Successful Television

January 27, 2011 at 5:28 pm Leave a comment

The premises are often simple.

  • The life of an unconventional family. (Modern Family)
  • The life of six close friends living in New York. (Friends)
  • A group of surgeons at a Seattle hospital. (Grey’s Anatomy)
  • A group of outcast high schoolers who sing and dance. (Glee)

So, what is the recipe for a successful television show? Many different theories and opinions have been formed about such ingredients. Even though predicting the elements of a successful TV show is far from being a science, there are some guidelines. The majority agree that a profitable show is made up of a handful of witty material, a dash of talented cast with chemistry, and a dollop of exceptional marketing strategies. The television show Friends (my favorite show.. ever) seemed to have every ingredient for success, eventually becoming one of the most popular sitcoms of all time. Everything seemed to fit into place when they began the show in 1994. Lasting for 10 years, the half-hour sitcom about the lives of six close friends quickly became a phenomenon.

Friends

Photo Credit: Warner Brothers

As I said before, many successful television shows begin with a simple premises, yet go on to become some of the most popular in the industry. The writing is just as important as the cast. Good writing can not be appreciated when performed by a defective cast. Just as a great cast can not act to their full potential accompanied by lousy writing.

Nevertheless, would any of the above television shows have been as successful as they are/were if there had not been any marketing, publicity or advertisers? Unfortunately, many popular shows and programs have been cancelled over the years because advertisers have considered their audiences too old, too young, or too poor. If there are not enough advertisers to support a television show, it is unlikely to continue to stay on the air (even if the show is popular and has great content). A lot of the time, the quality of the content and the television ratings for a show have nothing to do with each other. Television ratings are based on popularity, while the quality can be awful, and still get great ratings, (ex. Jersey Shore). I realize that some of you may find Jersey Shore entertaining, but I don’t think anyone is able to say that the MTV reality series has good, quality content.

It is easy to believe that television shows become successful based on a talented cast, or solely because of the uproarious material. In reality, studies have shown countless factors that make up a profitable television show, some of which can not even be controlled.

What do you think makes a show successful?

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