Reality TV Franchises Liven Up Discovery+, Paramount+, and Peacock

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One of my late-pandemic TV discoveries has been the TLC reality series 90 Day Fiancé, which follows couples who must marry within 90 days because one of them is a non-American living in the United States on a so-called “fiancé visa.”

I’m midway through the fourth of eight seasons of the will-they-won’t-they, odd-couple dramedy, I’m wholly addicted, and there’s plenty more to watch. There are so many interlocking 90 Day Fiancé spinoffs and remixes — 16 and counting — that a Reddit guide to watching the franchise chronologically in 37 easy steps only includes the half-dozen most popular shows.

Also confusing is where to watch 90 Day Fiancé.

I’m watching the flagship series on Hulu, where several 90 Day Fiancé shows have streamed exclusively since 2018. Other Fiancé franchise shows and five new spinoffs are streaming exclusively on Discovery+, and the shows on Hulu will likely move there when the current deal expires.

A colossal realignment of streamers and content is underway as Disney, WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal, ParamountCBS and Discovery claw back their crown-jewel film and TV titles from Netflix, Prime Video, premium-cable channels, and each other to make exclusive on their own streamers.

As big reality franchises like 90 Day Fiancé, Fixer Upper, Survivor, RuPaul’s Drag Race, Real Housewives and Below Deck settle into new streaming homes and launch new spinoff titles, three services in particular — Discovery+, Paramount+ and Peacock — look to become the dominant streaming outlets in the reality TV genre.

Discovery+: Fiancés, Chefs, Chip and Joanna



Discovery+ launched in January with what the streamer describes as “the largest ever content library for a new streaming service” — 55,000 episodes of unscripted programming plus more that 50 new, exclusive titles — from established nameplates like Food Network, HGTV, Animal Planet and TLC.

Discovery Communications says it will continue programming most originals on its various cable networks and bringing over full seasons at a time to Discovery+, shift some shows to first run on Discovery+, and launch more new titles exclusively on Discovery+. Discovery can do all of the above because unscripted is so much cheaper to produce than the scripted titles on Netflix, Disney+ and HBO Max.

“We’ll let the rest of that group fight out scripted series and scripted movies, but we have a great lane in the U.S. and around the world,” Discovery CEO David Zaslav told CNBC, “and that lane is we have great content that people love: 90 Day Fiancé, Chip and Joanna Gaines, Oprah Winfrey.”

Chip and Joanna Gaines rebooted their HGTV hit Fixer Upper as Fixer Upper: Coming Home, which is currently exclusive to Discovery+ and will be part of their upcoming Magnolia Network cable channel. Discovery+ is running previews of more than a dozen other Magnolia Network shows, and the episodes I’ve seen are documentary-style stories with more emotional heft than typical reality shows.

A few of Discovery’s bigger hits, including Fixer Upper and 90 Day Fiancé, are licensed exclusively to Hulu to stream on demand, and Discovery+ cleverly includes them as “live” channels that play episode after episode. You won’t miss them on demand. Between the live streams, the spinoffs, and the hundreds of other shows, there’s plenty to watch.

Discovery+ is $6.99 a month ad-free and $4.99 a month ad-supported, and Verizon customers are able to get the streamer free for a year depending on your service plan.

Other highlights:

  • Discovery+ Originals. 90 Days Bares All (“the lies, the secrets, and everything we couldn’t show on TV”); Bobby and Giada in Italy (a food and travel series from the Food Network hosts); Gold Rush: Freddy Dodge’s Mine Rescue (exactly what it sounds like); Mysterious Planet (a docuseries about exotic animals hosted by David Schwimmer because he had a monkey on Friends).
  • Food Network. Iron Chef America; The Great Food Truck RaceRestaurant: ImpossibleCake Wars.
  • HGTV: Love It or List ItGood BonesBeachfront Bargain HuntFlip or Flop; House in a Hurry.
  • TLC: Dr. Pimple PopperSister WivesLong Island Medium; Return to AmishMy Big Fat Fabulous Life.
  • Travel Channel: Ghost Adventures; The Osbournes Want to Believe; American Mystery.
  • Animal Planet: Pit Bulls and ParoleesDr. Dee: Alaska VetMy Cat From Hell.
  • History: American PickersIce Road TruckersMountain MenPawn Stars; Alone.

