For those of us with little reason to watch government-subsidized public broadcasting, Downton Abbey is akin to the soap opera Days of Our Lives only it airs once a week and is set in England during the early 1900’s.
While I’ve never watched a single episode of the show, I do know success when I see it. Whether it’s CSI, Law & Order or Grey’s Anatomy – the best network shows have spin-off programs to extend the success cycle, brand and reach.
It’s time for Downton Abbey to do the same while its popularity continues to climb.
However, since most government-funded, socialized television networks tend to be staffed with weak marketeers, I’d like to offer some suggestions to help PBS capitalize on the success of its award-winning drama.
Here are 7 Possible Downton Abbey Spin-offs to extend the reach and appeal of the show:
1. Downton Flabbey: NBC’s “Biggest Loser” franchise partners with PBS for a UK-version set in the early 20th century when Yorkshire pudding and mutton were considered health foods.
2. Downton 5-minute-Abs-ey: a direct-to-video offering that caters to health conscious consumers who prefer a more formal exercise regimen complete with parlor music, collar pins and corsets.
3. Downton Jabbey: a UFC collaboration that pits the Crawleys versus the Staff in a mixed martial arts battle royale – the Octagon would be refurbished with rich mahogany and crushed velvet.
4. Downton Zombie: the tough to reach Millennial demo would eat up actress Maggie Smith as zombie Countess, Violet Crawley – it worked for “Pride and Prejudice,” right???
5. Downton Abbie Hoffman: injecting the flag-wearing, pot-smoking, draft-card burning 1960s activist and youth culture icon into the period show would resonate with the affluent liberal-leaning Babyboomer demographic that PBS covets.
6. Downton Crabbey-Patty: an animated series with Nickelodeon that replaces the regular Downton Abbey staff with everyone’s favorite invertebrae – SpongeBob Squarepants to attract the desirable pre-teen viewer.
7. Downton Stabbey: this could work as a big-screen slasher series that has a premiere every Halloween to replace the tired “Saw” and “Friday the 13th” stalwarts, appealing to college agers.
Question: What other possible spin-offs are PBS socialists not seeing?
[Editor’s Note: of course they’re not socialists I’m merely poking fun at a seemingly “necessary” government subsidy during these tough economic times – btw, why are those taxpayer dollars sent to England to produce the show there?]
Tor Constantino is a former journalist, bestselling author and current PR guy who lives near Washington, DC. He has worked for Fortune 500 companies, CBS Radio, Clear Channel Radio, ABC-TV and CBS-TV affiliates. He has authored his first non-fiction book “A Question of Faith” and he blogs regularly at The Daily ReTORt.