Lessons From Ted Lasso’s Decline


(By Randy Lane) In the first two seasons, Ted Lasso was a cultural and ratings sensation. It singlehandedly boosted Apple TV’s subscription rate. The show won a ton of Emmys, and the main characters were doing interviews on all the top TV talk and news shows.

This current third season is a different story. The show has lost its buzz and the weekly ratings are typically in the bottom half of the top ten.

Ted Lasso is getting panned by reviewers like USA Today’s Kelly Lawler who thinks the character storylines have become too cartoonish to be believed, there are too many new characters with too much airtime, and the episodes have a general lack of focus. I’m a fan of the show, but I agree with Lawler’s assessment.

There are parallels between shows like Ted Lasso and radio shows that have reached their zenith of success. My friend and talent coach Mike Donovan asks, “Why do shows like Seinfeld and Modern Family get better by continuing to write great character storylines and plots and remain on top while other shows lose their way?” The same question is relevant to successful radio shows.

According to Theodore Levitt in his landmark book The Marketing Imagination, every product and service passes through four marketing life stages. The number three stage is Maturity/Peak, the fourth stage is Decline.

Mike Donovan reminds us, “Once you’ve reached a pinnacle or the top in ratings, the hardest part is staying there.” We have seen many number one rated shows decline for various reasons.

The Randy Lane Company identifies the priorities for remaining the top dog in the Peak stage and preventing decline.

Evolve the characters

  • To remain relevant and entertaining, radio show characters must live active lives and continue to share their life experiences with listeners. Embellishing storylines and characterization sticks with listeners. Be careful to maintain credibility and avoid exaggerating them beyond plausibility.
  • Replace or add a character to the show. New characters must be interesting people and listeners must get to know them before they can care about them. Introduce and establish one new character at a time.

Balance predictability and unpredictability

  • Freshen familiar benchmarks at least annually.
  • Replace features that have run their course with new ones. Add new features while being careful not to build a show that’s all features.
  • Be like Dave! Like McDonald’s McRib, KDWB Minneapolis’ Dave Ryan rests his popular long-running War of the Roses benchmark for a few months every year to keep it from burning out. He brings it back with new episodes.
  • Create new and original content beyond features.

Stay true to your vibe

In the 1990s, Mark & Brian ruled mornings in LA. Like Ted Lasso, they owned the fun, feel-good vibe. Howard Stern entered the market, and Mark & Brian went edgy to blunt Stern’s impact. They lost their successful vibe and lost to Stern.

Be better than ever at planning

  • The last thing you want to do is to slack off on planning. Be sure all brains connected to the show are contributing content and character storylines. Ramp up individual and group planning.
  • Ensure your content filter aligns with your target audience and shows characters.
  • Measure progress or lack of with a scoring system. RLC utilizes a five-point scoring system to measure Content, Execution, and Character progress.

Keep growing and evolving like Seinfeld and Modern Family, then you will decide when it’s time to say goodbye.

Randy Lane is the owner of the Randy Lane Company, which coaches and brands radio and television personalities, business professionals, sports personalities, entrepreneurs, and pop culture artists, helping them master communication skills to have an impact on their audiences. Read Randy’s Radio Ink archives here.


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