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Starting a TV Talk Show Business – A Complete Guide

Do you want to start a television talk show business? If YES, here is a complete guide to starting a talk show business with NO money and no experience.

Okay, so we have provided you an in-depth sample talk show business plan template. We also took it further by analyzing and drafting a sample talk show marketing plan backed up by actionable guerrilla marketing ideas for talk show businesses. In this article, we will be considering all the requirements for starting a talk show business. So put on your entrepreneurial hat and let’s proceed.

Why Start a Talk Show Business?

The television and radio industry cum media and entertainment industry is a fiercely competitive industry that requires a lot of work and commitment before one can get noticed. However, with the advent of the internet as well as technology, it is quite easy to get into this industry.

Therefore, if you have a passion for the talk show business, then starting one might not be as hard as you think. The first thing you need to come up with is a compelling premise that will form the basis of your talk show. You can base your premise on shows that you admire.

You should be aware that the talk show market is at its saturation point, (there are enough talk shows on air and others waiting to be aired than there are available spots to air them), which then means that you might almost never get noticed by your target market. However, you can beat this by ensuring that you conduct the necessary research about the segment you intend to base your talk show on and then start your program off regionally or locally before going national.

The advent of technology as well as the internet where platforms such as YouTube, Vimeo and Vlogs exist has made it easy for those who want to start a talk show but do not have the means to start this show. The cost of running your talk show online is far cheaper than approaching a real studio for a spot to air your program.

On the internet, you have to deal with little or no bureaucracies and with the right marketing and publicity strategies, you can pull in the audience you need for your talk show; and since advertisers want to go where the audience is, it will be fairly easy for you to get them to advertise on your page.

Writing a business plan is very important even if you want to approach a station or intend to run your talk show online. Even though you might not need experience to start a talk show business of your own, you will need to work with those that have experience in the industry so that you can run a business that is according to standards that stakeholders in the industry will want to affiliate themselves with. If you need further facts about the talk show business you intend to start, then this article is sure to help you with that.

Starting a Talk Show Business – A Complete Guide

  • Industry Overview

The number of programs in the television industry has risen as there are now more channels to broadcast them especially with the availability of the internet which has allowed online streaming to rise significantly. The advent of the internet has created an opportunity for content creators and also allowed producers in the television industry to make content more available to the audience according to demand.

According to IBISWorld, the television production industry is at its growth stage and the industry’s contribution to the overall economy of the United States of America is expected to grow at an average annual rate of 10 years between 2011 and 2021. The (Gross Domestic Product) GDP of the industry is also expected to grow at an annual rate of 2.1 percent during this period, which then means that the industry is growing as a share of the United States’ economy.

Even though there were less than 7,000 television sets in the United States of America as at 1945, almost every American household now has a television, with most households having more than two or three television sets. This has allowed the number of networks and channels to grow; however, this has also led to stiff competition in the industry as channels jostle for the attention of the audience. Most opportunities in this industry are usually in New York and Los Angeles as these are where the major networks are situated.

The leading platform is radio which has over 93 percent of listeners, with higher rating than TV viewership which stands at 85 percent. More than 265 million Americans listen to the radio each week; out of this number, 66 million millennial listen to radio at least weekly.

However, the majority of people who listen to radio are those who are employed. Radio stations that are of talk show format have an 11 percent share of listeners who are amongst the age group of 12 years and above.

The viewing pattern by consumers as well as how advertisers spend is dependent on demand. Individual companies usually make profit depending on how effective their marketing is. Companies that are large scale in nature usually have advantages in terms of financing and especially distribution.

Other areas where they have influence include creative and technical talent, popular directors as well as multiple-year contracts. Small companies on the other hand in order to successfully compete usually focus their energy on creating special topics or niche areas.

Most of the products or services usually offered by companies in this industry usually include commercials, TV programs and related products. Talk shows which are a production type are largely unscripted, with only a few being scripted.

Companies in this industry include those who produce and distribute television programs, commercials and or videos. Most of the major companies in the United States of America include media conglomerates like Disney, CBS, Time Warner, NBC Universal and Twenty First Century Fox.

Starting a Talk Show Business – Market Research and Feasibility Studies

  • Demographics and Psychographics

The demographic and psychographic composition of the audience that listen to or watch talk shows is not restricted to certain people as it has been found that the people who listen to radio talk shows most are those that are employed. The advent of technology and the internet has made it easy for people to be able to record their favorite talk shows or listen or watch it online.

Therefore, there are no defining demographics for a talk show business as people from ages 12 upwards are audiences for a talk show.

List of Niche ideas Within the Talk Show Business That You Can Specialize in

Talk shows now use any form of medium to be broadcast to its audience, such as audio (radio – traditional radio stations and online radio) and visual (traditional television stations and video sites). This has helped to increase the number of audience especially as there has been an increase in those who own smart phones and can stream content anytime.

