There are styles that come and go in TV. We had Westerns, Variety TV, Sitcoms, etc and most lasted awhle.
Reality TV will die off eventually but as others have noted it’s darn cheap and something has to be number one so, who cares.
For example, if I put on “Joe Sitcom” and it is number one, what if I cancel it? So what? Something else will just be number one. And if the replacement series costs only 10% of the price that is a heck of a lot of extra profit.
Prices for ad revenue aren’t based on raw viewers. They are combined with rank and demographics.
Finally if you’re not a Nielsen family you have no say in the matter at all.
Whether I watch TV or not matters not on iota, 'cause I am not a Nielsen family. If no one knows what I AM watching, they don’t know if I’ve STOPPED watching it.
I’ve gone into detail on other posts how complex Nielsen really is but the long and short is, TV doesn’t reflect people’s tastes, it reflect the ability to sell ads.
It’s changed so much due to de-regulation. In the old days, going back to radio you HAD to do so much programing in different modes, to keep your broadcast license.
Commercials were also an “embarassment” of sorts to radio and early TV. This meant your station was so unprofitable you had to either run public announcments or take on low level advertisers.
Orsen Wells, in his biography said that if it wasn’t for the Presidents of CBS and NBC having over inflated egos that he would’ve never got a chance. The networks had extra time and each president wanted to prove he could put on better high brow programs. So Wells was hired to make these shows, as he put it, “at quite a loss.”
So they didn’t sell at all but they had value because these prestigue programs elevated the image. Back then radio ratings were actual polls. Remember Nielsen isn’t an accurte poll at all, and in their defense Nielsen Ratings say they don’t ever claim to be scientific. Nielsen states it’s ratings don’t measure what the general population watches but rather what a given population who’s likely to buy a product watches.
So why reality TV? It’s cheap, it reflects the tastes of those likely to buy things they see on TV and gives people the illusion that anyone can be a star if they are lucky enough