The Role of Media in a TV Show’s Success

Nikki Chellaswami, Insights Analysts

June 8th, 2023

TV shows are a pinnacle of popular culture. Fans love keeping up with and talking about their favorite shows. But what role does the media play in a show’s success? How do release strategies impact show readership? And does media coverage really indicate viewership?

We analyzed nearly 14,000 articles across major national publications and entertainment outlets to get these answers, and so much more. Keep reading for a glimpse into some of the biggest findings.

The full season drop results in a drop off in readership.

We compared hit shows that were released one episode per week with seasons that dropped all at once. Not only did shows released one episode per week tend to see greater longevity of reader interest, they also saw more overall readership.

Conversations around the show through episode recaps, previews, predictions, fan response, and more kept readership engaged. Full season drops on the other hand, received high media attention following the release that faded in the following weeks.

Momentum fades after the first season.

Shows in their first season saw higher readership on average. Record-breaking premieres were a huge angle of the media coverage, as well as overall show performance and if there will be another season. Once shows are in their later seasons, they see a decline in readership.

Large volumes of show coverage doesn’t necessarily mean high volumes of watchers or readers.

While some shows seem to have the internet abuzz, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the whole world is watching. Succession, for example, lit up social media and saw an enormous amount of media coverage around its final season.

We analyzed over 1,300 articles on the Succession, and four top-watched TV shows for the year: Chicago Fire, FBI, NCIS, and Young Sheldon. All finales took place within a 30 day period. Succession was covered 6x more often than any other show analyzed in this report but saw the second lowest average readership on that coverage.

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