The increase in the number of participants in this field is one of the major challenges in this industry as players have to use niches in order to stand out in the industry. There are several talk show niches and if you are just starting out, below are niches where you can choose from to be able to run your talk show business;

  • Political talk shows
  • Comedy talk shows
  • Socio-political talk shows
  • Sports inclined talk shows
  • Business talk shows
  • Financial talk shows
  • Late night talk shows
  • Entertainment talk shows
  • Games talk shows

The Level of Competition in a Talk Show Industry

Initially the level of competition in the talk show industry cum media and entertainment industry was dependent on location, however, this is no longer the case as cable television and the internet has made it easy for one to compete effectively from any part of the world.

When competing for audience in this industry, distance is no longer seen as a barrier especially when it comes to the international audience as what most audience seek are talk shows that are not only informative, educative, enlightening and/or entertaining but one that they are able to identify with, which is why most people go ahead to tape their favorite shows or ensure that they go online to stream or download their favorite talk shows.

There are several talk shows in syndicated television stations, regional and local stations as well as on the internet scattered all over the United States of America. So, if you are looking to start your own talk show, you should be aware that you would meet with several stiff competitions not only from talk shows in the United States of America but also globally as well. It should also be noted that syndicated stations set and determine the trend in the industry.

List of Well-Known Brands in the Talk Show Industry

Just like any other industry, the talk show industry has brands that have been of great performance and are regarded as audience favorites. While some of these brands have been in the industry for a while, some are best known for their unique and creative programs.

Therefore some of the leading talk shows in the United States of America as well as globally are;

  • The Oprah Winfrey Show
  • The Jerry Springer Show
  • The Steve Wilkos Show
  • The Rachel Show
  • Steve Harvey
  • The Dr. Oz Show
  • Live! With Kelly and Michael
  • The Ellen DeGeneres Show
  • Phil

Economic Analysis

The industry is one that has had challenges from digitalization especially with the improvement of technology. This has started affecting content and all other forms in the television and radio cum media and entertainment industry. However, leaders in this industry understand what is at stake and are willing to lobby, enforce and engage in litigation and enforcement in order to remain proactive and still generate the needed revenue for the industry.

Affiliate fees are the primary revenue stream especially for the television industry. These fees are the subscription fee that is paid to the satellite operator or cable which is then split to the content owner on a per subscriber basis. It should be noted that these fees are negotiated based on the popularity of a show. Therefore, talk shows that are very popular in nature will be able to negotiate for higher subscription fees than those that are less notable.

Most cable television stations are set up to maximize profit by utilizing these affiliate fees. Therefore owners of cable stations usually develop one or two hit programs and then fill the rest of the lineup with contents that are not considered expensive. These hit programs would make it compulsory for satellite carriers to want your programs, therefore leading you to ask for fees. An instance is The Oprah Winfrey Show.

Even though the internet should make it more easy as regards these affiliate fees, it still doesn’t work that way especially as most content owners prefer to be in a number of channels so as to receive affiliate fees. Even though cables that have attempted to use the internet in order to get to more of its audience have had to use a subscription model in order to still be able to generate revenue and be in business instead of dying off.

Starting your Talk Show Business from Scratch vs Buying a Franchise

The talk show business is not one that operates on a franchise kind of system. Talk show hosts that are national are those that join a network that is national or ones that create their shows online so as to get to more of the audience than they would if they were using a local television or radio station.

Every talk show is started from the scratch and requires hard work and commitment to make it work especially as there are likely to be a lot of hiccups as regards production, getting materials and many other factors. However, starting your talk show business from the scratch is one way to quickly understand the business especially if you do not have the required industry experience before starting the business. Being independent will mean you are in charge of making important decisions for your talk show and can change strategies when those in use aren’t working.

Possible Threats and Challenges You Will Face When Starting a Talk Show Business

Every business no matter what kind faces threats and challenges and your talk show is no different. If you are therefore going to start your own talk show business, one of the challenges you are likely to face is competing with already established and similar talk shows that already have an audience. The best way to overcome this challenge is to ensure you stand out by offering something unique.

Some of the other threats and challenges that you are likely to face running your talk show business in the United States of America are constant changing trends in the industry, the start of a talk show similar to your concept and lack of funding for your talk show. While you can hardly do anything about the threats and challenges you are likely to face, you can ensure that you do not fall to them.

Starting a Talk Show Business – Legal Matters

  • Best legal entity to use for this type of business

In starting any business, one of the most important decisions you would need to make is what legal entity would best suit your business. Why this is important is due to the fact that whatever legal entity you choose for your business will have an impact on how much you get to pay as taxes, how much paperwork you will have to deal with, your ability to raise money, as well as any liability that you might face during the course of running the business.

