One of the most talked-about television series right now in the United States is the Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul-starrer Breaking Bad. It only has a viewership of 5.9 million viewers, but in the world of television, viewership ratings do not necessarily equate to profitability.
Some of the most profitable shows are those cutting edge non-network television series that attract a small but very vocal and loyal group of followers. Think of Friday Night Lights, a series that had abysmal ratings but which lasted five seasons or Veronica Mars, whose loyal followers have pooled enough money to help fund for a movie version.
Television production companies now make money not just from advertising, but more importantly, from distribution. The company usually charges cable companies for the right to carry its content. The fees are called retransmission fees. While the cable company may try to toughen it out, the cult following of the cutting edge shows are obsessive enough to force the cable company to meet the television company’s demand.
HBO’s revenues have already topped a billion dollars because of the rights to Game of Thrones. Other shows have also helped bring in the money to their companies. Here now is a list of the top 10 most profitable cutting edge TV series in 2013.
10. Boardwalk Empire
The series Boardwalk Empire is a period drama from HBO. It is set during the Prohibition Era and stars Steve Buscemi as Nucky Thompson. The series premiered in 2009 and is now on its fourth season. It has gotten rave reviews from critics for its visual style and emphasis on historical figures. It has won 12 Emmy Awards and the Golden Globe for Best Television Series – Drama.
9. The Walking Dead
The series The Walking Dead is a horror drama from AMC that premiered in 2010. It is based on the comic book series written by Robert Kirkman, Tony Moore and Charlie Adlard. It is about a man who wakes up from a coma to find himself living in a post-apocalyptic world that is dominated by zombies out to eat flesh. The man is on a quest to find his family, and he meets other survivors along the way. The season three finale is considered the most watched drama series telecast in basic cable history.
8. True Blood
The series True Blood is a horror fantasy supernatural drama from HBO. It premiered in 2008 and has gotten mostly positive reviews, as well as recognition from both the Emmy’s and Golden Globes. It is about vampires and humans co-existing in Bon Temps, a small town in northwest Louisiana.
7. House of Cards
The series House of Cards is a political thriller drama from Netflix. Beau Willimon developed it for the American audience, but it was based on a BBC miniseries that took the idea from a Michael Dobbs novel. The entire first season of 13 episodes was made available on Netflix in February 2013. It received nine nominations from the Emmy Awards.
The series Dexter is a crime drama and psychological thriller from Showtime that premiered in 2006. It is about Dexter Morgan, a blood splatter pattern analyst for the Miami Metro Police, who also leads a secret life as a serial killer. It is now on its eighth and final season, and the season premiere became the most watched episode of the series ever with three million viewers.
5. Sons of Anarchy
The series Sons of Anarchy is a crime drama tragedy from FX that premiered in 2008. It is about the lives of a close-knit outlaw motorcycle club based in Charming, a fictional town in California. It has the two highest-rated telecasts in the history of the network. It is now on its sixth and final season.
The series Homeland is a psychological and spy thriller from Showtime. It is based on the Israeli series called Hatufim. It is about a Central Intelligence Officer with bipolar disorder and a Marine Scout sniper who has returned home after being held by the al Qaeda terrorist group. The series has received universal acclaim and has won Best TV Drama series awards from the Emmy and Golden Globe Awards, as well as Outstanding Lead Actor and Lead Actress Awards for its two main characters played by Damian Lewis and Claire Danes. It premiered in 2011 and is now on its third season.
3. Game of Thrones
The series Game of Thrones is a fantasy drama from HBO. It premiered in 2011 and is now on its fourth season. It interweaves several plot lines about the Iron Throne of the Seven Kingdoms. It has morally ambiguous characters and it explores a variety of issues, including social hierarchy, corruption, sexuality, religion, crime and punishment. Despite its controversial nature because of the nudity and violence in the show, the series has been praised by critics and has attracted a loyal following. It has been nominated for Best Drama series in both the Emmy’s and the Golden Globes.
2. Mad Men
The series Mad Men is a period drama from AMC that premiered in 2007. It is about Don Draper, an executive from an advertising agency based in New York in the 1960’s. The series has been widely praised for its historical authenticity, acting, writing, directing, and visual style. It has won four Golden Globes and 15 Emmy’s, including Best Drama from 2008 to 2011. It is already considered as one of the best-written series and greatest dramas of all time.
1. Breaking Bad
The series Breaking Bad is a crime drama and psychological thriller from AMC. It is about Walter White, a high school chemistry teacher who became a methamphetamine cook. The series premiered in 2008 and is in its fifth and final season. It has won eight Emmy’s, including three Best Actor awards for Bryan Cranston and two Best Supporting Actor nods for Aaron Paul. It is considered as one of the greatest dramas of all time, with Guinness World Records awarding it as the highest rated series of all time with a Metacritic score of 99 out of 100.
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