TV Trends

by Jennifer Bozell

TV pilot season 2018 is now behind us. The networks have made their choices regarding what shows on their schedules will be renewed, and which ones are headed to the chopping block.

Let’s take a closer look at why some of these decisions were made.

Some of these decisions are surprising on the surface. Take CBS’ “Elementary.” It is the least watched of all of the network’s dramas. Its ratings have been in a decline for most of the six seasons it has been on the air. Canceled, right? Wrong! Thanks to revenue from a deal with Hulu, coupled with the show’s international success, it’s a profitable show for CBS. “Elementary” is returning next year.

It’s a similar scenario for ABC with their Marvel show “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” Its ratings are nothing impressive, but it does well on Netflix and also has overseas appeal.

The takeaway is that media companies now see the global content market as an important element of their businesses.

As for cancellations, one of the major trends is that networks are most interested in keeping things in house. Take ABC’s “The Middle.” It has done better ratings-wise this season, thanks to its new lead-in show, “Roseanne.”  But given it was produced by an outside studio, Warner Bros. TV, ABC did not have an ownership stake and therefore had to pay a licensing fee for the comedy. So, say goodbye to “The Middle.” Likewise, you can now say goodbye to “Roseanne” as well. After star Roseanne Barr tweeted a racist comment about former President Obama’s aide Valerie Jarrett, ABC quickly yanked the comedy.

The takeaway is that media companies now see the global content market as an important element of their businesses.

Another key factor is the creative direction of the show in question. One might think that renewing a show like “Designated Survivor” would be a no-brainer, given its lucrative pact with Netflix and its strong international showing. But the show went through four, yes, four show runners after only two seasons on the air. The search for yet another show runner, coupled with the struggle to find a creative direction for the series that would appeal to new viewers, proved to be too much of a challenge.

These factors, and many others, influence the decision of buyers every year as they assemble their new fall TV schedules. With any luck, their decisions will prove wise, and the declining ratings of network TV will slow somewhat.

2018-06-20T12:54:29+00:00By |The Biz, Time Sensitive|

About the Author:

Jennifer Bozell is a former ABC Studios executive & was Head of Development for actor Taye Diggs’ production company.