The reality TV genre first found a mainstream audience in the ’90s with, but today it’s a world unto itself. Reality shows launch careers, crush dreams and turn ordinary people into household names. Just ask Kelly Clarkson, Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino, Trixie Mattel or Nene Leakes.
You can follow ghost hunts, chase treasure, cheer for undiscovered talent, watch socialites have catfights, witness the genesis (or demise) of a romantic relationship, judge a home renovation or, marvel at tattoo artists or learn how to and the planet.
Plenty of camera crews have gone where no one has gone before. Someone tellthat you’ll soon be able to stream civilians in outer space as part of a new reality show trend. NASA has Space Hero in the works and Discovery will air Who Wants to Be an Astronaut? at some point this year.
You probably won’t find anyone from The Real Housewives or The Bachelor traversing the galaxy (yet?), but you can watch their shows on streaming services. As a fan, you may regularly turn to specific channels to catch the latest installment of your favorite series. Whileor — two brands known for prestige television — aren’t necessarily our first choices to get your reality fix, plenty of other streaming services deliver the reality goods.
Whether you watch reality TV as a guilty pleasure, for inspiration, fun or education, the services below offer enough to stream in small doses or as a bingeable feast. Just be aware that every season of your favorite show might not be available to stream.
With a host of traditional cable networks from Viacom/CBS under its umbrella, Paramount Plus houses a wide variety of reality shows. You can stream older and newer seasons of MTV shows such as Jersey Shore, The Challenge and The Hills. VH1 mainstays like RuPaul’s Drag Race, Black Ink, Basketball Wives and Love & Hip Hop are streaming on the platform, along with the popular CBS hits Survivor, Love Island and Big Brother.
Paramount Plus also has a few reality originals, including The Real World: Homecoming and RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars, which is currently airing new season 7 episodes. Fans will also find titles from CMT (The Last Cowboy) and Paramount Network releases such as Lip Sync Battle, Ink Master and Bar Rescue. Because there’s a designated “Reality” tab on Paramount Plus, it’s easy to find each title in one central location.
The service costs $5 per month for the ad-supported version, but not every season for every show is available. Of the 14 seasons of RuPaul’s Drag Race, only 12 are streaming on the platform. However, all 42 seasons of Survivor are on Paramount Plus.
A giant in the realm of unscripted programming, Discovery Plus is home to some of the genre’s most recognized brands. HGTV, Food Network, Discovery, TLC, Travel Channel, Magnolia Network, Animal Planet, ID, Lifetime and several others are part of the service. In total, there are 14 networks with content on Discovery Plus, which we laid out in a list here.
Multiple subgenres of reality TV available on the platform will have you bouncing from paranormal investigations to fishing expeditions to foodie competitions. And if you’re into celebrities like the Kardashians, Tony Hawk or Martha Stewart, they show up as guests, clients and contestants on various networks.
90 Day Fiance fans can stay up to date with every episode of all the franchise’s spinoffs. Viewers can also stream every iteration of House Hunters and Flip or Flop, as well as follow Chip and Joanna Gaines’ offerings from HGTV to Magnolia Network. Discovery Plus also has exclusive originals like 90 Day: The Single Life and Ghost Adventures: House Calls.
As with other services, however, some seasons are missing for certain shows. Married at First Sight has 14 seasons, but only 12 are available on Discovery Plus, and when I hovered over the show tile, it said there were only eight seasons. Pro tip: Click on a show’s title to see how many full seasons are actually available. Searching is easy, and you can click on a network or type in a title or cast member’s name to find a series.
At $5 a month, Discovery Plus is a bargain for those who love to skip around the reality TV landscape. Scroll through goldmining ventures, alien research and custom motorcycles along with cupcake tutorials and educational romps with dogs.
Peacock offers NBC’s reality slate, including primetime favorites The Voice and America’s Got Talent, but that’s just the beginning. Bravo’s conveyor belt of unscripted series lives on Peacock too, with hits like The Real Housewives franchise, Top Chef, Married to Medicine, Below Deck and Project Runway. Digging around, I again found that not every show is currently available to binge. There are only three seasons of Project Runway on Peacock now, but all of Bravo’s content will stream exclusively on Peacock in September.
Fox’s reality picks are also on the platform, including Hell’s Kitchen, Divorce Court, MasterChef and The Masked Singer. Shows from entertainment channel E! such as Botched can be streamed here too. What about originals? The Real Housewives of Miami and Below Deck Down Under may attract fans of Bravo-lebrities, but Snoop Dogg and Maya Rudolph are just a couple of well-knowns hosting their own original Peacock reality series.
But there’s a catch with this streaming service. Peacock users with free accounts can only access a limited number of episodes. You must upgrade to one of the service’s paid subscriptions — which start at $5 a month — to watch full seasons.
