VH1 Dating Show’s ‘Naked’ Ambition

SCANTILY-CLAD SERIES DRAWS VIEWERS, IMITATORS
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VH1 is not shy about flaunting its hit reality series Dating Naked on TV screens.

The series, in which participants strip down to their birthday suits before going on their first date, has been a ratings hit, averaging 826,000 total viewers. That’s a notch above VH1’s 738,000 July primetime average.

Based on its success, the series will extend past its 10-episode freshman series run and include a Sept. 18 special featuring the wedding of two participants who met on the series, Jill Holmes, senior vice president of West Coast production and programming, said.

Dating Naked st retches VH1’s streak of hit summer series, which includes Love and Hip Hop: Atlanta and scripted series Hit the Floor, which recently was renewed for a third season.

Holmes said Dating Naked “provided us an opportunity to explore love through a social experiment where people had nothing to hide behind. We’re really pleased with the results.”

Despite the early ratings success, the network has yet to renew the series for a second season, although Holmes said VH1 is in discussions about the future of the show.

“At the end of the day, we thought we had a solid, heartfelt show, and the idea of it sounds more salacious than the actual show is,” she said. “When you watch it, it’s really about people getting to know each other in a way that is not easily done on other dating shows.”

Dating Naked is one of three summer cable series featuring everyday people in the buff , albeit with strategically placed objects and pixilated blurs covering private parts. Discovery Channel’s survival competition series Naked and Afraid, in which a man and a woman fight to survive in a treacherous environment without everyday luxuries like clothing, is averaging more than 2 million viewers since the June launch of its third season.

TLC’s entry into the genre, Buying Naked, which follows realtor Jackie Youngblood as she sells houses to naked homebuyers within Florida’s nudist communities, averaged nearly 800,000 viewers for first-run episodes, according to Nielsen.

TV historian Tim Brooks casts the “naked” genre of programming as a mini-trend similar to others, like cupcake competitions or shows about bounty hunters. Networks are always looking to replicate the success of a particular show, Brooks said, so he wouldn’t be surprised to see similar entries join cable-network lineups in the near future.

“The naked shows are cute and a novelty, but at base it’s a dating show or real-estate show, and the novelty wears off very quickly,” Brooks said. “But the shows aren’t doing badly in the ratings, and that wouldn’t be the case if people were just tuning in to see how cleverly the show can digitize [private parts]. More likely than not, we’ll see more of the shows on other networks.”

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