With the fall television season well behind us and the bulk of winter premieres happening this week or next, we took a deeper look into an emerging trend in scripted TV dramas. Over the past decade, some of the most successful dramas have been dark and disturbing, and managed to keep viewers on the edge of their seats. However, the most recent season of network television appeared to focus on a different kind of emotional escape from today’s politicized atmosphere: inspirational dramas.
2018 » a year for inspirational dramas on broadcast nets
Magid’s EmotionalDNA® captures and quantifies viewers’ emotional connections to the shows they watch. Now that we have data from respondents’ reactions to the fall season, we can see that of the top 10 most inspiring dramas on broadcast nets, five of them premiered this season. In fact, eight of them debuted in 2016 or later.
It’s worth noting we looked through past sets of data, and there is nothing to indicate that viewers are more likely to be inspired by newly launched shows. In fact, on basic cable some of the most inspiring dramas are older syndicated shows.
These inspiring broadcast shows are proving to be real contenders for viewership as well. At a time of year when football dominates primetime viewership, three of them (God Friended Me, This Is Us, Chicago Med) regularly appeared in the top 20 programs each week for the October 1-December 2, 2018 period according to Nielsen data.
In the most recent six months of EmotionalDNA data, 232 dramas were rated yet only 18 shows appeared in the 80thpercentile or above for having inspirational elements.
Finding white space—especially white space that reflects the emotional tenor audiences are looking for is no easy feat. Fortunately, it often translates to better recognition in the form of viewership and/or awards. Broadcast and basic cable nets are leading the way with programs like This Is Us and Killing Eve being recognized across a variety of categories. Both will need to keep their finger on the pulse of where emotions go next, a challenge which can be illustrated by early award season nominations for Amazon’s Homecoming.
Last year, Magid presented alongside NBC Universal at the Advertising Research Foundation’s AUDIENCExSCIENCE event on findings of significant lift when advertisements were emotionally congruent with the programming in which the ads appeared. Emotional similarity matters – and advertisers and brands should take note that broadcast audiences are looking to be inspired.