It’s that time of year again, when the broadcast television industry attempts to woo major advertisers during what is known as “upfront” week. The idea is for each network to convince ad buyers their money can best be spent on its shows versus those of the competition.
All this comes at a time when broadcasters are starting to announce which of this year’s shows failed and will not be renewed. It all makes for an interesting mix of “look at this” and “sorry about that” in the midst of free snacks, booze and selfies with celebrities.
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Among shows that will not be showcased during upfront week – because they won’t be around next season – are some familiar names. Mostly, however, the names are not so well-known – because not very many viewers stuck around.
At last count, among the 5 major broadcast networks, Comcast’s (NASDAQ:CMCSAC) NBC and The Walt Disney Co.’s (NYSE:DISC) ABC are tied with 10 cancellations each. Twenty-First Century Fox Inc.’s (TSX:FOXAD) FOX network and CBS Corp. (NYSE:CBSC) have 7 RIPs apiece. CW, jointly owned by CBS and Time Warner (NYSE:TWXC), has 2.
Well-known shows bidding a fond farewell include FOX’s American Idol, ABC’s Castle, CBS’s The Good Wife and Mike & Molly and CW’s America’s Next Top Model, which has been picked up by VH1.
Renewals Hang In ThereEach year amid the carnage left from shows that will not return are the survivors. (In the case of CBS’s Survivor, back for season number 33 that can be taken literally.)
So far the tally is about 90 shows renewed versus about 36 that have been canceled. Notably, CBS has announced that all 5 of its new shows from this past season will be renewed. This should be good news for advertisers who don’t want to think they grabbed the coattail of a loser.
And then there are the new kids on the block.
America’s “Most Watched Network,” CBS, will introduce Kevin James in Kevin Can Wait and Matt LeBlanc in Man With a Plan, both comedies. After losing American Idol, Fox will reboot 24, Prison Break, Lethal Weapon and The Exorcist in an attempt to fill all those hours with familiar-sounding shows designed to garner viewers.
ABC presents a Kiefer Sutherland drama Designated Survivor, about a cabinet member who takes over the presidency after an attack and in what could be described as “Romeo and Juliet, the Sequel,” the network will premiere Still Star-Crossed, a drama about the Montagues and the Capulets after the deaths of Romeo and Juliet.
For its part, NBC tries to hit its comedy stride with The Good Place, a show from the “Parks and Recreation” co-creator Michael Schur starring the Ted Danson and Kristen Bell and Great News, which will be produced by Tina Fey.
A Fool’s Optimism?
Variety reports that network executives are excited about the ad market – despite overall ratings drops – thanks to streaming, cord cutters and many other Internet-based entertainment options for viewers. This includes Alphabet’s (NASDAQ:GOOGB) YouTube, Twitter (NYSE:TWTRC), Hulu and others.
Despite all that, media buyers and analysts alike anticipate spending on TV ads will be up 3% to 5%, which constitutes a turnaround from the past couple of years.