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Amazon’s latest move suggests cord cutters don’t go for reality TV

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Might cord cutters represent those with more discerning taste when it comes to programming? If Amazon’s latest move is any indication, this may very well be the case. The company has dropped several reality TV programs from its latest licensing deal with Viacom for its Instant Video platform, including Mob Wives and Teen Mom, reports Bloomberg.

It makes sense – cord cutters often want to get away from not only the high prices of traditional linear TV packages, but also having to pay for, and scroll through, tons of content in which they have no interest in viewing. And a lot of that content consists of what is often considered to be low-brow reality shows that are often labeled “guilty pleasures,” like watching middle-aged wealthy women pull each other’s hair and fight like dogs, or unfit 16-year-olds popping out babies that their parents will inevitably take care of. It doesn’t exactly sound like “Prime” content.

Related: Amazon Prime Instant Video finally comes to Android tablets

The move comes, according to Bloomberg, at a time when reality TV for online audiences is causing “viewer fatigue.” The deal also serves as an indication about the differences in online platforms and traditional TV when it comes to content acquisition.

Cable networks have a lot of airtime to fill, and need content to sell advertising. That’s why they’re hesitant to cut reality shows, which offer low-production cost, and relatively high returns when it comes to revenue. Streaming services like Amazon Instant Video and Netflix, on the other hand, have more freedom than cable networks as their revenue is based on subscriptions, not ad sales. That allows them to option highly-rated original series, popular specialty network television shows, library title sitcoms, movies, and kids’ programming, without consideration about programming with low-production cost that brings in big ad dollars.

Amazon will reportedly be taking the money it saves from opting out of these shows to invest in more original programming, and acquiring content from other suppliers that my better suit its subscribers.

This isn’t the first such move by Amazon. Earlier this year, the company also decided not to renew a deal with A+E to offer shows like Pawn Stars and Storage Wars. It seems such reality TV shows that typically skew towards either primarily male audiences or female audiences don’t quite fit in with the streaming TV mold.

This is good news for those who seek a reprieve from the talking heads of reality TV — i.e. viewers that often fall under the cord-cutter banner. While many refer to today as the golden age of television, with stellar programming that has taken big Hollywood stars onto the small screen, it’s also an era of television that falls at the other end of the spectrum, full of competition and reality shows which many viewers flee from when unconstrained by the bounds of cable bundles.

That said, for those who love to dive into a guilty reality pleasure once and awhile it seems that — when it comes to Amazon, anyway — a line is being drawn that conveys a distinct message: Love reality TV? Stick with cable.

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Christine Persaud
Christine has decades of experience in trade and consumer journalism. While she started her career writing exclusively about…
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