OMNI Television bets on Shahs of Sunset as possible game-changer

Rogers Media executive VP of programming Malcolm Dunlop says that while the show is controversial, it can also get viewers tuning in.

OMNI Television isn’t the first TV channel to rely heavily on U.S. reality shows to grow its audience with new-look programming.

Look what Jersey Shore did for MTV and Keeping Up With the Kardashians did for E! Canada over at Bell Media.

So Malcolm Dunlop, executive VP of programming at Rogers Media, is looking to another Ryan Seacrest reality show about upwardly mobile Americans, Shahs of Sunset, to change it up at OMNI Television, the multilingual, multicultural network.

“Something like this is thinking outside the box,” Dunlop tells Playback Daily ahead of the English-language reality show about ultra-rich Iranian-Americans shopping on Rodeo Drive or holding opulent family feasts at home bowing on OMNI on April 8.

Dunlop says he acquired Shahs of Sunset, from the U.S. Bravo channel and Ryan Seacrest Productions, after viewing the trailer.

That looks so far like a safe bet, judging by the strong debut for Shahs of Sunset on Bravo in mid-March.

The U.S. launch also provoked a minor viewer backlash over claims the reality show plays into prevailing stereotypes about Muslim Americans.

“You never want negative press, but it’s a controversial show,” Dunlop insists, while conceding controversy can also get viewers tuning in.

OMNI Television is doing more to shake up its schedule, including planning to air back-to-back episodes of How I Met Your Mother on Monday nights and airing Bollywood movies with English-subtitles on Sunday afternoon.

And while it’s early days, Dunlop isn’t ruling out a Canadian version of Shahs of Sunset in the distant future.

“It’s great to have a show like this on the (OMNI) station to really be able to promote as a OMNI show, and moving forward, if something like this works, we can do this on OMNI,” he insists.