There are four types of legal entities available to any business in the United States of America and they are sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation and Limited Liability Company (LLC). The sole proprietorship kind of legal entity is one that is very easy to set up as the owner is in complete control of all the aspects of the business.

The partnership kind of legal entity is one that involves two or more people agreeing to start a business and share in whatever profits or losses. A corporation is a legal entity that is formed to be different from those who founded it. The corporation is recognized by law to be a separate entity that can be held liable for its actions and also be taxed as well.

The Limited Liability Company (LLC) is a form of legal entity that has the benefits of a partnership and corporation. This means that while owners cannot be personally held liable for any debts incurred by the business like in the corporation, the profits and losses are passed to the owners, which means that they are taxed personally just like in the partnership kind of legal entity.

Most businesses in this industry usually choose either a corporation or an LLC depending on several factors such as taxation, flexibility, cost of formation and continual administration, legal liability and futuristic goals of the talk show. Talking with an attorney will help sort out what issues you might need to clarify.

Catchy Business Name Ideas Suitable for a Talk Show Business

Having a great idea for your talk show is all good but without having a great name that is not only unique and creative but also memorable as well, you might not have the right number of audience for your talk show. However, while your name should be unique, it shouldn’t be difficult to pronounce as well.

If you are therefore considering starting your own talk show business, here are some catchy names that you can choose from;

  • O’Leary Talk Show
  • Tiffany’s Show
  • The Singles Talk Show
  • Michael Sullivan’s Show
  • John Stalker Late Night Show
  • Mirabel’s Morning Show

Insurance Policies

Every business in the United States requires insurance policies and the laws in the country have made it mandatory. The reason why an insurance policy is important is so that you do not keep paying from your pocket when damages happen while on set. Setting aside a budget for insurance is the wisest thing to do.

If you are however not sure of the right insurance policies that you should go for, then you might need to seek the services of an insurance agent or broker to help you choose the most appropriate insurance policies for your talk show business.

Below are some of the basic insurance policies that you should consider purchasing if you intend to start your own talk show business in the United States of America;

  • General Insurance
  • Liability Insurance
  • Health Insurance
  • Auto Insurance
  • Property Insurance
  • Workers’ Compensation Insurance
  • Errors and Omission Insurance
  • Employment Practices Liability Insurance
  • Business Owner policy Group Insurance

Intellectual Property Protection/Trademark

Applying for intellectual property for a talk show is not as cut and dried as it should be because while there are original contents, it is allowed for others to take part of an original show and adapt it without it being termed copying. Therefore it is not necessary to apply for an intellectual property protection for your talk show business.

Some entrepreneurs in this industry however usually apply for an intellectual property protection for their name, logo and certain production materials but this is as far as they go. If this is what you want, you might need to approach an attorney to help you out.

Is Professional Certification Needed to Run a Talk Show Business?

To be able to host a talk show does not require any form of special qualifications, however there are those who seek out qualifications, such as a degree in communication skills, journalism or specialized degrees in media and drama, in order to have an edge over others in the same industry.

However, it is important to point out that while these degrees might be helpful, they do not mean you would become the best in the industry especially if you intend sponsoring your own talk show as against being picked.

One most important thing to have whilst starting or running your own talk show is a good personality as you would be viewed or listened to by thousands of audience. There are personality development courses you can take to help brush up on your personality.

List of Legal Documents You Need to Run a Talk Show Business

Just like any other business in the United States of America, it is important that you have certain documentations in place if you intend to run your business legally. Not having the necessary documentations in place will lead you to have problems with the law and you might be banned from running the same kind of business ever again.

So, it is absolutely necessary that you do not jeopardize your chances by ensuring that you get the legal documents required before starting your talk show business in the United States of America. Some of the basic legal documents that you are expected to have in place if you want to legally start and run your own talk show business in the United States of America are;

  • Certificate of Incorporation
  • Operating Agreement for LLCs
  • Business License and Permit
  • Insurance Policy
  • Business Plan
  • Contract Documents
  • Non-Disclosure Agreement
  • Employment Agreement
  • Federal Tax Identification Number
  • Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Financing Your Talk Show Business

There are many people in this industry who have an idea of the kind of program they want to offer, but most of these ideas do not get to see the light because of finance. Having the necessary finance is very important and this is why it is necessary to have a business plan especially if you plan to approach investors to invest in your talk show.

Therefore some of the options that you can explore when sourcing for start-up capital for your talk show business are;

  • Raising money from personal savings and sale of properties
  • Sourcing for soft loans from wealthy family members and friends
  • Raising money from investors and business partners
  • Applying for loan from the bank
  • Pitching your talk show ideas to angel investors and venture capitalists for funds in exchange of equity

Choosing a Suitable Location for your Talk Show Business

The talk show business is one that can be taped anywhere, produced, packaged and then sent to the station where the show is likely to be held. It must only be taped in a particular location if it is a live show but as most talk shows are not aired live, it can be taped anywhere as the location is not that important.

