What Makes Good TV? Anatomy of a Television Series

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What elements make for a successful series in today’s ultra-competitive and diverse TV market? Using E-Score Programs, we grouped top tier programs from the drama, comedy, and reality/competition genres for creators to identify what the commonalities and unique differences drive audience appeal.

The sheer number of programs and delivery services available today present great opportunities and challenges to the advertising community as well. For agencies, these same program elements aid in finding the ideal environment you desire for positioning your products and services.

What Attributes Do Top Dramas, Comedies, and Reality/Competition Programs Share?

Successful programs, regardless of genre, often excel in specific areas. In looking at key elements that make up the secret sauce of a successful program, the following 9 attributes are common among the top dramas, comedies, and reality/competition programs.

  • The Mandalorian is one of today’s hottest TV programs that kicked off a number of Star Wars series for Disney +. It ranks highest in Engaging and Look Forward to Watch, showing that you need more than being a part of a highly successful franchise to be a hit TV show.
  • Rick and Morty is the only animated TV series to rank at the top for not just one, but two key shared attributes. The show’s humor and originality have landed it in the top spot for Clever and Unique as it prepares to launch it’s sixth season. 

What Key Attributes Are Unique to Top Tier Programs for Specific Genres?

While some key attributes are common across all three genres, others are specific to certain genres. Using E-Score Programs, we looked at key attributes that are unique to one or two genres and which top program scores the highest.

  • Comedy and Reality/Competition share a lot of their top attributes (Easy to Join, Family Friendly, Funny) with each other uncovering a close relationship between the elements that make a successful comedy and a successful reality/competition program. 
  • One of the crucial elements of a successful comedy is having Relatable Characters and Issa Rae’s Insecure on HBO leads all comedies in that specific attribute. 
  • Audiences enjoy dramas and comedies that rank highly in Intelligent. Doctor Who and Rick and Morty lead their respective genres as the top-ranking Intelligent program. 

What Makes a Successful Drama Series?

Using E-Score Programs we identified the strongest performing elements that we use to answer why top tier drama programs such as This Is Us, Better Call Saul, Succession, Ozark, The Crown, The Handmaid’s Tale and others are working. All those programs and others score high in these “must have” ratings and attributes. 

To illustrate how a program can compare their own metrics to other successful shows in the same genre, we used Netflix’s Squid Games as an example. 

  • Korean hit drama, Squid Game, found mass success among American audiences amidst a trend of adaptations, spinoffs, and reboots thanks to above average scores in all ten key attributes, showing that it possessed all the elements of a hit drama series.
  • Scoring highly in Will Recommend Show likely had a direct impact on Awareness, where the show excelled way beyond other successful streaming dramas. 
  • Among the program’s key elements, it scored ten points above the top drama average and other top streaming dramas in Idea for Program, which points to the show’s unique and original premise and highlights how audiences still value original ideas for TV shows. 

What Makes a Successful Comedy Series?

Using the same methodology above, we looked at successful comedy programs to illustrate how a series can compare their own metrics to other successful shows. We used Apple TV+’s Ted Lasso as an example. 

  • Ted Lasso is Apple TV+’s biggest success yet with 7 Emmy wins and 20 nominations. The hit comedy excels in key attributes such as Funny, Keeps Attention, Look Forward to Watch, One of My Favorites, and Relatable Characters.
  • Ted Lasso also excels in all key elements including Program Characters, Program Relationships, and Program Storylines, surpassing both top streaming comedies and the comedy average.

Making E-Score Programs Even Better!

Already a powerful and vital program measurement system, we are constantly upgrading and improving our E-Score products to reflect the dynamic changes in the industry. Below are updates that are coming in September to E-Score Programs Cable/Streaming.

  • New Attributes
    • A show I can’t miss
    • Makes me feel good
    • High-Quality
    • A program I binge-watch
    • Has good buzz (people are talking about it)
  • Fandom: How passionate are viewers about this show? 11-point scale from ‘Huge Fan’ to ‘Definitely Not a Fan’
  • Program Buzz/Recommendation: How likely are viewers to recommend the show to others? 11-point scale from ‘Very Likely’ to ‘Not at All Likely’
  • Viewer Profiles: Psychographic and Viewing Habit Statements

E-Score Programs tells the story ratings can’t. Creators and agencies use it to measure the engagement and emotional connection that gives them a better understanding of why viewers are watching a show. 

Within our overall E-Score Platform, you can also get trends, endorsement scores, social media buzz, NPS, fan scores and much more based on the product. When E-Score products are paired, advertisers, brands and the creative community can fine tune their content and campaigns.

We offer a number of options for you to choose from. You can subscribe to a single product, purchase an E-Score individually, or take advantage of our NEW E-Score Platform tiers below.

Your suite platform includes the E-Score products below which are designed to work harmoniously to provide the answers marketing, network and advertising executives rely on.

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