'Real World' Revival From MTV Studios Lands at Facebook Watch

Facebook execs in Cannes for MIPCOM talked about rebooting the long-running reality series on a streaming platform, with social media tools to connect audiences.
MTV
"The Real World: Portland" cast

The Real World is officially coming back — on Facebook Watch.

Facebook execs on Wednesday unveiled plans at MIPCOM to partner with MTV Studios and producer Bunim-Murray Productions to revive the long-running reality series, with three new incarnations (in the U.S., Mexico and Thailand).

The Real World reboot will again follow the lives of a group of young people who agree to live in a house together in a new city, via weekly half-hour episodes on Facebook Watch. And MTV and Facebook will feature homes in the U.S., Mexico and Thailand filled with seven young people each, and with cameras on hand to capture their conversations and interactions. MTV’s The Real World on Facebook Watch will start with three seasons with local production to debut in spring 2019.

"While these shows will be true to The Real World’s promise of what happens when 'when seven strangers ... stop being polite, and start getting real,' they’ll also add a new layer of audience interaction," said Matthew Henick, head of content planning and strategy at Facebook, during a keynote address in Cannes on Wednesday morning.

For example, Facebook Watch, the video destination on Facebook, will enable viewers to vote on housemates, connect directly with the cast and use tools like Facebook Live, Premieres and Watch Party to have two-way conversations.

"We will be working closely with MTV Studios, as well as co-producers of the show Bunim/Murray to bring social elements and new ways of releasing this content in exciting ways, drawing on our experiences with shows like SKAM," Henick added.

The pact with Facebook on The Real World continues MTV Studios' recent strategy of giving new life to some of its better-known properties. Last year, MTV revived My Super Sweet 16, and this year gave Jersey Shore another outing. MTV Studios is also readying revivals of Daria, Aeon Flux and Made, among other projects, as part of a larger company-wide mandate to additionally monetize library content as Viacom looks to bolster its bottom line under CEO Bob Bakish.

MTV Studios hopes to produce a slate for outlets outside of Viacom with a focus on beloved series, franchises and spinoffs given that it has more than 200 titles available to mine for third-party outlets. The Real World is MTV Studios' first sale under its library push. 

The Real World revival, meanwhile, will not live on the main network as MTV had courted streaming platforms before settling on Facebook. "By partnering with Facebook Watch and BMP, we have the opportunity to impact culture and create a new genre of television all over again, while engaging the next generation of content consumers around the world," said MTV president Chris McCarthy during his MIPCOM keynote.

He added that MTV and others are facing an increasing challenge to break through the media clutter. "The landscape we all operate in has become incredibly competitive, crowded, and there's more and more content," McCarthy said.

He added that Facebook Watch offered a new platform on which to reboot a well-known brand. "As storytellers, we have a whole new world, we have to spark a cultural moment," much as The Real World did when it launched in 1992, McCarthy explained.

He argued MTV relaunching the show on Facebook Watch means the reality TV series will go beyond weekly episodes to engaging audiences "in ongoing discussion and unpacking cultures in each region." He also insisted MTV hoped to expand to more world markets beyond Mexico, Thailand and the U.S. down the road with its Real World franchise revival.

The Real World deal also provides Facebook Watch a known format as the social media platform looks to break through in a crowded landscape where revivals (like Queer Eye for the Straight Guy) continue to be in high demand while also bolstering MTV Studios parent Viacom's bottom line.

The Real World, first broadcast in 1992 and credited by many for giving birth to the reality genre, finished its 32nd season in January 2017 with Real World Seattle: Bad Blood. Henick and Paresh Rajwat, head of video products at Facebook, also announced in Cannes that Facebook Watch has plans for its interactive game-show format, Confetti International, to be produced via local versions in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the Asia Pacific and Latin America by the end of this year.

And Facebook Watch will partner with distributor The Dodo to launch The World's Most Amazing Dog as a global interactive competition series that celebrates amazing dogs and their owners from around the globe.