Will YA Television Ever Have Its 'Hunger Games'?

Jan 20 2014, 9:23am CST | by

The Hunger Games did a lot for the way executives think about YA adaptation, mainly in terms of audience potential. Unlike the Twilight series, which while achieving similar financial success was met with a less than stellar reception from non-fans, the Jennifer Lawerance starring franchise has broken out to become a worldwide phenomenon that plays across all demographics. In a New York Times box-office report from November, Brooks Barnes reported the demographic split between female and male viewers of Catching Fire to be 60/40, a split which, according to Barnes, is much more even than that of the first film which was 71/29. It’s because of these numbers that studios have been buying up every YA property under the sun, ultimately to be met with mixed results. But there’s a new factor making its way into the YA equation that could change everything: television

Book adaptations are nothing new for the small screen; in fact some of the most recent examples of successful series are just that: Game of Thrones, True Blood, Dexter, Rizzoli & Isles, Justified, all novel adaptations, but none are YA. For the only recent success story on that front we must head to the dark horse of broadcast television: The CW. The Vampire Diaries is a ratings success… for that network. The series has consistently averaged 2-3 million viewers in overall audience and often scores above a 1.0 in its key demographic of women 18-49. But that’s it when it comes to successful YA television. Other series such as The Secret Circle and The Carrie Diaries (both CW properties) haven’t seen nearly the same level of success, the former never making it past season one. But this hasn’t stopped networks from putting YA inspired series into development.

Later this year, The CW will premiere another YA series, The 100, based on the Kass Morgan novel of the same name. In addition, MTV recently acquired the rights to YA series Shannara, and has lined up Iron Man director Jon Favreau to helm the pilot. Regardless of what the future holds for either of these properties, a question needs to be raised: can television have its own Hunger Games? Can it have a series that breaks out of the audience demographics assigned to it and become a sensation? Based on current evidence of similarly themed adult series, it’s possible, but won’t come easy.

In many ways, Game of Thrones is the perfect series to look at when contemplating this question. The show is a highly mature, adult drama that at first glance appears like Lord of The Rings: The Series. But from the premiere episode, it became clear this wasn’t your typical medieval fantasy. Source material strength aside, it delivered on the same level of writing quality and character development audiences have come to expect from HBO. Very quickly, Game of Thrones went out of its way to not play to its base, but to those who required convincing. With clever, must-see cliffhangers (like Jaime pushing Bran out of a window at the end of the pilot) and shocking twists (see Red Wedding), audiences not normally drawn to the fantasy genre were sucked in, in the same way they were to films like The Lord of The Rings.

What makes adaptation of any kind hard is, among other things, knowing the audience you’re playing too. For The CW, all that matters is the 18-49 demographic, thus it designs its programs to play to that. It’s painfully clear sometimes how much the network chooses to skew young, so much so that when it doesn’t on series like Arrow, Nikita and Supernatural, it’s considered a refreshing change of pace. It’s that mode of thinking, that desire to grab the 18-49 demo that’s preventing television from having its breakout YA hit. Ad-supported networks have no choice but to play to the audiences that allow them to turn a profit. It’s also for that very same reason HBO was able to breakout with series like Game of Thrones and True Blood. By not forcing these adaptations to fit a mold that plays to demos or fan base demands, they usually succeed on a broad scale, much like The Hunger Games.

When asked if there could be a Hunger Games  like success on television, Movies.com YA columnist Perri Nemirroff responded “Absolutely,” adding, “I just don’t think it’ll happen on The CW or ABC Family where the large majority of the viewership is already comprised of that target audience. Should, let’s say, HBO pick up a YA novel and choose to adapt it, it’s got the network’s built-in audience, but then will also add fans of the book and viewers within the YA age range. Readers dedicated to a YA property will follow the material anywhere. More than anything, breaking out of the target audience will come down to when and where it airs and the viewership that’s already associated with those slots. But of course the quality of the show would dictate how long that winds up lasting.”

YA’s a powerful thing, and if done right, it can beat the odds and become a cultural phenomenon. But that kind of success has always been relegated to the world of film. The business of television has never truly allowed YA adaptation to succeed because of forced audience classification from networks like The CW and MTV. Could The 100 or Shannara answer the call and become the next breakout franchise? It’s not impossible, but nothing in Hollywood’s ever for sure, so that’s not saying much. What’s clear is past failures point to a required shakeup in the development process for anything YA to truly succeed on the small screen, for it might just be the key that blows open the doors of YA television.

