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Why is Reality TV Show Shark Tank a Ratings Hit?

Reality TV Show Shark TankThe Reality TV Show phenomena has grown to almost grotesque proportions. Reality TV shows started out with a few experiments like the grandaddies of them all, MTV’s Real Life and CBS’s Survivor. Now, the Reality TV show landscape is littered with an exponentially increasing amount of niche interest programming from gypsy weddings to celebrity ghost stories to cooking competitions and so much more. It seems any quirky, off beat occupation can be the subject of a reality TV show too. The vast majority of reality programming is just repetitive, boring, and borderline weird. A few reality shows stand out. I have always been a big Survivor fan. I like the social interplay, strategy, scheming, and human drama of  it all; I have seen every episode. Another favorite is the Shark Tank. The show has really hit its stride and has increasing viewership every week. Why is Shark Tank such a ratings hit?

Most Engaging and Intelligent Reality TV Show

I usually spend Friday nights at home. My wife coaches until 9:30 or so and usually doesn’t get home until ten. We go out on Saturday nights. That leaves me with the kids and the Shark Tank. I usually watch with at least one (usually two or three) of my kids. The funny thing is, Shark Tank gets us talking. No other reality TV show, or any TV show for that matter, provokes discussion like the Shark Tank. We talk about the entrepreneurs’ personalities, the way the deals are structured, the quality of the products, the Sharks’ funny lines and so much more. The discussions carry on after the show ends too. Shark Tank is a reality TV show that creates its own reality right in my living room, it sparks engaging and intelligent conversations between my family as it airs.  Many of the entrepreneurs I interviewed for this site watch with their families too, some have even brought their kids on the set while pitching.

I think one of the reasons Shark Tank is so popular, is the interactive dynamic it creates. People all over the country are having similar discussions about each entrepreneur and product or each Shark’s reactions and one-liners. But the interaction is very much a two way street. Every one on the show, Sharks and entrepreneurs, have a product to sell. The natural interaction of the market place creates a level of engagement that very few TV shows, reality TV show or otherwise, can duplicate. Sharks and entrepreneurs alike are on social media, sharing their reactions and messages with the world. Whether an entrepreneur gets funded by a Shark or not, they will be “out there” and accessible to the media and the general public. They’ll engage because that’s the nature of business: no engagement = no sales = no business! It’s a unique television phenomena, and it’s growing.

Shark Tank Entrepreneurs Give their Reasons

I could go on and on about why I like Shark Tank and why I think it is such a big hit, but I decided to ask some entrepreneurs why they think Shark Tank is the best reality TV show out there. Some of these entrepreneurs have appeared on the show, some have not, but they are all fans. Their answers to the question “Why is the Reality TV Show Shark Tank a Ratings Hit?” follow:

Barbara from Baby Dipper:

“I find it interesting to watch the interactions between the entrepreneurs and the sharks. I’m taking mental notes of what to do or not to do if I ever make it on the show. It is definitely a learning process even if I never try to go in front of the sharks.”

Martha from Action Wipes:

“I love watching America’s ingenuity. Most of the products on the show have been created from a personal need. It’s very cool.”


“I’ve been watching since day 1. The show has been such an inspiration to me. Watching the show gives me motivation to continue to chase my dreams and never give up. It’s really a great educational experience for the whole family.”

Becky from Fanny Seats:

“Besides being entertaining for me it is a business class! I learn from the sharks as well as the presenters. Sharks are about numbers & sales. While the presenters share what they’ve learned along the way patents to manufacturing.”


“Personally, one of the reasons it’s become so popular is because in some cases you’re seeing entrepreneurs dreams come true. You are seeing legitimate, hard hard-working, average people coming across the screen saying ‘I’ve given my all.’  In a sense,  many others get  ‘I’m not going to stop. I’m going to keep going…growing…learning.’  When that opportunity arrives, people are really more motivated to see good things happen for themselves and others.”

Lynn from Crazy Bitch Tea:

“I have learned SO much from watching every episode of Shark Tank! I truly believe my business will be successful because I’ve learned what smart things to do and also what NOT to do. HUGE lessons. Shark Tank is a School for entrepreneurs, everyone starting a business will learn something from this show!”

Andrew from Blueberry Ln:

“Shark Tank is a ‘blind taste test’ for entrepreneurial passion. The Sharks have to rely on their own instincts while getting through what basically amounts to on-air due diligence — finding out the entrepreneur’s background and what they’re trying to do, and how they plan to get from A to B. Good products and “bad” products make it onto the show, but notice that nobody that appears lacks passion and drive. This is what America connects with, and it gets such a unique reaction from viewers and fans. After watching the show for years, I’m convinced it’s always more about the person than the product.”

Carrissa from Small Businesses do it Better:

 “Nearly each episode is produced like a mini-movie. You get a happy, feel-good entrepreneur, one that maddens or pushes your buttons, and at least one that gets invested in. Throw in entrepreneurial hope, dreams coming true and some occasional celebrities and you have ratings gold!”


“We love watching with our children. Our daughter wanted to start her own business (she’s 11) so she wrote a pitch and started with, “Good evening Sharks.” My husband and I could not say no! ST is showing our young children that you have to ask for what you want and believe in yourself. Over and over the Sharks say they invest in the people, not necessarily the product. Love that!”

Julie from Slawsa:

“America has always been a nation that pulls for the underdog and aspires to see the little guy succeed. Like almost any reality TVshow, we see a little bit of ourselves in the contestants but unlike most reality TV, we feel good about watching this show as it teaches business lessons we can all learn from. Shark Tank gives hope in that everyone, regardless of background, can live the American dream.”

Perhaps the most poignant answer came from Dominique Barteet, creator of One Sole Shoes, one of the most successful entrepreneurs to appear on Shark Tank:

“Because people like to dream..and they like to see underdogs make it..or average people succeed, and they think maybe they can do it too. They also like to see train wrecks!”

Why do you think Shark Tank is such a successful reality TV show? We’d love to hear your answers in the comments!

About Rob Merlino

Entrepreneur, auteur, raconteur. Rob Merlino is a blogger and writer who enjoys the Shark Tank TV show and Hot Dogs. A father of five who freelances in a variety of publications, Rob has a stable of websites including Shark Tank Blog, Hot Dog Stories, Rob and more.


  1. I like watching Shark Tank since two of them are actually on Dragon’s Den (Canadian ver). Anyway, love watching these types of show while eating my dinner.

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