Next Year’s TV Now

This is the week many have waited for in Hollywood. In their annual display of wasteful pomp and circumstance, broadcast networks will be announcing their fall 2010 TV schedules to advertisers, in the grand tradition known as “upfronts.” What does this mean if you aren’t an advertiser, writer, or network executive? That you get to find out when your Tivo will be in overload now, so you can strategize your prioritizer all summer long.

All in the (new) family. via Flickr

A reporter from The Hollywood Reporter broke into the tech rehearsal for NBC’s presentation over the weekend, and divulged the details of their fall lineup early, ruining the surprises they hoped would generate some positive press for them this week (what a year…this after the disastrous Leno-Conan war, the cancellation of half of their lineup, and a highly rated Olympics that somehow lost them money…oy).

While it will take all week for all the schedules to fully be revealed, there are some general trends that are making headlines:

  • The Sitcom Strikes Back – Although people have been griping about the decline of network sitcoms for over a decade, these half-hour “situation comedies” have somehow made it through countless critics’ eulogies. Sure, they aren’t the water cooler shows that Friends, Seinfeld, or Will & Grace were (for all those too young to remember, NBC once had shows people talked about), but few shows outside of American Idol, Lost, or Dancing with the Stars are today. These “event” shows are the ones most resilient to DVR-ing, and thus, most appealing to advertisers. However, this season, broadcasters have a ton of sitcoms in the pipeline. Could a full-fledged renaissance be underway? If ABC’s Modern Family is any indication, these shows seem poised for a big primetime comeback.
  • Changing of the Guard – While every spring marks the end of a couple long-lasting, beloved shows, this year has been a bloodbath. This year, we’re saying goodbye to 24, Lost, Law & Order, Heroes, Ugly Betty, and Scrubs. We knew that Lost & 24 were probably expected, and the others were guessable after years of declining ratings – but Law & Order – really?! This is the clearest sign yet that NBC is shutting the door on the past and trying to relaunch itself into a new era.
  • Fallen Idol – While it’s bound to be America’s most watched show yet again this year (and with 6 years on top, break All in the Family’s record of 5 seasons at #1), American Idol is starting to look weak. Ratings are down, fan criticism is up, and Simon’s out. Could next year finally be the year that another show steal’s Idol’s ratings crown?

While networks announce their grand plans to boost their ratings next year, we’ll be enjoying the last few episodes of the shows still on this season. It’s really a shame you can only fast forward and skip through commercials on TV, and can’t just jump past upfronts as well.


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