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The Biggest TV Successes of 2017 and Why Their Content Was a Hit



There’s a lot to be excited about in the television landscape of 2017. With alternate production houses like Netflix and HBO, television shows have been able to take their content in bold new directions. The result has been something of a second Golden Age of television.

With the New Year just around the corner, it’s about time to look back at some of the 10 best performing television shows of 2017 and delve into the factors that made them click. Did you think binge-watching The Crown was a waste of a weekend? Fear not! There are a lot of ways to be inspired by these shows when planning your own content creation for 2018.

Photograph by Khakimullin via BIGSTOCK

The Crown

Why it works: it has high production value

If you’re making a show about the Queen of England, you need the surroundings to look the part. Netflix’s The Crown is the most expensive show ever made, dropping $130 million to produce the first season. From Claire Foy’s lavish gowns to recreations of Westminster Abbey and Buckingham palace, the show uses high production value to make viewers believe in the story. Your content marketing needs to look just as polished.

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This Is Us

Why it works: it has emotional appeal

This Is Us was 2016’s surprise breakout hit, and one of the most successful shows to air on a traditional network (NBC). The show turns a simple premise about a family into breathtaking art, by weaving different narratives together to tell a story. It gained recognition (and few Golden Globe nominations) by being relatable, honest, and family-oriented. Creative content works best when it resonates with the audience.

Photo: Ron Batzdorff/NBC


The Handmaid’s Tale

Why it works: it has cultural relevance

The release of The Handmaid’s Tale was timed unintentionally with a political and cultural landscape where the discussion of women’s rights took centre stage. The Handmaid’s Tale is charged with timely themes and contributes to a discussion that’s already present by introducing new ideas. While you may not necessarily want to delve into politics with your content in 2018, you do want to find yourself inside the conversation of your target audience.

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Big Little Lies

Why it works: it’s well written

This seven part miniseries is an HBO hit with big name stars like Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman and Shailene Woodley. Viewers may relax into thinking it’s a lighthearted comedy about motherhood, but sinister murder and lies lurk just around the next plot twist. Big Little Lies performed so well because of it’s incredible performances, and rich storytelling that keeps viewers tied to the show with wit, intrigue and moments of poignancy. It’s no secret that the backbone of any content marketing is it’s writing. Make sure yours can hold up!

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Game of Thrones

Why it works: it’s detail-oriented

HBO’s Game of Thrones may almost be in its final season, but it continues to be a blockbuster hit, and a touchstone of 2017 popular culture. It’s unusual for a fantasy series to commands such widespread appeal, but Game of Thrones is beloved for the depth of its characters, the scope of its story, and the complexity involved in bringing the fictional land of Westeros to life. For Game of Thrones to work, every detail needs to be believable; your marketing strategy should be no different.

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The Good Place

Why it works: it’s original

NBC’s The Good Place has a plot that most people were apprehensive about: Kristen Bell’s Eleanor Shellstrop wakes up in the afterlife, and realizes she was sent there by mistake. In order to stick around, she must conceal some of her earthly imperfect behaviour and try to be a better person. Although it seems an odd premise, it was praised for being quirky, humorous and very clever; something that the very best content strategists aim for.

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The Deuce

Why it works: it’s realistic

This gritty HBO show features the rise of the porn industry in New York’s 1970’s. This show may be for a more select and mature audience, but it caters to them with precision, delivering believability and realism. When it comes to your content, make sure that it’s believable and authentic; people know when they’re being misled.

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Why it works: it reinvents an old formula

Godless was an end-of-the-year release on Netflix, with Downton Abbey’s Michelle Dockery staring as a gun-toting rancher. Godless was hailed as a feminist Western, by taking long-beloved aspects of the Hollywood Western and updating them for a modern audience, centring the plot on a town comprised entirely of women. When looking at your own content marketing strategy, you need to find ways to take a tried-and-true formula, and make it your own.

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Stranger Things 2

Why it works: it’s nostalgic

Stranger Things was an instant Netflix classic that returned in 2017 for a second installment. Playing off genre tropes of 1980s sci-fi, it played off nostalgia while introducing audiences to an instantly beloved cast of child stars. Creative content that plays off nostalgia has been a proven winner, no matter what medium.

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Twin Peaks

Why it works: it embraces weird

Twin Peaks was a show first produced in 1990 that was brought back this year for a revival series. The show follows a similar formula as a crime drama, but it gained its cult following from it’s supernatural elements, cheeky melodrama, and use of horror tropes. By embracing the ‘weird’, the show managed to stand out from the crowd. You can too!

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Feeling inspired about your own content creation? Iris Content can help get you started. Start 2018 off right with a content marketing strategy that can stand out against competitors.

Annie Ianko

Chief Content Officer

Annie has 20 years of experience as an editor and content creator and manager. With work in television and written media, she has dedicated her past 10 years to learning the ropes of online content creation, from writing to editing, from SEO to content management.

If you need a professional to handle all your content during the hectic festive season, Iris Content is launching a few holiday packages that you can take advantage of. Reach out to us and we will help your business shine this holiday season!

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