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How do you get viewers to your reality show? One billionaire is bribing them with charity

🕐 2 min read

Not very many people watched the first three episodes “StartUp U,” a new ABC Family reality show about millennial entrepreneurs who go to Draper University in Silicon Valley, and pitch new business ideas to venture capitalists in hopes of landing investments. Billionaire Tim Draper, one of the stars of the show and the namesake of the aforementioned school/boot camp, had an idea of his own.

“I will give $1 million to charity if we get 1 million viewers tonight!!!!” he wrote on Facebook and Twitter on Monday, a day before the episode aired. “Watch @StartupU on ABC Family 10:00 tonight!! Tell everyone!!!”

The next day he elaborated, posting a video of himself and detailing the charities that would benefit, many of which had a personal connection. “I’m counting on you,” he said. “So are all these charities.”

While a charitable bribe is certainly a new way to get viewers to your show, unfortunately, it hasn’t paid off so far. According to Nielsen, Tuesday’s episode didn’t meet the minimum standard for reporting ratings; Andy Dehnart of RealityBlurred reports that the show got a mere 63,000 viewers, only a 16,000-viewer increase from the previous week.

Still, according to an ABC Family representative, Draper’s pledge is contingent on a combination of the episode’s L+3 and L+7 ratings (translated, the amount of people that watch later on their DVRs). So the network won’t know until next week if all of those numbers add up to a million.

While it seems like a long shot at this point, it’s not the worst strategy. At the very least, it gets people talking, which is certainly part of the battle in a very crowded reality show slate. Although there are currently no plans for Draper to give the money away even if he doesn’t get a million viewers, that would be the next logical step for even more goodwill for him — and the show.

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