Veracity and Social Value of Reality Television Series: Shark Tank

Academic Paper, 2016

6 Pages



Shark Tank is an American based reality television series that first premiered on ABC Television on 9th August 2009. The initial set that brought forth the show is the Dragon’s Den franchise, which aired in Japan about eight years earlier. The concept behind Shark Tank is the entrepreneurial nature of life, and as such, the show seeks to boost entrepreneurs’ ideas and existing businesses. The structure is such that there is a panel of very influential investors referred to as the ‘Sharks’, aspiring businessmen and women and an audience. The ‘Sharks’ offer potential businessmen the investment for their businesses based on merit and how appealing the ventures promise to be rewarding. The producers of the show pay the investor panel, and the potential investors’ only gain is if their business ideas are taken up. The interaction is more of pitching for funding. Thus, the purpose of this research paper is to establish the veracity and social value of the show, define its target audience about other reality shows, as well as measure the show content against relevant facts and professional opinions.


The reality show Shark Tank in evaluation turns out to possess positive and negative impacts on the entrepreneurs engaged in the course of running it. The veracity therein, is thus, perfect on some occasions and very flawed in some. The most notable inaccuracy and flaw of the show are that over the period it has been showing, most of the deals sealed do not materialise. The inability to successfully implement agreements attributes to various factors.

Prejudgment and Assumption

Once aspiring entrepreneurs come to the show to pitch their businesses, they expect fairness in the analysis. It is what they deem as the agreement before the show. However, some of the ‘Sharks’ literally deny their ideas right from the onset and in a brutal manner that is so demotivating (Feloni 1). The core reason may sometimes be bias or assumption, which denies some potential ideas a chance to access funding. The most brutal ‘Shark’ being Kevin O’Leary is very dismissive. Thus, such ideas die from the onset. In other instances, entrepreneurs are not exceptional in pitching, but do have sound ideas. The best structure would be to have analysts look into their businesses without the itching, but instead pitch it to them if they find the ventures productive. Veracity involves elaborate interrogation of ideas and situations that surround their business environment. Lack of it implies that the outcome is not the best-analysed decision for the panelists.


The timeframe for pitching given by the show producers is one hour after which if successful, the detailing of the agreements begins. The phase after the show is the most rigorous as it involves setting detailed terms of engagement between the business owners and the interested panelist, who is officially the investor. The two parties assemble their legal teams to go through the desired detailing offered by the panelist at hand. Based on how comfortable the entrepreneur is, he/she will agree or disagree on the terms given. Most of the conditions often favour the panelists who are inaccurate as presented to viewers and influences their perception in a slightly skewed dimension. If and when the agreement fails, the contracting parties may seek a way out through compromise to come to an amicable solution. The back and forth may take much time to the extent that the two sides give up the deal. Such instances are not entirely brought to light as they are termed ‘behind the scene’ scenarios, which impact on the integrity of the show regardless.

Technicalities Inadequacies

The success of any business, funded or unfunded by investors lies within the capacity to deliver. Financials are just, but one of the aspects of function built, the rest include market, technical know-how and staffing. By the time an entrepreneur comes to Shark Tank to seek investor input, the assumption is that the company or idea they possess has the necessary capacity to deliver and the much needed is only finances. However, many companies tend to maintain small technicalities regarding equipment, management, financial recording and reporting, community service responsibility and proper human resource capacity. On realisation of the mentioned shortcomings, Shark Tank investors tend to back out because they will have to input more to acquire desired size and technical abilities (Billy 1). Also, in companies with the best capacity, but no proper financial reporting or management, financiers quit due to the risk of being looped into non-compliance in taxes or funds mismanagement.

Breach of contract

Successful pitching by entrepreneurs means they are transparent to make a covenant with the interested ‘Shark’. Terms are written and agreed upon with legalities and compliances put in place. The failure for any of the parties to meet the agreed details means the breach of contract. The integrity of the show is again at a loss since what portrayal on the show is the perceived success of every deal undertaken. However, there are numerous causes of contract breaches and those, in reality, lead to a lower success rate of the media for the television series.

