Hit TV: The American Viewer, Part 4
Advice for streamers: Make more of these things the audience actually likes
This is the last in my four-part series about the American audience, for paid subscribers only. Part 1 covered geography, age, race and gender; Part 2, politics, money and religion; Part 3, how and where we watch TV, and the opportunities.
Sometimes, it feels like the streamers — or the people running the streamers — are making the types of shows they want to watch and are just sort of hoping that America changes its viewing habits, rather than making shows that conform to the tastes of most Americans.
To make shows Americans want to watch, you have to know who your customers are. Which has been the point of this entire series. The entertainment company (traditional or disruptor) that figures this out will have a leg up in the streaming wars.
As I wrote earlier, this American Viewer series was partly inspired by Matthew Yglesias’ articles on “popularism,” a controversial political theory that politicians should say and run on popular things (Yglesias argues for this from the center-left). That probably doesn’t sound controversial to most people, until you get into specific political issues, then everyone gets angry at each other — mostly on Twitter (And as I argued two days ago, Twitter isn’t real life.)
I’m a “popularist” when it comes to TV content. I think studios, streamers, networks and others should make “popular” shows and films. On the surface, this doesn’t sound controversial; obviously the more people who watch a streamer’s shows, the better!
In practice, though, many streamers — unburdened from the pressure of delivering ratings until only recently — make a lot of unpopular shows, but consider them successful if they win awards or feel “buzzy”. Even though I stated that I wasn’t factoring in critical acclaim in my “Which Streamer Has the Most Bombs in 2022?” series, the biggest complaint I got from corp comms people afterwards was that I did not factor in buzz and acclaim!
I’m not saying there’s no place for buzzy, prestige TV shows and films, but that place is much, much smaller than most people in Hollywood think.
I wrote three previous installments that examined the average American Viewer and how they watch TV. Now we move to the last part:
What types of shows are actually popular.
In this edition, you will learn:
Just how MUCH bigger the NFL is than anything else
But also how surprisingly big awards shows are too
The state of sitcoms and true crime
Procedurals and reality data on broadcast…
…and what genres are working on streaming