Hulu harvests much of its catalog from traditional networks like ABC, CBS, NBC, Fox, E!, VH1, BET, A&E and more. But this has disadvantages. One of them is that full seasons aren’t available for every series. While it has older seasons of Bravo and Lifetime shows like The Real Housewives and Married at First Sight, current seasons are not airing on Hulu, so you can’t watch episodes the next day. Other series like The Bachelorette and The Voice only have one or two seasons on the platform.
For Fox shows such as The Masked Singer or MasterChef Junior, however, current episodes and full seasons are both available. And you can still find popular titles in Hulu’s catalog such as Shark Tank, American Idol, Hoarders and Storage Wars, as well as Hulu originals like the new Kardashians show. Later this year the streamer will lose NBC-owned content, but at least you can binge what you like through the summer.
Hulu keeps its reality lineup well-organized with a dedicated tab on the app. For the basic $7 subscription, you can take your pick from an assortment of channels.
During the past five years, Netflix has been gradually building its platter of reality fare. Ultimate Beastmaster was its first release, but the streamer’s made an imprint in dating and cooking entertainment. The Great British Baking Show and Is It Cake? have become hits with viewers, and series such as Love Is Blind, The Circle and Too Hot to Handle became hot topics on the internet. However, food and romance aren’t the only two areas that Netflix covers in the reality world. Home improvement, mindfulness, travel and international releases are among the categories you’ll find on the service.
Originals Selling Sunset and Bling Empire give viewers a peek inside luxurious lifestyles and real estate while Floor is Lava and Bullsh*t the Game Show put a different spin on… game shows. If you’re into music contests, Rhythm + Flow focuses on budding hip-hop artists while Sing On is a karaoke-style competition.
There’s also a row of titles described as “rugged” that features jail-themed docuseries, a peek into the custom vehicle industry, or unique jobs like funeral directors. With Netflix, the monthly cost — which runs from $10 up to $20 — is significantly higher than other services, but know what to expect.
The majority of Netflix’s reality slate is made up of originals like Tidying Up With Marie Kondo and Nailed It, but a sprinkling of licensed series such as Old Enough and Tiny House Nation are also on the platform. Whatever you do, do yourself a favor and skip the dating-in-a-creature-mask weirdness of Sexy Beasts.
How we chose these reality TV streaming services
Other streaming services such as Apple TV Plus, Disney Plus, Prime and HBO Max offer high quality entertainment, but when it comes to reality TV, scope and preference is key. Though we looked at their reality rosters, the platforms on this list have large catalogs to offer for established franchises, new releases and originals.
Netflix may not be top of mind for this genre, but according to Nielsen, the streamer has found huge popularity with some of its unscripted titles. Specifically, Selling Sunset and The Great British Baking Show have performed very well. For that reason, Netflix edged out rivals like Prime and Disney Plus. I also examined Parrot Analytics statistics between 2020 and 2022 and found that shows such as RuPaul’s Drag Race, Shark Tank, The Voice and Survivor are consistently in the top rankings in terms of audience demand.
Reality TV streaming services FAQs
How do I sift through the subgenres of reality TV?
It’s a matter of preference. Do you prefer cooking tutorials and competitions? Are you into rich people’s lifestyles or everyday families? What about doing deep dives into paranormal research or tough jobs? Want to root for an underdog to win? Each service on this list offers a variety of unscripted content that doesn’t just stick to one format.
Get to know each channel where mainstream staples and fan favorites like The Voice, RuPaul’s Drag Race and Food Network shows can be found. But also look up niche series related to your interests. There’s usually something for everyone, including veterinarians who specialize in dermatology and experts in urban legends and curses.
Are there any free services with reality shows?
Yes. Free streaming services Tubi, Pluto and Crackle have a selection of reality TV series if you’re in the mood for older or newer releases. Tubi carries Real Housewives offshoots set in Vancouver, Sydney and Durban along with Fear Factor, Beat Shazam, Gordon Ramsay’s series and 2022’s Joe Millionaire. Scroll through Tubi’s reality tab to see its entire catalog.
Pluto also has a dedicated reality section where you can stream shows like Operation Repo, Jersey Shore, Storage Wars or Rescue 911. Crackle has a string of recognizable and obscure titles such as Kitchen Nightmares, The Mediator (2022) and Celebrity Sweat.
What about streaming on network sites and apps?
If you’re not watching reality TV on cable or broadcast networks, then you may wonder about streaming your shows on an app or website. But ABC, Bravo, VH1, Fox and other networks require you to sign in with a paid TV provider in order to access content on their sites and apps. ABC urges viewers to sign up for Hulu to stream anything under the brand’s umbrella. Therefore, we encourage cord-cutters to roll with one of these streaming services instead.