MediaWave Actionable Insights and Industry News for Media Professionals
Programming ideas are based on apps and podcasts

TV Programming Ideas Inspired by Podcasts and Apps

September 28th, 2016   ||    by Todd Wasserman

TV execs looking for programming ideas have always been open creative ideas. A few years ago Fox began developing a show (later a miniseries) based on Carrie Underwood’s song Two Black Cadillacs, notes UNREALITYTV. ABC and CBS have also taken chances on TV shows based on commercial characters and Twitter accounts. It’s not surprising that the industry is now scouring the mobile world for ideas.

In the Works

According to Mediapost, Meredith is planning to premiere Dinner Spinner on the CW network on October 1st, making what it claims is the first TV show based on an app. ABC has also agreed to a “put pilot” (which means if the network doesn’t air it, they will be penalized) for Gimlet Media’s podcast StartUp featuring ZachBraff, CNN announced. That follows Marc Maron’s WTF, a TV show based on his popular podcast that made its debut in 2013.

There may be more to this trend than just a new source of creative inspiration for programming ideas, however. These new shows may also have a built-in audience that can be monetized via TV and mobile.


Though much is made about second-screen viewers who tweet or blog about their favorite shows or events live, there’s also an audience for fans who want to chew over the latest episodes of their favorite shows. Slate and New York Magazine, for instance, both blogged about Mad Men during its eight-season run. The Onion’s A.V. Club has given the same treatment to many shows, including Netflix’s Stranger Things and USA’s Mr. Robot. Many podcasts do the same for TV shows, including Slate’s Culture Gabfest and the Very Good TV podcast.

WTF and StartUp mark the first time the trend has gone the other way. In the case of WTF, the show ran for four seasons and was a fictionalized version of Maron’s life that diverged sharply from the podcast version. Despite the show being critically acclaimed, it wasn’t a ratings hit. According to Adweek, Maron’s podcast, however, gets 5 million downloads a month and has carved out a unique place in popular culture by snagging President Obama as a guest.

While WTF was largely based on Maron’s irascible personality, StartUp could offer more corporate synergy. This summer, Gimlet Media launched its first branded podcast for eBay and is up for similar types of experimentation, noted Adweek. One possibility is that marketers could execute buys on both the podcast and the TV show when it eventually airs. A TV show based on a podcast could also draw younger viewers. A report by Edison Research found that podcast listeners tend to skew young.


App-to-TV may seem like a more unlikely path, but there have already been several shows based on video games—which insinuates a similar ideation process. That said, most apps don’t seem to lend themselves to TV adaptations. (though a game show based on Tinder might be fun.)

In the case of Dinner Spinner, the app has been downloaded by some 18 million fans. The TV show will feature home cooks going head-to-head to create a dinner. Judges will determine a winner. For Meredith, the show is a multimedia coup considering the app originally came out of Allrecipes magazine, which has a rate base of 1.3 million.

The trend of mobile-to-TV seems to have limited possibilities at this stage, but it’s easy to see how future media properties might be conceived to include TV, print, mobile apps, and podcasts as a method of reaching a full array of consumers.

Tags: , , ,