Why is Britain so dominant in reality TV?
The answer, you might be surprised to learn, is government innovation policy. Again, The Economist:
Like financial services, television production took off in London as a result of government action. In the early 1990s broadcasters were told to commission at least one-quarter of their programmes from independent producers. In 2004 trade regulations ensured that most rights to television shows are retained by those who make them, not those who broadcast them. Production companies began aggressively hawking their wares overseas.A key aspect of innovation success has actually been the ability to shield innovators from the immediacy of the market, thus creating a space for novelty, and also for failure:
Many domestic television executives do not prize commercial success. The BBC is funded almost entirely by a licence fee on television-owning households. Channel 4 is funded by advertising but is publicly owned. At such outfits, success is measured largely in terms of creativity and innovation—putting on the show that everyone talks about. In practice, that means they favour short series. British television churns out a lot of ideas.Reality TV offers some interesting lessons for success in innovation and the conditions that help to make that success possible, both absolutely and in a competitive market context.