E! Online just announced that E! will be adding a slate of scripted shows to its lineup in 2013. It is also changing its logo and tagline. Does this mean the popularity of reality TV shows is dipping? This could be the case, but not necessarily. Reality shows are still very popular, and E! will still be adding new reality shows.
E! ratings are down from what they used to be with their current set of shows.
Ad Age Media News reports that E! is down 6 percent from its key demographic target for the season. It's possible that the downshift could have something to do with their focus on reality shows. Perhaps reality shows are simply getting old, and people are losing interest.
Even though most other cable networks are also off their targets, many of them also rely on reality TV. If people are tiring of reality TV, then reality shows could be bringing down cable ratings in general.
E! may want scripted shows because they no longer want to be known as the gossip network
In his Media Decoder blog on The New York Times site, Bill Carter suggests that the addition of scripted shows may be an attempt by E! "to make the channel more substantive and less reliant on show-business gossip." Whether reality shows are popular or not, E! does tend to rely on entertainment gossip news shows.
E!'s reality shows also tend to be gossip-heavy. Whether reality shows continue to be popular or not, the gossip slant of the network may be the reason E! wants to change its image. People may be tiring of gossip. Even if they want to continue watching reality shows, they may prefer reality TV that is slanted more toward competition or real-life learning experiences than toward celebrity gossip.
Reality shows are still popular on E! and elsewhere
Reality shows are popular enough to have continued life, even if they are not as popular as they used to be. Part of the reason for this is that they are cheap to produce. The low production costs offset any dip in ratings by quite a bit. In addition, E! will still be adding new reality shows, including "Mrs. Eastwood & Company." They may simply want a balance of shows to help give them a more substantive image.