In closing out the first week of 2017, we compiled a list of TEN things we would like to see from the broadcast networks this year (in no particular order) and split them up into two separate postings — the first of which was posted on Friday:
#6- Better Summer Options
The broadcast networks talk a good game about year-round programming. To an extent, they have made good on that: CBS, NBC, ABC and FOX offer their respective perennials Big Brother, America’s Got Talent, The Bachelorette and So You Think You Can Dance. And while the current summer options are still mostly reality-based, each have also offered some scripted options. They’re largely driven by CBS with Under the Dome, Extant, Zoo and Braindead, there was also Aquarius on NBC, Wayward Pines on FOX and the rebooted Uncle Buck on ABC.
But with the exception of Dome, none have last more than two seasons (the jury is still out on a third season of Pines). So either audiences are either really finicky, the networks are half-assing it with scripted options or they’re trying too hard and failing to compete with cable’s scripted summer programming.
Either way, the broadcast networks can do better. It’s the summer. Ratings expectations are lower, so they can afford to take some chances. And if they’re really going to invest in summer programming, they’re really going to have to treat it like they do the fall season and not just as a means of getting to it. Give viewers something worth watching with time to watch it and they’ll watch it. Otherwise, just air a bunch of reruns (see also #1 from Friday) — which I’m sure viewers will be just as fine with if those options are better.
#7- More Saturday Night Options
CBS is giving it a shot with its new series Ransom — which had its time period premiere this past weekend and drew 3.26 million L+SD viewers. How patient will they be with it?How high on the show are they to run it on Saturday nights leading into replays of its crime procedurals instead of into another new program? Will DVR lift be a factor? Regardless, there is an opportunity for the broadcast networks to revive Saturday nights — which we made a case for in November. Bottom line: give viewers something worth watching with time to watch it and they’ll watch it.
#8- No More Hiatuses
It was a good idea a few years ago — midseason breaks for serialized dramas as a means of stretching out a 22-episode order over a traditional 39-week TV season to reduce the number of repeats and preemptions. ABC was at the forefront of this with Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal during the 2013-2014 TV season. Since then, every drama now seems to have a fall finale followed by anywhere from several weeks to a few months off before their midseason return — with varying degrees of ratings success (that’s another posting). Some of these, like Scandal this season (albeit on account of star Kerry Washington’s pregnancy), should just be held for an uninterrupted midseason run to make it easier for viewers to keep track.
#9- More Patience for New Shows
We can’t remember the last time network TV made it through the fall season without a new series cancellation — though there was no full-season pickup for CBS’s Pure Genius beyond its initial order. But, as we made the case for last week, that decision might have been made a bit prematurely as only four episodes had aired and only two weeks of DVR usage data was available. So while the broadcast networks are to be commended for their patience this season (largely because they’re mostly picking up shows they either own or co-own), DVR usage has become such a factor in ratings analysis that it now has to become an even bigger factor in series pickups and renewal decisions.
#10- No More Superheroes
By the time CBS took its first foray in many years into the superhero genre last season with Supergirl, there were already SIX such shows on the air — Marvel’s Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D and Agent Carter on ABC, Gotham on FOX and The Flash, Arrow AND The Legends of Tomorrow on The CW.
We figured that the superhero trend had reached its denouement.
But then Supergirl moved from CBS to sister netlet The CW (which now has superhero shows making up 40% of its schedule). And now NBC has the upcoming Powerless.
What would you like to see from the broadcast networks this year?