Reality dating shows a ‘form of mass therapy’, claims Nine

Instead of highlighting everything that’s wrong with modern society, culture and dating, ‘reality’ television shows focused on relationships are actually a form of mass therapy for millions of Australians who are looking for consolation, solidarity and reassurance about their own dating lives, a new study by Nine – which screens Married at First Sight and Love Island – has claimed.

9Powered, Nine’s strategic client solutions division, said in the age of Tinder, Bumble and Grindr, people are using television dating shows as a way of learning more about relationships and dating, and marketers needed to recognise the significant shift.

Love Island ‘highlights the challenge people face being overlooked because of superficial judgements’: Nine 

9Powered conducted a study of 500 single people who watch the shows, with 54% saying they “learn something about relationships from reality TV and shows about love”, while 48% said they felt reassured that there were other people also looking for love.

37% said they could see themselves and their relationships reflected on the screen.

Nine’s director of strategy, Melissa Mullins, said there was a reason shows like Married at First Sight were pulling in millions of viewers, and marketers needed to recognise their value.

“Marketers advertising in and around these shows need to recognise how technology has changed the dating scene and the commercial opportunity this creates,” she said.

Marketers have the opportunity to both celebrate singledom, and acknowledge the challenges single people face in the search for love, she said.

“The irony is that technology designed to bring us together, is actually tearing us apart and creating mistrust. For example, one in three online or app daters reporting they met someone who was completely different to their online profile, while one in four said they had been ‘ghosted’ -where the person they were chatting to disappears from the app.

“Marketers need to recognise and acknowledge these challenges. In doing so, there is an opportunity to have a real conversation about the online dating and harness the relationships genre and drive a connection between the brand and consumers in better ways.”

Adding to this, Mullins noted nine out of 10 singles in the survey, conducted by The Lab Insight & Strategy, said they were not embarrassed by being single and were proud to use dating apps and sites.

“The reality is that the dating game has radically changed in recent years through technology and the growth of the reality TV dating game,” she said. “This creates a very different landscape for marketers and brands, but also immense opportunities.”

The research also found each show within the genre offers viewers comfort in different areas, with Married at First Sight highlighting “the struggles of making love work after you’ve found yourself in a relationship”, according to the study.

Love Island, on the other hand, apparently the challenge people face being “overlooked because of superficial judgements”. The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, over on Ten, exemplify the difficulty of “trying to cut through in an over-cluttered, highly competitive dating pool”, the study said.

“What the study found is that reality dating shows often provide both entertainment and education, with viewers looking to see their own experiences echoed on screen,” Mullins said of the report.


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