Will O.J. Simpson Get a Reality TV Show if He Is Freed?

O.J. Simpson
O.J. Simpson sits during an evidentiary hearing in Clark County District Court in Las Vegas. Reuters

Updated | Perhaps as soon as October 1, O.J. Simpson will be a free man. It's hard for many to imagine a world in which the Juice is indeed loose (he hasn't been since 2008, when he was locked up for charges related to an armed confrontation with sports memorabilia dealers in a Las Vegas hotel room), but after Simpson was granted parole Thursday, we know for certain the former NFL running back can start plottting his next career move.

Related: O.J. Simpson saga a distinctly American saga of race, privilege

As we saw from last year's media frenzy surrounding the FX miniseries The People v. O.J. Simpson and the Oscar-winning ESPN documentary O.J.: Made in America, America is still fascinated by Simpson's story. This means that, as a free man, he could have plenty of opportunities to bump up his current net worth, which has been estimated at around $250,000.

The most commonly floated idea for Simpson's life after incarceration is a reality show. In March, TMZ spoke with TV industry professionals who said there would be interest, and that, as TMZ writes, "some producers are getting ready to scramble to sign him," although there would be concerns over public backlash and the ability to land advertisers.

Those who spoke with The Hollywood Reporter raised similar concerns. "The danger of train wreck shows is that you've got to watch out for the train because it will run you over," said 44 Blue Productions CEO Rasha Drachkovitch.

Others wondered whether a 70-year-old Simpson would be a compelling subject for a show. "The last time I saw him interviewed, he was what I'd call bad television," David Lyle, president of producers consortium PactUS, told THR. "So I don't think he's going to be giving the Kardashians a run for their money—unless he married one, I suppose."

Despite concerns, THR did note that "many in the industry think a reality show might soon follow [Simpson's parole]," echoing the sentiment expressed by those who spoke with TMZ.

Simpson even has some reality TV experience. In 2006, he starred in a pay-per-view special called Juiced, in which he performed hidden-camera pranks on unsuspecting citizens. Here's a short Inside Edition piece on the show from 2016, in which we see Simpson posing as a pizza delivery man, window washer and even a car salesman trying to peddle a white Bronco with great "escapability."

If advertisers are scared away by associating themselves with Simpson if and when he is freed from prison, pay per view may once again be an option.

2006 was also the year Simpson's book If I Did It—in which he imagined how he would have killed Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman if he were to have committed the crime—was scheduled to be released, and along with it a two-part TV special. Both were canceled amid fierce public backlash, although the book was released eventually released a year later. It became a New York Times best-seller.

A potential post-prison reality show would require advertising money, which is predicated on public opinion, and it's hard to gauge how the public will react to Simpson if he should be set free in 2017. Before he was sentenced in 2007, it had been difficult for the public to grasp Simpson as a public figure following his 1995 acquittal. Most people thought he was a murderer, and the bizarre ways he capitalized on his infamy were unsettling. In the wake of The People v. O.J. Simpson and O.J.: Made in America, it now feels as if his story has been properly contextualized. It may be the weirdest thing to ever happen in America history, but it's a little easier to digest now that it's been excavated so thoroughly.

Maybe the public will find the idea of a network promoting Simpson as abhorrent now as they did 10 years ago, and maybe his post-prison life will be sad and uninteresting. A lot has happened in the United States over the course of the past decade, though—especially recently—and as 2016 demonstrated, the public still has an appetite for Simpson's story. There's going to be plenty of money to be made if they can find a way to stomach Simpson as a public figure.

This story was updated to reflect the results of O.J. Simpson's Thursday parole hearing. Simpson will reportedly be released in October.