Our viewers are a passionate bunch. They love watching TV (more than 11 hours a week of hunt/shoot/fish programming) and they dream of someday being the next Pigman or “All-American Fisherman.”

Those are big shoes to fill.

I receive several emails a week with a variation on the form, “How do I start my own TV show?” or “I filmed my brother/uncle/friend hunting/fishing and I want to get it on air.”

Amazingly enough, NO ONE asks, “What kind of TV show does your network need? What holes need filled?”

If you wanted to open a coffee shop, wouldn’t you conduct research in your chosen market to see if a shop is warranted? You don’t just build a store and hope people will “pop in.” You consider competition, location and what the market will hold. You can be passionate about coffee, but you also need research & science to back it up.

For some reason, when it comes to outdoor TV, all people can think is, “I want to be on TV…I want to be on TV…I want to be on TV.”

My friend, Lisa Metheny, on a pheasant hunt with the TV crew by Mitchell, South Dakota

So…if someone asked me, “Michelle, what type of show would you have on air?” Below is my response:

  1. It wouldn’t be a whitetail show. I think it is easier to say what I “wouldn’t” have in my show versus what I “would” have in the show. Yes, white-tailed deer is the number one search term for hunting on the ‘net and yes, they are the number one big game animal. But that doesn’t mean I also have to create a show on them. There are PLENTY of shows that do a better job than I would anyway.
  2. I would focus on a niche, however. Pigman is uber-popular; Les Johnson in Predator Quest is the “godfather” of predator hunting and now we have four shows on it; people can’t get enough of fly-fishing shows. I see a trend of more niche programs focusing on one species or method alone. General hunting or general fishing is out. Focus on a style of bowhunting; focus on fly-fishing and have the best angler with a fly rod you can find. Do one thing and do it well.
  3. I wouldn’t be the hostess. You need charisma, charm, salesmanship, mad skills aggressiveness and patience to be a host. You need a personality times ten. Find your target audience and match a host with them. Are you targeting family? Then get a husband/wife team like Haley & G.O. Heath. How about those 18-35 year old males? Then Chad Belding or Battle of the Bow crew fit the bill perfectly. Youth? Have a show with kid hosts. Most people who want to be on TV want to be the host. You need to take a step back to review your show’s concept and how you match up.
  4. I would hire the best videographer and editor I could afford. Your cousin that just took that Final Cut workshop won’t be able to produce a TV-quality show. Sorry. This is your main product and you need to spend the majority of your budget on kick-butt graphics and a talented team of videographers and editors.
  5. I like the idea of a “news” format show. Golf Channel started their “Morning Drive” a few months back and I like the format. The guys banter about golf stuff and highlights from the weekend’s tours, but then they have unique guests in studio and they make fun of them. The news combined with laughs combined with wacky “guy talk” makes for a decent show.
  6. If push comes to shove, I’d probably produce a shooting show, or an upland bird show. Both genres don’t have a lot of competition, which means there are untapped sponsors out there. The shooting show might be more female focused; after all, our research shows us women like to watch shooting shows with their guys. The upland bird show would focus more on dog training, upbringing, maintenance as well as skills and tips on shooting.
  7. But I wouldn’t do a strictly competition shooting show. Save that for the Olympics. Unless viewers are vested in the results or the people in the competition, they aren’t interested. That’s why shows that allow for viewer voting in the competition do well. But if it is just based on skills and the competitors aren’t ‘famous,’ forget it.

Do you agree? Disagree? Why? What (or who) do you think is the next generation of outdoor TV programming? What do you think viewers want to see?

9 Comments

  1. Molly on February 8, 2011 at 2:52 pm

    Agree 100%! Except, my show would be “Target Shooting in High Heels.”



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  3. Lisa on February 9, 2011 at 6:38 am

    Excellent advice Michelle!



  4. Michelle on February 9, 2011 at 8:19 am

    Thank you Lisa! Hope you like the pic!



  5. Michelle on February 9, 2011 at 8:20 am

    while wearing pink? And would barbie still be your co-host? I think she has a lot to say



  6. Phillip on February 12, 2011 at 8:04 pm

    Actually, Pigman made the show I’d have made. Of course, I don’t have the personality or resources to do a show so I’m glad he did it.



  7. Chad Ferguson on March 23, 2011 at 8:48 pm

    Regarding a “news” format show check out Barry Stokes Southwest Outdoors Report on Fox Sports Southwest. It is a similar format and Barry does a great job with it.



  8. Willy on January 8, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Outdoor HuntingTV shows are a dime a dozen and all have the same format. Small talk at the start, a few scenes and re-creations, a few false stalks, then the kill shot, some cangratulations, and the end. If I had a show, it would begin with the kill shot, then take it from there. What’s next? I expect I could fill the next 20 minutes with cleaning, caping, packing, processing meat or hide, or what can be done with the meat to support the local community food pantry. Every animal is different, making a series on this format possible. Deer , Elk, Buffalo, Pigs, ets.



  9. Willy on January 9, 2012 at 9:19 am

    Outdoor HuntingTV shows are a dime a dozen and all have the same format. Small talk at the start, a few scenes and re-creations, a few false stalks, then the kill shot, some congratulations, and the end. If I had a show, it would begin with the kill shot, then take it from there. What’s next? I expect I could fill the next 20 minutes with cleaning, caping, packing, processing meat or hide, or what can be done with the meat to support the local community food pantry. Every animal is different, making a series on this format possible. Deer , Elk, Buffalo, Pigs, etc.