Source: Forbes Business

 
 

Don't miss ...

 

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/30" rel="author">Forbes</a>
Forbes is among the most trusted resources for the world's business and investment leaders, providing them the uncompromising commentary, concise analysis, relevant tools and real-time reporting they need to succeed at work, profit from investing and have fun with the rewards of winning.

 

blog comments powered by Disqus

Latest stories

3 Steps To Landing A Web Designer Internship
As a web designer myself, I can relate to young web designers who are just starting out and looking for a way to get their foot in the door. It’s very hard to start because many companies are looking for experienced...
 
 
4 Dow Stocks Under Accumulation
The choppy nature of the 1st quarter is not surprising after the action in 2013. The sharp declines in the Nasdaq 100 and biotechnology stocks have caused some technical damage that would normally take time to repair....
 
 
Bank Deposits, Structuring, and Asset Forfeitures
This is a version of an article originally published in the Winter 2014 issue of the White Collar Crime Committee Newsletter, Criminal Justice Section, American Bar Association.  For the original article, including full...
 
 
Is Big Data A Potential Distraction?
Over recent months, I’ve read numerous articles that have reported that many executives are struggling with ‘Big Data’. In fact, many studies report that upwards of 50-60% of executives say that their firms are weak or...
 
 
 

Latest from the Network

VW banks on China to reach part of its 2018 goal this year - CEO
Strong sales growth in China will help Germany’s Volkswagen AG clinch its sales target of 10 million vehicles annually well ahead of 2018, the current objective, VW Chief Executive Martin Winterkorn said at the start of...
Read more on Auto Balla
 
3 Steps To Landing A Web Designer Internship
As a web designer myself, I can relate to young web designers who are just starting out and looking for a way to get their foot in the door. It’s very hard to start because many companies are looking for experienced...
Read more on Business Balla
 
4 Dow Stocks Under Accumulation
The choppy nature of the 1st quarter is not surprising after the action in 2013. The sharp declines in the Nasdaq 100 and biotechnology stocks have caused some technical damage that would normally take time to repair....
Read more on Business Balla
 
Bank Deposits, Structuring, and Asset Forfeitures
This is a version of an article originally published in the Winter 2014 issue of the White Collar Crime Committee Newsletter, Criminal Justice Section, American Bar Association.  For the original article, including full...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Is Big Data A Potential Distraction?
Over recent months, I’ve read numerous articles that have reported that many executives are struggling with ‘Big Data’. In fact, many studies report that upwards of 50-60% of executives say that their firms are weak or...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Does Doing Good In Business Imply Doing Less Well?
Many entrepreneurs still don’t understand that building a business culture today of doing good, like helping people (society) and planet (sustainability), is also a key to maximizing profit. Employees and customers...
Read more on Business Balla
 
Melissa Joan Hart: Celebrity pressure is gym motivation
Melissa Joan Hart admits the pressure of being a celebrity encourages her to go to the gym. The 38-year-old actress - who gained 60lbs while pregnant with her third child in 2012 - recently lost a dramatic 40lbs and...
Read more on Celebrity Balla
 
iPad Sales Predicted to Decrease in Q2 2014
The iPad might be unable to generate a blockbuster sale in the second quarter of 2014, as a new report claims that the device might experience a declined sale in the specific period.The report has been published by...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
New Photos Reveal the iPad Air 2 with Integrated Front Panel and Display
The next model of iPad Air might get a thinner shape, as a number of photos reveal that the device will include its front panel integrated with the display, rather than being separated.The photos have been unveiled by...
Read more on Apple Balla
 
Pebble Is Winning The Wearables War and What That Means For The iWatch
Some suggestive data indicates that the Pebble smartwatch, which sold 400,000 units in 2013, has the most staying power of the first batch of consumer wearables. null Want a clear indication that what these numbers show...
Read more on Business Balla
 
 
Auto Balla Sexy Balla Sport Balla TV Balla Politics Balla Movie Balla Apple Balla Business Balla Ad Balla Celebrity Balla