Why Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee Is a Great Content Formula


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It's pretty obvious that Jerry Seinfeld knows what he is doing when it comes to the entertainment business. After Seinfeld wrapped in 1998, there was not much left to do. TV Guide labeled Seinfeld's collaboration with Larry David "The greatest TV show of all time."

So what was next? Instead of a life of exile and rolling around in hundreds of millions of dollars, Seinfeld got married, had three kids, and hit the road again. He was back to being a stand-up comic-the greatest of all storytelling professions in my humble opinion.

Then, he had an epiphany. Seinfeld, at the top of his game, conjured up a new idea 3 years ago. He would take his love of friends, coffee, and cars and meld them together into a show. But was NBC the destination for another "show about nothing"? No. Seeing his wife and kids attached to cellular devices constantly, Seinfeld thought that this show would be perfect for the biggest media market in the world: the internet.

But guess what? No one was biting. Probably similar to the early days of Seinfeld, distribution networks scoffed at the idea that a show like this could work. (Really? You doubt Jerry Seinfeld?) After a long, hard pitch process, the fledgling internet/app network Crackle (a unit of Sony Pictures Television) said, "Ah, what the hell?"

It has been content gold. Show after show comes out, each one funnier than the last. And Seinfeld, who created, directs, and stars in this caffeinated wonder, has followed a very old, wise, and sometimes elusive content formula. Here are the four pillars of what makes Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee work: 

It's consistent-Unlike some of the other internet distribution networks, Crackle releases Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee each week at a certain time. You can set your clock to it. Now, at the tail end of the sixth season, the show releases a preview each Monday, introducing the show's next guest, and drops the full episode on Wednesdays at 11:30 p.m. EST. Consistency in content creation is critical these days. Giving your audience something to look forward to keeps the story going. Similar to SHOWTIME's All-Access and HBO's 24/7 shows, consistency in the story-building process is key.

Entertaining/engaging-Plain and simple, the show is freaking funny. Who doesn't like funny? For content to work, it better be engaging and entertaining or the audience will disappear.  Scare them or make them smile-it doesn't matter. Just make them feel something. Seinfeld's show is happy, whimsical, and funny. It's two people having an enjoyable conversation telling funny stories. That's great content.

Built-in influencers-It's no secret that a great piece of content can be amplified by the appearance of celebrities and influencers. Duh! Sticking a celebrity next to your product is a tried-and-true method of getting people to notice it. Well, Seinfeld happens to be a celebrity, and his friends happen to be celebrities too. This makes for a compelling program when you don't know who will appear next. The most popular TV shows in the world feature celebrities as either scripted stars or unscripted reality show personalities. And the audience cannot get enough. We, as a society, are enamored with celebrity, and Seinfeld knows that.

Storytelling-Stories: Our hearts break for them, and our brains yearn for them. We love stories. We love good fables. Humans want to tell other humans stories. We are seduced by the love story or angered at the unhappy ending. After all, we are all living a story-some are just more interesting than others.

Seinfeld's show weaves great stories into the narrative with ease. Because that's what comedians do: They tell stories.

Lean on these content pillars and you will be headed for resounding success. We are not complicated creatures. For millennia, we have enjoyed the same emotional and psychological triggers. We want to be entertained.