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Flipping the script on unscripted programming: How to replicate the success of RuPaul’s Drag Race

Flipping the script on unscripted programming: How to replicate the success of RuPaul’s Drag Race

In terms of who’s on top in unscripted TV, RuPaul’s Drag Race reigns queen. Now in its 15th season, RuPaul stands out with its Intentionality (engagement) score of 113 – putting it in the top 3% of all unscripted shows in the entire landscape. Magid’s EmotionalDNA® team analyzed the show’s long-running success and how other reality shows can replicate it.

Serving glam realness
RuPaul’s unique combination of attributes identifies significant white space in unscripted programming. As you can see in the Fun and Glamorous quadrant below, it’s an outlier compared to its competition – ranking high in both attributes.

Sashay away, Kim K
At the same time, eDNA Emotional Attribute data found that Glamorous TV shows in the competitive set like Keeping Up with the Kardashians and The Real Housewives of Atlanta tend to be Mean. They’re not Uplifting or Inspiring – but RuPaul reverses that pattern, scoring high in both attributes.

To replicate the success of RuPaul, development teams should look to combine a glamorous experience with positivity and without meanness. Leaning into perceptions like Funny, Uplifting, Original and Fresh – attributes that correlate to higher Intentionality – while avoiding being Unoriginal, Mean and Predictable are the keys to hitting a high note with viewers. 

For a deeper look at RuPaul’s Drag Race, access the Show Snapshot by logging into the eDNA webapp (see screenshot below.)

The Show Snapshot gives you dynamic show-specific data on one page, with all its unique KPIs at a glance – all relative to the competitive landscape. If you’re already an eDNA user, you have access to Show Snapshots like this for all content in the eDNA dataset. Simply access it directly from the search bar on the webapp homepage.

If you make decisions in and around video content for your organization – whether you’re in programming, acquisition, licensing, marketing or development – and do not have eDNA as a core tool to help you plan your strategies, we recommend you sign up for a demo today.

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