Just another CRAFT site

What Makes Good TV?

by CRAFT | Media / Digital

It’s an oft-asked question in the political space:  What makes good TV?

As a FOX News producer, I was able to sit in on a few meetings with Roger Ailes. He imparted some simple concepts that stayed with me through my experience at FOX News—and I return to them often in my work booking clients on television.

Put simply, Ailes suggested watching TV with the sound off while flipping channels; once you find yourself turning the volume up, you’ve spotted one of the most compelling things on television.

So what makes good TV?

What does it take to get one of my clients to break through, get a call back, and enter the media bloodstream?

Ultimately it seems unquantifiable—but there are a few essential elements that make the difference:

  • An impressive professional background – Anyone who is in a position to make it on TV has spent their career developing an expertise.  News shows are looking for experts who can address the issue of the day.  Use your expertise as a way to illustrate the value that makes a good news segment.
  • Relevance with the current news cycle – News cycles are fleeting.  Every day news is breaking, which sends networks scrambling to find experts who can articulate a position or provide context on why a story is important.  Being relevant also means being ready to apply your expertise as news breaks.
  • The ability to bring a new or original voice to a story – TV is full of talking heads jabbering from the same familiar positions.  These people don’t create buzz or excite viewers.  Standing out and taking a unique position can get reporters and anchors talking.  New facts, new angles, and a unique perspective make viewers pay attention and decision-makers at networks notice.

At the core, these elements are essential to grab the attention of a booker or producer and sometimes work together to make great TV.

During my time in television, these were a few of the factors that often resulted in a successful show—that, and the ability to get the guest to show up on time!

Alex Finland spent nine years working at Fox News Channel, the highest rated cable news channel for over a decade.  He is currently the Director of Media Booking for CRAFT | Media / Digital.  If you have any inquiries about booking or television, you can reach him at afinland@craftdc.com or on Twitter (@afinland).