*VH1 knows where its bread is buttered – and it’s not with white audiences.
As the Aug. 15 issue of The Hollywood Reporter points out, reality franchises “Love & Hip Hop” and “Basketball Wives” have the Viacom network up 20 percent in primetime among adults 18-49 in 2014 — the biggest rise among the top 25 basic cable nets.
But three lackluster launches in July (“LeAnn & Eddie,” “Candidly Nicole” and “Dating Naked”) illustrate that VH1 faces an uphill battle to extend the success of shows starring African-Americans (and with primarily black viewers) to those starring white celebrities.
“The goal is to bring a general market audience back into the fold in addition to servicing our African-American audience,” originals exec vp Susan Levison said earlier in 2014. That includes plans to broaden the network, continuing to focus on pop culture, music and nostalgia.
Of the latest crop, “Dating Naked” has been the only show to find a reasonable audience, averaging 758,000 viewers over the first few episodes. And, in fairness, most reality series don’t rocket out of the gate. “Love & Hip Hop” dipped as low as 680,000 viewers during its first season.
Still, the dismal debut of LeAnn Rimes’ docuseries does not bode particularly well for the similar September entry “I Heart Nick Carter.”
In April, THR also covered the topic in: Race and Reality: The Quiet Success of the Black Unscripted Boom.