However, the fact that you can record your talk show business from anywhere does not mean that you should choose a location that will be difficult to access for your guests, crew and the audience, especially if the talk show is one that has to have invited audience. This is why taking a look at the industry; you will realize that players are willing to choose a location that is close to the media hub even if they have to pay expensive rents in order to stay in this location.

Getting a good facility in a choice location might be very expensive but if you are able to liaise with a good real estate company, then you are likely to be offered a location that will meet with your needs whilst still being within your budget.

If you however intend to host your talk show via a website, then you most likely might have to operate from home and either choose a location to tape your shows if you will be having an audience or you shoot it in your home if you are going to be running a one man talk show. Whatever you intend to do as regards location, make sure that you conduct thorough research and check what your zoning authorities are likely to allow.

Starting a Talk Show Business – Technical & Manpower Details

In starting a talk show business, you first would need to decide on what genre you want to focus on as this will determine how your source for materials and the guests you will bring to your show. Your production crew is very important as they will not only help with sourcing the right materials for your show, they will also ensure that your program runs according to the standard which you want. Creating the right personality in order to keep your clients engaged is very important as this is what will make for a good show.

You would need to ensure that you get the right crew to help set up the structure that you intend using to tape your live shows. It is important to get brand new equipment when starting up so that the equipment can last for a long time. If you intend getting used equipment, you should ensure that it is in fairly good shape.

As regards the number of employees you would need in order to run your talk show successfully, you will need a Manager, Talk Show Host, Producer, Production Assistant, Engineer, customer care executive, marketing and business development executive, cleaner and security.

Therefore, you will need at least 9 key people if you intend to run your talk show business successfully.

The Service Delivery Process of a Talk Show Business

The service process involved in a talk show business depends entirely into the niche you are into. After selecting your niche, you will need to write a proposal of your talk show so as to get it approved and once it does, your talk show will be aired.

Once your talk show gets approval to be aired, it is expected that you start sourcing for the required materials and guests for your show in order to keep your audience entertained. Once the show has acquired a bit of followership, you can then seek for sponsors and advertisers. These are the ones who will provide the needed revenue to keep your talk show in business for a long while.

Starting a Talk Show Business – The Marketing Plan

  • Marketing ideas and strategies

If you want your talk show to make money, then you would need to take marketing very seriously as this will ensure that your talk show will survive for a long while. However, to be able to get the right people to advertise with your talk show, you must prove your worth by making sure your talk show is able to get a high rating and always have audience tuning in to listen to or watch your talk show.

Due to the serious nature of marketing, it is therefore important that you conduct a feasibility study on your target market so that you know what to expect from them as this will help you package your talk show in such a way as to meet their expectations and therefore ensure that advertisers get value for their money.

So, before drafting your marketing plans and strategies for your talk show business, you should make sure that you have created a compelling profile for your talk show and even for yourself as well. Most talk shows that intend to be national and internationally recognized usually hire a marketing consultant that has an experience in the industry to help draft effective marketing strategies that will help generate the needed revenue for the business.

Some of the platforms that you can utilize in order to market your talk show business include;

  • Introduce your business by sending introductory letters and brochure about your talk show business to corporate organizations, cable television as well as other small scale businesses
  • Advertise your talk show business in popular online blogs and forum
  • Place on the spot adverts about your talk show in popular spots in radio and television stations
  • Engage the services of marketing executives and business development executives in order to engage in direct marketing to generate revenue for your business
  • Install billboards in strategic location in order to market your talk show

Strategies to Boost Your Talk Show Brand Awareness and Create Your Corporate Identity

Talk shows thrive on publicity as this is what helps the rating of their shows, help them garner more audience for their show as well as enable them generate the intended revenue to keep their talk shows alive.

The industry is a fiercely competitive one and so it is important to engage in publicity in order to boost the awareness of your brand. Also, because new talk shows are aired almost every month, engaging in boosting your brand awareness will help keep you on your toes.

There are a number of ways by which talk shows can be publicized, and a combination of boosting the awareness of a brand online and offline has enabled these kind of businesses to reach a wider audience than it would if it focused only on one medium of publicity.

Below therefore are some of the platforms that can be used to boost the brand of your talk show and create your own corporate identity;

  • Participate and sponsor community programs that are in line with your genre
  • Support several charities and publicly announce your support
  • Distribute your handbills and business cards to several strategic people
  • Use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram and Google Plus to boost awareness for your talk show
  • Install billboards in strategic locations in order to raise awareness about your talk show
  • Place adverts in popular online forums and blogs
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