May 6, 2019

TV Upfronts Preview

It’s May, which means the broadcast networks are about to cancel a bunch of shows, order even more new series (upfronts) and then brag to the advertising community that it’s all part of some predetermined plan to be No. 1… but number #1 at and for what exactly?

(ABC/Pawel Kaminski) JIMMY KIMMEL. Kimmel is up for contract renewal this season.

ABC has a “supersized” season on it’s hands due to it’s merger with FOX. It’s a new era at ABC. The Disney-owned broadcaster this season welcomes former Fox execs Peter Rice and Dana Walden to the fold as the duo will, alongside new ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke, look to put their stamp on the network. Burke, specifically, has said her goal is to see ABC regain its perch as the most-watched broadcaster among women. Okay, we’re here for that. Lets see what the network delivers for the 2019-20 season.

America’s most-watched network is in uncharted territory as this is its first upfront in recent memory without CBS Corp. CEO Leslie Moonves, who typically played a big role in renewal, cancellation and new series pickups. This year, new CBS chief creative officer David Nevins (who oversees Showtime) is stepping up to help make those decisions alongside CBS president Kelly Kahl. Heading into their upfronts, the network has more “bubble series” than ever. Why you ask? The network’s annual renewal spree (which last year included veterans Hawaii Five-0 and Bull ) never happened. Instead, CBS handed out early pickups to all three NCIS dramas plus Blue Bloods and an odd handful of rookie series. Left on the outside awaiting their futures are:  Hawaii, Madam Secretary, MacGyver, SEAL Team and SWAT . Will the network opt for a radical face-lift and expand beyond its treasured tried and true procedurals?

On the comedy front, CBS faces a massive hole on its schedule as TV’s most-watched comedy, The Big Bang Theory ends this month after 12 seasons. Will the network stick with multi-camera comedies and its Lorre-produced block including the previously renewed Mom?

Meanwhile at the CW, network president Mark Pedowitz is pushing harder into year-round programming with scripted originals, and potentially fewer low-cost Canadian imports. With their DC hit Arrow ending in 2019-20, The CW is ready to usher in the second wave of DC Comics fare with Batwoman considered a lock to go to series. Currently the “New FOX” looks a lot like the old network. Only time will tell where it’s programming focus will go.

New NBC Entertainment presidents Paul Telegdy and George Cheeks have not said much about what their vision is for the network after the duo took over for Bob Greenblatt last September. Heading into the pre-upfronts week, NBC has renewed the bulk of its scripted lineup. Which leaves us scratching our heads for what may be coming. Stay tuned as we keep an eye on the upcoming TV line up for what will and won’t be coming to your TV this fall.