With the influx of new technologies, games, HD DVDs, and tech toys, it's becoming more and more challenging for producers to keep audiences tuned in. There isn't a rule book for making a show successful in this cluttered environment. But as Stargate SG-1 gets ready to start its tenth season on July 13, I've come up with the five best ways for a TV show to break through and thrive over the long haul:
1. Get noticed, but don't let it affect your content. Among the biggest concerns producers should anticipate are the challenges of getting noticed. With all the focus on grabbing viewers right away, there's pressure on producers to pack as much sensationalism into a pilot as possible. Nowadays, if you don't have your audience by episode two, you're gone. That isn't necessarily good story-telling. This rush for validation can negatively impact the content of the show and damage the brand you are trying to establish.
2. Synergize the characters and the story. Producers, writers, directors and actors must work together to make a series compelling. We live in an age where the media outlets are constantly evolving. But the simple fact is audiences still want a good story and that will keep them coming back. We can build all the fancy toys we want, but we just can't seem to mass produce story-telling talent.
3. Use creative marketing tactics. A good show helps, but nowadays with channels up the wazoo, the Internet is everywhere and attention spans are getting shorter by the minute. Audiences need to be reminded when and where to find their favorite show. A creative marketing strategy that includes a detailed plan is the only way to get information out and into the viewer's brain.
4. Move forward and be willing to accept change. Once you have a hit show in your hands, instill in your writers the willingness to accept change. This way, they'll avoid burning out or repeating plot lines. Resist the idea of a formula. We bring this thought process to our creative team of Stargate SG-1. After 200 episodes, you can't reset to zero. You have to respect what's come before. At the same time, try not to make each episode overly reliant on the past. Realize characters will change. A fresh take can make each episode different and engaging.
5. Resist restrictions. Encourage creativity. In television, shows live season to season, so don't plan too far in advance. It's best to create intricate serialized stories that will be suitable for long-term growth in the medium. In the end, remember the end user is the viewer and viewers' attention spans depends entirely on what's in front of them at that particular moment. So, make it compelling.