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ABC, EBay Make Reality Show Happen

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-04-21

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With a working title of "Make It Happen," a reality show to run on ABC will feature families selling off a variety of items on eBay as they try to raise cash for fulfilling a family dream.

Ever since "Survivor" debuted one summer and kicked off a slew of reality programming that persists to today, TV networks have ate up the concept, particularly since they pay relatively little money to the people who appear on them, as compared to the casts of successful, long-running shows like the recently ended "Everybody Loves Raymond" or the still-popular-in-reruns "Seinfeld."

The latest concept features people trying to earn money for themselves through eBay auctions. You have to give it to Hollywood, really. MediaPost reported on the forthcoming summer series, which will air twice a week on ABC.

No dreams are "too quirky, exciting, or outrageous," unless they involve home or personal makeovers, or surgeries. Those are prohibited under the terms of the nationwide search for participants.

Those families, with the help of expert appraisers, will cull through their collected items for ones that could garner lots of bids and interest from eBay's millions of registered users. An episode will air on Monday to introduce families and their dreams, and bidding will start for the items they put up for auction.

On Fridays, they will watch the "live culmination" of the bidding action for those items. MediaPost has more on this:

The show is expected to serve as a marketing vehicle for eBay through brand integration in the content, the show's role in driving traffic to its site, and favorable PR as eBay plays a role in helping endearing families fulfill their wishes.

To make this work, eBay may have to address a couple of issues that long-time users of the service will immediately think of as potential show-stoppers: shill bidders and auction snipers.

It's likely eBay can handle the shill bidders should they aggressively choose to do so, especially if those bidders are ones with a history of doing so. New shill bidders who are unknown to eBay's security people could cause some havoc.

The auction sniping issue could be very problematic. Veteran bidders have learned to use services or software that hits auctions with bids in the last seconds they run; sellers in turn have increasingly switched to Buy It Now auctions instead of risking a low-ball ending price from a sniped auction.

Snipers have ruined countless auctions for sellers and buyers, because they prevent bidders from boosting up prices to where sellers can earn a better profit. If the series proves popular, sniping may not be an issue because the reality show auctions may draw sustained traffic and bidding to make sniping less likely to succeed at a basement price.

For families who want to travel, or restore the environment, or even save their companies, Make It Happen could deliver the type of happy endings that Hollywood likes best.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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