These days TV success is about "becoming" more than a TV show. It isn't extra money anymore; this tactic is now essential.
"American Idol" is much more than a TV show. It's about all the marketing -- record deals, games, digital media, and iPhone apps. The TV show is just the creative starting point.
Elizabeth Murdoch, chairwoman/chief executive of Shine Group, an independent production company, was fairly blunt in talking to attendees at NATPE recently: "We must end our traditional, one-dimensional attitude," she said.
For example, Shine's "Biggest Loser" show is more about the many Wii exercise games, diet plans, fitness equipment, and a host of other things.
For years, having a profitable show just meant big aftermarket syndication or major international sales. For Bill Cosby, Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David, the U.S. syndication aftermarket typically meant a $400 million immediate payday for selling off just one cycle of their shows. They'd go to the NATPE convention in January, shake a few hands, and come back very wealthy.
That kind of TV marketplace is pretty much outdated. The new one is about all things socially connected. Murdoch says all TV shows need to embrace social media, getting people engaged and talking about creative content. Actually she says this will be mandatory very soon.
Problem is, you still need the core to work before any of the rest happens. Develop good story lines -- whether it's "Glee," "Chuck," "The Mentalist," "WWE Smackdown," or "Jersey Shore."
TV network development executives always want more than one script of a new show; they ask for several to see where characters and stories are going.
But TV producers should also take the next step. In addition to writers, directors, actors, and line producers, TV executives should add more one hire to their staffs: an entrepreneurial brand manager.