NBC Ups The Ante On Reality

NEW YORK — Reality TV is finally making its mark at NBC.

The General Electric Co.television network, a late participant in the recent wave of reality-based programming to hit the broadcast networks, said Thursday that it had ordered 13 additional episodes each of two summer programs: “Fear Factor” and “SPY TV.”

“SPY TV” is a darker take on the old “Candid Camera” series, placing people in so-called “extreme” situations and then recording their decidedly unedited reactions. “Fear Factor” makes contestants face their greatest phobias — from free-falling from a 12-story building to escaping from a car submerged underwater — all in the name of capturing a cash prize worth up to $50,000.
Initially, NBC was slow to adopt the new reality TV trend, and watched as Viacom Inc.’s CBS mounted the first serious challenge to the Peacock Network’s once-indomitable Thursday night schedule.

CBS found that “Survivor,” “CSI” and a plate of other programs were able to take on “Friends,” “ER” and the shows that come on between them. To counter the Tiffany Network move, NBC offered up “supersized” episodes of “Friends” and a live, 15-minute Thursday evening version of “Saturday Night Live.”

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