Want to make a TV series? Keep These 5 Principles in Mind

Posted October 05, 2017
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Do you want to produce a series for TV or the Internet?

The time has never been better to produce your own series. There are thousands of cable channels around the world that are starving for content, in addition to the many more 'channels' and platforms on the web that also need content. As TV moves to the web with more and more platforms launching every day, if you make quality content, you could sell your work to these content distributors.

Whether your idea for a series is fiction or reality based, there are some principles to keep in mind when going to sell your series when it comes to the content. Once you have the content the best way to sell your idea is using a pitch reel, and you can check out some tips on selling here. But before you sell, you need to make sure that your idea is something people want to see. Just because something is interesting to you, doesn't mean that it will be to the general viewing public.

Now, your idea doesn't have to be so generally appealing, with such a large number of outlets for content and a viewership that is increasingly fragmented you can certainly find and exploit a niche rather than create something with lowest common denominator appeal. However, there are some basic principles you should consider as outlined by Karie Acosta. Acosta is the senior brand strategist at BBH LA, a leading global advertising and marketing firm.

Acosta notes that we are currently living in a huge explosion of content due to the expanding media landscape. With so many more shows on now, there is a lot of data to analyze and see what works and what doesn't based on the hits. First off, looking at recent hits Acosta notes that the biggest hits have a relatively simple idea at their heart. While they may have some complex storytelling employed, you can boil down the basic story or theme of a hit show to a single sentence.

Next: Don't worry about the fragmented audience. While me think that you can certainly make a good career exploiting a single niche, Acosta thinks you should aim big and look for something that has mass appeal, even if it seems niche.

Three: Spend time with your targeted audience. See what they like and what they are looking for in a show. If you are targeting millennials, hang out with them.

Take advantage of cultural codes. If you are looking to produce a series for TV or web chances are you've seen a lot of TV and movies. Use that information to play on some previously employed tropes or iconic images to help your work stand out.

Lastly: "Content is King, but context is Queen." 

Katie Acosta, BBH LA's senior brand strategist gives her top 5 principles to a successful TV series for

Between 2006 and 2016, the number of scripted TV series jumped from 192 to more than 450, with broadcast, cable and streaming all fighting for hits. The world watches a billion hours of YouTube per day, and users spend over 8 percent of their waking hours streaming Netflix. But it’s still not enough to keep up. Everywhere you turn there’s a new show. A new trailer. It goes in one ear and out the other. 

So how do you capture attention? How do you make a show must-watch? Not too long ago, all you had to do was put it on air. There were only a handful of channels. There was only so much to watch. Not anymore.

While there is no surefire way to guarantee a hit, there are principles to follow—five to be exact. This list is nowhere near all-inclusive, and of course you’ll have your outliers, but it’s a good place to start. 

Read the full list here.


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