Industry Case Study: 24

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  • Produced by the US Fox Network
  • The show’s USP is that each season represented 24 hours of a single day and the story was told in ‘real time’
  • It used split screens and a digital clock to show events that were happening at the same time and to create a sense of tension
  • The ongoing narrative arc required an audience to find the show early in its run and in 2000 this would have also required a commitment to viewing the show once a week
  • It was a high budget, high concept political thriller whose protagonist was played by the established film actor, Kiefer Sutherland

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The Cast of 24 Season 1

  • It was originally broadcast in the UK on BBC2 and later bought by Sky1
  • The first series was a critical success and it attracted a substantial loyal audience – especially in the UK during its BBC run
  • The loyal audience also watched an after-show discussion programme
  • The overall audience figures were, however, smaller than Fox had predicted and so the show was scheduled to be cancelled
  • Fans of the show gathered online and so Fox knew there was an interested audience
  • This prompted them to release the DVD box set within a few months of the series finale to capitalise on this interest (the series ended in May 2002 and the box set was released Sept/Oct 2002).
  • Prior to 24, box sets usually took much longer to be released
  • The DVD box set sold so well that Fox decided to commission a second series – the DVD box set sold better in the UK than The Lord of the Rings DVD and is said to have increased the US audience by 25%
  • The show went on for a total of 8 full seasons, a 12 episode 9th season and a spin off series, 24: Legacy, broadcast in 2017
  • Fox is planning more TV products within the 24 brand

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The Cast of 24: Legacy



  • Why might the programme have initially failed to generate a large enough audience? How might its narrative structure cause a problem for people interested in the show who may have missed the first few episodes?
  • Why was a small and dedicated audience not sufficient for Fox to immediately commission a second series? How does Fox generate an income?
  • How may the internet have helped promote both the TV programme and the box set?
  • What does this tell us about audience behaviours in the early 2000s compared with audience behaviours today?
  • Although DVD is an ‘old technology’, how may the story of 24’s success be relevant to the contemporary success of serial drama and the ways people access serial drama today?

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