Can ‘Bates Motel’ Help A&E Break Through in Original Drama?

A&E has never had it easy when it comes to launching and sustaining a dramatic series, but with 'Bates Motel,' the network may have a hit on its hands.

Mar 3, 2014 at 2:13PM

A&E (a joint venture between Disney (NYSE:DIS) and Hearst) has tried to make its mark in the scripted drama world many times over the years, but despite signing top tier talent, it has never been in the cards. Tonight, the network will look to keep up the momentum it gained last year with the launch of Bates Motel, but could still be in for an upward battle.

Bates

(Credit: A&E)

Checking In

Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho remains a standard bearer of the horror/thriller genre. Audiences will never quite get the film's final acts out of their heads as the famed director did something nobody else was able to do at the time. The decision by A&E to do a prequel series to the film was a genius idea and credit goes to executive producers Kerry Ehrin (Friday Night Lights) and Carlton Cuse (Lost) for figuring a way to make it work in the modern day.

The series premiered last year to 3 million viewers and over half of those were from the all-important 18-49 demographic. Those numbers in the demo were enough to make Bates the most watched drama in the network's history and second most watched new drama premiere on cable in 2013 behind History Channel's Vikings.

But can they hold in season 2? Bates isn't the first show to be renewed by the network. Previous record holder Breakout Kings also snared a second season thanks to its strong numbers, but was pulled after its sophomore run.

Bates

(Credit: A&E)

Committed

A&E knows the lure of the Bates Motel name and the Psycho tie-in gives it something special to work with. Producers have also shown they are committed to the drama by expanding the show's cast in season two to help give them more storylines to work with, including introducing Alias star Michael Vartan as a potential love interest for lead actress Vera Farmiga.

Both Farmiga and Freddie Highmore, who play the well-known Norma and Norman Bates characters, are not just standouts on the show, but in the genre. The two give chilling performances every week and Farmiga was nominated for an Emmy last year for Best Actress, a rarity for the network's scripted fare. That ability comes from how close the pair are off-screen as well as on. Farmiga is so close to her TV son that in real life Highmore is actually godfather to Farmiga's oldest child.

Yet the question remains that even with strong performances and reviews, how long can the show go? Ultimately we know what happens to both Norma and Norman.

Bates

(Credit: A&E)

After the fact

In order to help expand the show's lifespan and audience this year, A&E also commissioned a live after-show for the season premiere where the series' cast and crew will discuss the first episode and give clues to what may happen down the road.

Bates is the latest to try the after-show approach, which was made successful by AMC and The Walking Dead. In fact Walking's after-show Talking Dead has actually gotten to be so successful it pulls in numbers that are better than some scripted programming on broadcast TV.

Bates doesn't just represent a new way of storytelling, it represents a real and viable foothold for A&E into the original drama market and the network will rightly do everything in its power to keep it around. Executives have faith in the drama and if audiences show the same loyalty they did back in season one, Bates Motel could keep its doors open for some time to come. It's not a given by any stretch, but it's certainly now finally a real possibility.

More comforting than the Bates Motel

Your long-term financial future doesn't need to be scary. It's no secret that investors tend to be impatient with the market, but the best investment strategy is to buy shares in solid businesses and keep them for the long term. In the special free report "3 Stocks That Will Help You Retire Rich," The Motley Fool shares investment ideas and strategies that could help you build wealth for years to come. Click here to grab your free copy today.

Brett Gold has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Money to your ears - A great FREE investing resource for you

The best way to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as “binge-worthy finance.”

Feb 1, 2016 at 5:03PM

Whether we're in the midst of earnings season or riding out the market's lulls, you want to know the best strategies for your money.

And you'll want to go beyond the hype of screaming TV personalities, fear-mongering ads, and "analysis" from people who might have your email address ... but no track record of success.

In short, you want a voice of reason you can count on.

A 2015 Business Insider article titled, "11 websites to bookmark if you want to get rich," rated The Motley Fool as the #1 place online to get smarter about investing.

And one of the easiest, most enjoyable, most valuable ways to get your regular dose of market and money insights is our suite of free podcasts ... what we like to think of as "binge-worthy finance."

Whether you make it part of your daily commute or you save up and listen to a handful of episodes for your 50-mile bike rides or long soaks in a bubble bath (or both!), the podcasts make sense of your money.

And unlike so many who want to make the subjects of personal finance and investing complicated and scary, our podcasts are clear, insightful, and (yes, it's true) fun.

Our free suite of podcasts

Motley Fool Money features a team of our analysts discussing the week's top business and investing stories, interviews, and an inside look at the stocks on our radar. The show is also heard weekly on dozens of radio stations across the country.

The hosts of Motley Fool Answers challenge the conventional wisdom on life's biggest financial issues to reveal what you really need to know to make smart money moves.

David Gardner, co-founder of The Motley Fool, is among the most respected and trusted sources on investing. And he's the host of Rule Breaker Investing, in which he shares his insights into today's most innovative and disruptive companies ... and how to profit from them.

Market Foolery is our daily look at stocks in the news, as well as the top business and investing stories.

And Industry Focus offers a deeper dive into a specific industry and the stories making headlines. Healthcare, technology, energy, consumer goods, and other industries take turns in the spotlight.

They're all informative, entertaining, and eminently listenable. Rule Breaker Investing and Answers are timeless, so it's worth going back to and listening from the very start; the other three are focused more on today's events, so listen to the most recent first.

All are available for free at www.fool.com/podcasts.

If you're looking for a friendly voice ... with great advice on how to make the most of your money ... from a business with a lengthy track record of success ... in clear, compelling language ... I encourage you to give a listen to our free podcasts.

Head to www.fool.com/podcasts, give them a spin, and you can subscribe there (at iTunes, Stitcher, or our other partners) if you want to receive them regularly.

It's money to your ears.

 


Compare Brokers