For those in the media industry, this is likely how you feel now that the Prime Time Upfronts have concluded. Yes, although informative and fun, the Upfronts can make for a really long week.
The final takeaways, however, are always interesting. The biggest trends this year include greater diversity, revamping of old shows and a giant push for both greater accessibility and transparency of audience data. Now in case you didn’t get to attend, we thought we’d summarize the highlights from each network.
NBC. Sports, special event programming and late-night shows continue to be the backbone of NBC. Noticeably absent from the line-up are the strong comedies such as “Friends” and “30 Rock” that once defined the network. In keeping with in the theme of “what’s old is now new again,” NBC will bring back “Coach” and “Heroes Reborn.”
ABC. With hits like “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder,” ABC will continue to highlight onscreen diversity while appealing to a broader demographic. This year they will launch “Dr. Ken” and “Uncle Buck,” as they look to hold their position as the network with the most minority leads. ABC also unveiled its All Access Dashboard that allows, “targeting ads based on consumer attributes,” for media buyers and planners, says Geri Wang, president of sales at ABC. She also adds, “This takes television beyond the traditional demographics, allowing for more data and personalization.”
CBS. Calling 2015-16 the “Gold Season,” CBS plans for an exciting year with the 50th Anniversary of the Super Bowl and Stephen Colbert premiering as The Late Show’s new host. CBS will also make a push to bring in a younger audience. This effort can be seen with shows like “Supergirl” and a TV adaption of “Limitless.” Both are clear departures from typical CBS programming.
FOX. “Empire” “Empire” “Empire.” Fox’s midseason break out hit earned the spot as TV’s #1 series. The diversity of the cast and bold story lines has FOX proving that when it doesn’t play it too safe, it works. In contrast to “Empire,” FOX lost shows such as “Glee,” “Mindy Project,” and in its final season “American Idol.” Hoping to bolster ratings, they’re attempting to repurpose movies and books like “Minority Report” and “Lucifer” for TV. And of course, they’re bringing back their own cult classic “X-Files.”
CW. When something works, stick with it. That’s the way CW is approaching their lineup. Remaining true to its younger-skewing audience, CW will return the existing superhero/comic book series, “The Flash”, “iZombie”,” Arrow” and “Supernatural”. And certainly they’re hoping for repeated success with “Jane the Virgin,” which earned CW its first-ever Golden Globe award. The only new series they announced was “Crazy Ex Girlfriend.”
Overall, the Prime Time Upfronts are a terrific reminder that TV continues to thrive. The networks keep bringing forth distinctive and entertaining content. Viewership across all TV platforms is increasing. And the reach and scale of broadcast still can’t be beat. It’s an exciting time to be a part of everything TV.