The show also lacks proper authenticity as there is a gap between the purpose for its existence and what happens in reality. Lack of originality is lost not in the faithfulness of the producers in most cases, but arises due to the motives of the participants. Every businessman in any industry seeks to gain from any given engagement, and the ‘sharks’ and potential investors are no different. The show was created to provide a platform for investors to link with owners of ventures who are in need of finances offered by the former. However, some venture owners only appear on the show not seeking funds, but to boost their brand visibility. The Shark Tank series does not only have viewers in the USA, Canada and Britain, but can be accessed online globally via YouTube. The kind of reach it hence provides is global. Appearing on the show to highlight a product with the aim of making it known to potential clients means an investor gets a global reach. After that, investors if funded, decline citing that their sole purpose was to gain visibility. Therefore, the original meaning is not served, and conniving entrepreneurs misuse the platform.

On the other hand, contractual agreements by the producers and the franchise of the show attract the scrutiny of the requisites for undertaking the program. The reward aspect of the show is notwithstanding a money-making venture. Usually, shows earn from commercial advertisements they attract to be placed during the airing and from endorsements given by companies that relate to their nature and theme. Also, on social media, the shows earn value base on views and ratings on various platforms such as YouTube. However, the owning franchise of the show sought royalties from those willing to participate in it, especially for entrepreneurs. The fact that one acquires a financier and is then needed to pay fees for being aired once on the series implies an added expense. Until 2013, that was the case which consequently discouraged very potential business ventures from accessing the show for fear of such charges as royalties and flawed the authenticity. It took the effort of investor Mark Cuban to change the royalties’ clause on the premise that it is exploitative of those who in fact need financing.

Social Values and Implications

Critical insight into the Shark Tank reality show depicts immense precision in the manner of delivery. The show involves an hour for each presentation, but the same is edited down to reasonably ten minutes or less. The production team is exceptional with the staging and lighting on set. Scientifically, the downsizing of the time for each pitch creates a practical impact on the viewer’s attention span, thus, earning them a significant following all over the world. The presentation lies in the precision characterised by the dramatic instances picked from what could have been a flat performance in the reality show before editing. The aspects of production pronounce both positives and negatives with the downside being that viewers’ opinions and perceptions sway by an edited version of the reality which in most instances is contrary if the show was in whole. The merits imparted to the society through this media reality show are varied as follows.

Job Creation

There are numerous beneficiaries of the Shark Tank television series who have had success in their ventures due to their steady capital. In this regard, the success stories boost their operations and in the process increase employment opportunities for surrounding populations (Catherine 1). In return, they reduce unemployment, raise taxes to the central government and improve the standards of living by extension to the communities within which they operate. On Forbes list, there are various examples of the successes, which include the Scrub Daddy Venture whose essential product was Superior sponges asking for a financial chip in worth 200,000$ with the sharks/investors stake being 20% in equity as at 2012 (Susan 1). As it turns out, by 2015, the company hit revenue of more than $20Million by 2015 grossly benefiting the investor Lori Greiner. The company managed to employ over 50 people as at 2015 and exhibited potential even to add more.

Enhanced services and product experience

The kind of business ideas pitched at Shark Tank is inspired differently. The motives vary from the need to make enormous profits to the urge to efficiently serve the society through innovation, usually from identifying such a need gap in the market or from a bad trade experience. The latter allows for new products and services that are geared towards expedience and efficiency, thus, providing the best quality in the market (Denise 1). The benefit of new products and services is that they give better customer experience and solve a pressing issue in the market. A good instance of such a venture is the Tipsy Elves aired in 2013 through which the founders, Evan Mendelsohn and Nick Morton observed that the market did not have a central point to buy sweaters and holiday clothing and so they sought to have a venture that is centralized and makes the service of sweater shopping easy and efficient.

