‘Yellowstone’ TV: How Paramount Network Is Hoping to Make More Shows Like the Hit Kevin Costner Series

by Quentin Blount

“Yellowstone,” Paramount Network’s hit drama series recently finished its third season as the most-watched cable program of 2020.

The show is co-created by Taylor Sheridan and John Linson. It follows John Dutton and his family, who control the largest contiguous ranch in the United States. Dutton is played by Oscar winner Kevin Costner. In the show, the Dutton family struggles to protect their ranch from a variety of threats including land developers, bankers and Native American activists.

“Yellowstone” has been dominating cable ratings in season three. The season finale drew in 7.6 million viewers – more than one million more viewers than any other episode in the series’ history. Those numbers make it the No. 1 most-watched cable telecast of the year. The show was also prominent on social media – especially on Facebook. The third season was No. 1 for views and engagements all cable series programming.

Meanwhile, the show features a variety of beautiful western landscapes. Additionally, it’s full of movie-like special effects, famous music, and nuanced scriptwriting.

For example, the set of the show has an entire workshop dedicated to manufacturing special tools and effects for specific scenes.


Sheridan says that the show’s authenticity is a big reason why it draws in so many viewers.

“People tune in to the show for varying reasons, but the authenticity of the show is its bedrock,” Sheridan told Deadline. “From the saddles that are used, from the kind of horses that we use, to the situations that I place them in that if you don’t spend your afternoons moving cattle, you don’t know those situations exist.”

Building a community

The network’s social media and digital teams went into season three with the goal of making their accounts more “fan-focused.”

“Initially, our social presence was positioned as this omniscient cowboy who knew everything about the show,” Breia Brissey, social media producer told Viacom CBS. “We kind of pivoted from that to really make it so that our voice across platform’s is the voice of the show’s number one fan and so naturally the go-to place for all things Yellowstone.”

After making the shift, social media engagements went up 72 percent as compared to 2019. Furthermore, while the show is airing, the social media team utilizes behind-the-scenes footage and trailers to hype up the episodes. They’ve also worked on building up their community by posting user-generated content.

“I read every single DM that we get,” says Brissey. “On Sunday nights within an hour of the show ending we’re inundated with messages. It’s not only been a gold mine for us when it comes to user-generated content, but it lets people know that there are real people behind these accounts. That we hear them and we see them. We’re listening.”

There’s no arguing with their results. It seems that moving forward, Paramount Network has found a recipe for success with “Yellowstone.” Whatever endeavors the network takes on next, we can be sure that realism, authenticity, and advanced social media strategies will be top priorities.

That didn’t stop one fan on Twitter from giving the network some advice…

“Make sure Kevin Costner is a major part of any show and I will definitely watch! @modernwest @IamKevinCostner,” the user tweeted.

Probably not a bad idea.