Viewers tend to react in one of three ways when it comes to the ethnic and cultural stereotyping that has crept into reality TV – the most notable example being the portrayal of Italian-Americans on MTV’s “Jersey Shore”. Either they’re willing to be entertained by the over-the-top, outlandish behavior that reinforces such stereotypes; they are deeply offended by them; or, complete indifference.
If you happen to fall within the first group, then you’re essentially watching “reality” TV that takes a lot of liberties with reality. Are these on-air participants really as vulgar and vain as they come across in restaurants, family gatherings and pool parties? Or, are they just behaving that way under subtle (or not so subtle) direction? Or, maybe a little of both, which characterizes Bravo’s “Shahs of Sunset,” a west coast version of “Jersey Shore” with an entirely different ethnic slant. In the 1970s, the overthrow of Mohammad Reza Pahlavi (the Shah of Iran) led to the diaspora of thousands of Iranians, many of whom ended up in Southern California, with a very select few (second generation) ending up on this (crazy) show.
You’ve got it hand it to the creators of “Shahs of Sunset.” They’ve thrown together a cast of characters that know how to stir things up, starting with Reza Farahan, the flamboyantly gay, successful real estate agent who is not above bragging about himself… constantly. And then there’s, Golnesa Gharachedaghi (“GG”) – a bit of a “daddy’s girl” with a rich daddy. I don’t think she really works for a living unless you call dining out “work”, but she did manage to launch a hair extension brand. She’s a “little” materialistic and superficial, but, heck, that would describe practically everyone on the show which is now entering its fifth season riding a wave of consistent ratings and shares over the past four:
We’ve previewed in this space several reality-series of the outdoor, “rugged men at work” variety, and they are invariably rural skewing in terms of their heaviest viewers. “Shaws of Sunset” is altogether another sort of reality-series. It is not only set in a metropolitan area (Los Angeles/Hollywood), but it also emphasizes a high end lifestyle replete with fine restaurants, fine cigars and fancy cars. Not the sort of thing we normally associate with rural living in the United States.
We checked our hunch against PersonicX data, which is a household-level consumer segmentation analysis that divides practically every home in America into one of seventy unique clusters across an array of demographic, behavior-graphic and lifestyle characteristics. By matching the unique characteristics of PersonicX clusters to their set-top-box panel homes, Rentrak has created PersonicX HH ratings for all the programs they measure.
Out of 70 PersonicX Clusters, we found a dozen with a minimum 120 cluster rating index (or higher) for “Shahs of Sunset.” Notice the top three clusters, which separate themselves from the rest of the pack with at least a 160 cluster Index rating (or higher.) In terms of “Urbancity”, they are the three most urban clusters out of the 70 created by PersonicX. And “Metro Parents” (#6); “Established Elite” (#12) and “Mobile Mixers” (#15) also skew highly urban:
Local Cable Advertising Demand
Over the past two seasons (3 & 4), “Shahs of Sunset” has attracted well over 100 local cable advertisers, who have ordered over 900 30-second spots across 40 Viamedia local markets (60% of our nationwide footprint.) That comes to an average of 8 spots per advertiser.
(Source: B.I.G.SM database — Copyright © 2016 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved
And when we confine our analysis to the Viamedia markets that exhibited advertising in the show over the past two years, we find a very strong growth rate of 62% driven by an increase in the number of 30-second units.
Source: Viamedia internal analysis of B.I.G.SM database (Sports & High Profile Tracker module) across the 20 markets that exhibited local cable advertising on “Shahs of Sunset” for the past two season 2013/14 & 2015. Copyright © 2016 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
In terms of product categories, Tune-in and Automotive capture over one-half of all local cable advertising on the “Shahs of Sunset.” The Tune-in share of 34% dwarfs the level we typically see company-wide, which is less than 5%. As for Automotive, the 23% share is actually lower than the +30% share we see company-wide. And while Entertainment & Travel and the Furniture categories combined capture a 17% share for the show, this level is almost double the average share (for these two categories) across all Viamedia clients:
On to Season Five
There’s a clever amalgamation of two place names that describes the Iranian-Americans living in southern California — “Tehrangeles” – which combines the capital of their country of origin (Tehran) with their adopted city of Los Angeles and the surrounding area. I don’t believe the term is pejorative, but I have a strong suspicion many Tehrangeles would cringe if they caught a few episodes of “Shahs of Sunset” which plays to several ethnic stereotypes for dramatic and comedic effect. But as a source of (raw) entertainment for “entertainment’s sake,” the show has a fairly impressive 4-year ratings history, and last season “Shahs of Sunset” captured viewing levels nearly one-third higher than Bravo’s overall 9pm time slot (in which the show airs.) And it’s a pretty good bet these viewers will be on hand once again when Season Five gets underway April 10th to watch their “favorite” Tehrangeles living large (and loud) in L.A.
For more information on Viamedia, visit www.viamediatv.com.
– Written by Jonathan Sims, VP Media Research, Viamedia