Networking and access to business knowledge

The show and other related reality shows seek audience through showcasing and workshops. The Shark Tank show undertakes training of college and university students on the best practice for entrepreneurship. Also, businessmen who come to the show, with or without succeeding to secure funding usually have accessed a pool of resources for networking, and the experience itself is an eye-opener (Arora and Saxena 21). One obtains a platform where they are reached out to by other potential investors and their ideas flourish. Such events also mean that individuals get to interact with fellow people in business to share ideas and create long-term partnerships.

Target Audience and Opinions on Reality Television Series

The target audience for reality television shows is almost similar across the board. It is theme-specific in that if the reality show relates to a business such as Shark Tank, then the audience focus is mainly potential businessmen, as well as formidable investors (Baumann and Ulrike 105). The initial geographical scope was the USA, but the same expanded to a global reach with the sprouting of similar shows in Australia, South Africa and Asia. Corporates and advertising agencies form institutions that follow reality shows closely with the central focus on statistics about the scope of reach. The purpose of such facilities is to seek widely watched reality shows and advertise appropriately for their clients whose core business is in line with the kind of the audience watching.

Opinion shapers and academicians have criticised the reality show and many others in equal measure. Some of them are negative, but most cite the positive evaluation of the shows with instances of economic and financial gains. Though the content in the Shark Tank show is over half edited to fit the time spans accorded on television, the originality tends to be towards the best practice with praise form weeklies such as Entertainment weekly where the writer John Wolk acknowledges that the investors in the show are a relief to the existing capital crunch as at the show’s launch in 2009. Other opinion shapers point to its tedious structure and appreciate that once one has successfully pitched their business and it hits the ground running, then the probability of success is very high. Academically, the show is seen to highlight the economic aspects of the recession through early years of the 21st Century. Reality series provided relief to a desperate economy, even though in small measure, but very valuable.


Reality television shows have comprehensive coverage of the word thanks to the internet. Shark Tank is one such show that was incepted in 2009 and has its initial geographical scope within the USA. However, due to new media, the same is now accessible to the world. The show has a few shortcomings on its veracity, emanating from contractual agreements made between investors and entrepreneurs where some of the contracts are not honored, yet the public perception is that they succeed. Socially, the series is of great value as it has enabled job creation through financed ventures, improved services offered to clients due to the funding of innovative products and services, as well as offer entrepreneurs and students a platform for networking and a pool of business knowledge through workshops and meeting events. Reality television shows are educative and enhance the new media form through a global reach approach to business.

Works Cited

Arora, A., and A. Saxena Arora. "“Supply Chain—Marketing Shark Tank” Experiential Lab Game in Interdisciplinary Business Education: Qualitative and Quantitative Analyses."Decision Sciences Journal of Innovative Education 13.1 (2015): 21-43. Print.

Baumann, Sabine, and Ulrike Rohn. "Meet the Predators: the Branding Practices behind Dragons’ Den, Shark Tank, and Höhle der Löwen."VIEW Journal of European Television History and Culture 5.9 (2016): 105-115. Print.

Billy, Iris, et al. "Case study of institutional growth in entrepreneurship at Medgar Evers College."American Journal of Entrepreneurship 9.1 (2016): 1. Print.

Catherine, Clifford. “'Shark Tank' celebrates major milestones: $100 million in deals and 10,000 jobs created.” CNBC Market it. 24 Feb. Web. 2017.

Denise, O’Berry. “What the sharks on shark tank can teach you about your business.” American Express. 23 Feb. Web. 2015.

Feloni, Richard. “15 behind-the-scenes secrets you didn't know about 'Shark Tank'.” Business Insider. 22 Sept. Web. 2016. .

Susan, Adams. “Ten of the Best Businesses to Come Out Of Shark Tank.” Forbes Entrepreneurs. 16 Mar. Web. 2016. . Accessed 26 January 2018.


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Veracity and Social Value of Reality Television Series: Shark Tank
University of Constance
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veracity, social, value, reality, television, series, shark, tank
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Dr. Amos Wesonga (Author), 2016, Veracity and Social Value of Reality Television Series: Shark Tank, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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