The famed American novelist, F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote, “Let me tell you about the very rich; they are different from you and me.”
Apparently one of the differences has to do with health care and the modern-day rise of what is known as “concierge medicine” in which patients enter into a contract with a primary physician in order to ensure that the doctor is (more or less) always on call for whatever ailment arises… from hang nails, to something a bit more serious.
That’s quite reassuring (for those who have the bucks), and — as it so happens — for the creators of USA’s aptly named hit series, “Royal Pains,” which enters its eighth and final season this May 18th. The ‘royal pains’ refer to the assorted (and esoteric) ailments of the rich and famous who summer out in the Hamptons on the southern fork of Long Island, New York.
The doctor servicing these uber-wealthy Hamptonites is the sincere, kind-hearted Hank Lawson (played by former soap opera star, Mark Feuerstein), who was once an up-and-coming E.R. doctor practicing in Manhattan. But he made one serious career-ending mistake by having a very wealthy hospital benefactor die while under his care. Poof goes his job; his income and his fiancé.
Fortunately for Dr. Lawson, he has a kid brother, Evan (played by Paulo Costanzo) who convinces the down-in-the-dumps doctor to visit the Hamptons over a long holiday. They end up crashing a billionaire’s party where Dr. Hank Lawson saves a seriously ill guest and the rest is history. His quick-thinking attracts the notice of several guests, and before you know it he enters into a concierge practice (aka, “HankMed”) with his brother, Evan (an accountant), as Chief Financial Officer.
The fact that “Royal Pains” has made it to its eighth (and final) season on USA Network is all you really need to know about the success of this medical procedural that serves out equal doses of light comedy, romance and medical mystery. Very few scripted shows last this long and — despite the fact that Live ratings and shares fell significantly from Season Five to Six — they have now stabilized over the past two years:
Undoubtedly, “Royal Pains” has endured the (almost) inevitable audience erosion that attends long-running television series, but the show’s erosion is not so severe when one considers the dramatic level of DVR activity, which – by 15 days of playback – trebles the Live-only rating (from .96, to 2.95):
The recipients of Dr. Hank Lawson’s concierge medical services are more upscale than the show’s general audience. A lot more! Indeed, “Royal Pain’s” audience income is more or less in alignment with the general population (but is slightly higher than the USA Network’s overall primetime household audience):
Local Cable Advertising Demand
Over the past two seasons, nearly 150 clients have ordered 870 :30-second units across 42 Viamedia markets (60% of our national footprint.) That comes to an average of nearly six spots per client.
(Source: B.I.G.SM database — Copyright © 2016 by Viamedia, Inc. All Rights Reserved)
In terms of local cable advertising categories, Automotive captures 41% of all investments (about eight percentage points higher than Automotive’s share company-wide across all programming.) And although Furniture & Floor Covering’s share (9%) is less than one-fourth the size of Automotive’s, it should be noted that Furniture’s share in “Royal Pains” is more than double the figure for this category company-wide. The third largest category (Medical/Health Care) is also over-represented in the show (8% share) which should come as no surprise given the plot line of “Royal Pains”:
The Final Season
How has “Royal Pains” managed to make it through seven seasons (and nearly 100 episodes) while still retaining a strong audience following? The directors have cast an appealing ensemble of likeable actors who have been thrown into numerous plots that are both serious and light-hearted. There’s Hank’s younger brother, who is not above using questionable techniques to promote “HankMed” and who eventually falls in love with the daughter of a wealthy military man running for Congress. And then there’s Hank’s “sometimes girlfriend”, Jill Casey, a local hospital administrator (played by Jill Casey – a recurring cast member of “The Good Wife”), and Divya Katdare (played by the British-American actress Reshma Shetty), who as a valued assistant at “HankMed” must balance her own career ambitions with the demands placed upon her by overly strict parents. These (along with many others) have made for the sort of easy-breezy viewing that probably would have bogged down years ago had “Royal Pains” focused solely on the mystery maladies that descend upon the very well-to-do.
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Written by Jonathan Sims, VP Media Research, Viamedia