Paramount+: Survivors, Drag Queens and Snookie



The Paramount+ launch on March 4 is closer to a branding change from CBS All Access than an actual launch, but the reality-rich catalog that’s already there will be enough to make Paramount+ one of the top streamers for reality TV the day it launches.

There are 40 seasons of Survivor in the CBS All Access catalog — 540 episodes in all — that will be part of Paramount+, and and Season 41 is expected to shoot in April for a premiere this summer or fall.

The RuPaul’s Drag Race franchise, including 10 seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race and four seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race: All Stars, will also sachet from CBS All Access to Paramount+.

The deep well for reality TV on Paramount+ will be MTV: The Real World (popularized the genre in 1992 and ran for 32 seasons); The Challenge (a hugely popular competition series); The Hills (brought gloss to reality TV); Jersey Shore (Snookie, Jwoww, Pauly D, etc.); and 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom (an ever-expanding franchise about, well, teen moms).

CBS All Access is $9.99 a month ad-free and $5.99 a month ad-supported. Paramount+ will likely announce pricing at a ViacomCBS investor event on February 24 ahead of the streamer’s launch on March 4.

Other highlights:

  • CBS: Big BrotherLove IslandGame On!.
  • VH1: Love & Hip HopBasketball Wives; Black Ink CrewT.I. & Tiny: The Family Hustle.
  • MTV: Siesta Key; Ex on the Beach; Washington Heights; Floribama Shore.
  • BET: It’s a Mann’s WorldCollege HillNellyville.
  • Paramount Network: Ink MasterBar Rescue.

Peacock: Housewives and More Housewives



Hulu made sense as a Bravo streaming hub when Disney, 21st Century Fox, and Bravo owner NBCUniversal were equal partners in Hulu. With Disney buying 21st Century Fox and agreeing to a buyout of NBCUniversal’s share, it’s only a matter of time until the current deals expire and Peacock becomes NBCUniversal’s default streamer.

With 76 season across 10 shows — eight of which are still running — Real Housewives is far and away the most expansive franchise in reality TV. Most of the shows have been running for years on Hulu, recently launched on Peacock, and will likely become exclusive to Peacock at some point.

“We’re seeing that people who are watching The Office on Peacock are watching lots of other comedies,” NBCUniversal CEO Jeff Shell said during parent company’s Comcast’s recent quarterly earnings call. “So it’s really driving Parks and Recreation, and really driving Brooklyn Nine-Nine among others. So, there’s kind of an ecosystem of that.”

The same is true — maybe more true — for reality TV where deep catalogs and a constant supply of new seasons keep subscribers streaming month after month. As the cable bundle continues to lose strength and NBCUniversal sees an opening to strengthen its popular cable franchises, Peacock could become a second window for weekly episodes of Bravo shows as it is now for NBC shows.

Peacock is free and ad-supported. Peacock Premium is $4.99 a month ad-supported, and Peacock Premium Plus is $9.99 a month ad-free. Comcast, Charter and Cox subscribers can get Peacock Premium for free and upgrade to Peacock Premium Plus for $4.99 a month.

Other highlights:

  • NBC. The Voice; Ellen’s Game of Games; Weakest Link.
  • Bravo. Vanderpump Rules; Below Deck; Southern Charm; Top Chef.
  • E!. Keeping Up with the Kardashians.
  • USA: Chrisley Knows Best.

Scott Porch writes about the TV business for Decider. He is a contributing writer for The Daily Beast and a podcast producer for Starburns Audio. You can follow him on Twitter @ScottPorch.

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