsequent shows have tended to decline, and that there is a fear there is a glut as we speak?

NAMER: No, I don’t think that’s really the case. There were certain shows that failed, but then again, there were certain dramas and sitcoms that failed. As a matter of fact, if you just look at the drama on television, 70 percent of the new shows do not make it anyway. With reality TV, the genre has arrived. You are going to see shows that make it, you’re going to see shows that don’t. Cumulatively, the ratings are not down at all, and I think one of the things that most people failed to recognize is that when I was a kid, I grew up with sitcoms being the predominant form of television, and even today, that’s what my television appetite tends to gravitate towards. But if you look at 18-to-34-year-olds today, which is really, you know, one of the prime group that advertisers look to reach, you are talking about people that grew up on Real World, which has been around 12 years.

CAVUTO: Yes, but here is the point, Larry, you also have to woo advertisers, and some of them, you know, winced a little bit at some of those very clear not so sexual innuendoes in some of these prior incarnations, including Millionaire and what have you, and are they going to be leery toward committing themselves toward an entire block of this type of programming?

NAMER: I mean, having been involved if the start of several cable networks, at various levels, I will tell you that the advertiser reaction to this has been more than good. Right now we have several major brands, and few of the big categories, like soft drink, beer, and you know, confectionery not only want to be a part of the advertising, but really are looking at broad sponsorships. There has not been a genre of television that has been able to deliver 18-to-34-year-olds like reality television. It’s an incredibly efficient way to reach them.

CAVUTO: All right, now, of course, you are a legend, you have created a lot of great things in your life. Are you afraid, though, that you are getting sort of side-tracked on a phenomenon here, that the appetite might not be there longer term? Let’s say it stays hot even for another year, which is debatable, that this is going to be another Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? fiasco.

NAMER: Not at all. I really think that the genre of reality television is here to stay. It is been around, the genre has been around for a long time. I mean, it dates back to Candid Camera. You’ve got Star Search. It’s just that now people who grew up on MTV’s Real World, in particular, have reached that 18-to-34-year-old demographic that has taken on the phenomenal proportions. I think you are not going to see quite the rage that you may see now, but it’s going to be a fabric of American television for a long time to come. In the United Kingdom and in Australia, it has been if not the most popular genres, one of the most popular genres for 15 years now.

CAVUTO: So you are not worried that all of a sudden, you know, you are committing the time and muscle to a whole sort of a spawn of programming that has seen its heyday?

NAMER: No, I think the genre stays. You will see changes in the programs. You won’t see the same shows that are on now around in three, four, five years from now, but you’re going to see different reality-based shows. Eighteen-to-34-year-olds have flocked to this form of programming like they have never flocked to any form of television. As long as there’s advertising money that’s looking to reach 18-to-34-year-olds, you’re going to see reality TV here.

CAVUTO: Unless it’s business news on Fox, but I could just be imagining things. Larry Namer, thank you very much. Good seeing you.

NAMER: Thank you, Neil.

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