USA Network Has It Right

Why the way USA runs its network keeps audiences coming back for more and what the other networks should do to follow suit.

USA Network is a newer to the original programming market than many of the others. That leaves the execs at the other networks scratching their heads as to why the network has become so successful. It is not that puzzling, but to flighty executives scared of making mistakes it seems a bit bothersome. Slow and steady wins the race and that is what USA did.

The network has been churning out more and more original content with each passing year. Instead of rushing a bunch of shows that were not ready for market out at the same time, the network simply adds a few new shows each season to a slate of successful shows. There have been a few failures but not many.

Sticking behind the product. The network has always let a show play out. Even the few that have been cancelled, lived out the initial order without being thrown to the wolves. Not only does this work well for the network but it helps build trust with the audience. Viewers are becoming more and more skeptical as shows get yanked off the air. Many people won’t watch first season shows for fear of having it yanked away. What the other stations are ensuring is low ratings for all new shows because no one is willing to invest their time in something that might go away.

Great characters! Yes, it’s a tag line, but the network stays true to it. Each of the shows is built around an interesting cast of characters in a quirky new circumstance. While many of the shows do stand on their own, this network highlights everyone’s flaws. This makes the characters relatable, likeable.

Refusal to compete. USA chose to release in non-prime season. Many called this foolish. Especially attacking summer. What it did is allow for the shows to have an audience hungry for new fare over repeats and it paid off in spades. Now the summer and winter airwaves are ruled by USA.

Network execs at other stations could stand to learn a bit. The most ironic thing about all of this is the fact USA is owned by the failing NBC. How come  no one can take a lesson from the other office? You would think this would translate into NBC success as well. Maybe they are playing the long game like USA did and we just haven’t seen the payoff yet.

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