Friday, May 18, 2012

2012 Upfront Answers, General Thoughts

Last week, I did a series of pre-upfront posts called "Upfront Questions" in which I posed one question for each night of the schedule. My post-upfront coverage is called "Upfront Answers," in which I take a look at how they addressed my questions. I'm wrapping it up by coming full circle and revisiting my "General Thoughts" from the beginning of last week.

Other Upfront Answers: NBC | Fox | ABC | CBS | The CW | General

For further reference: General Upfront Questions

My Question: Who Attacks Tuesday?

Unfortunately, there doesn't appear to be a big splashy attack of the evening. Tuesday does have the most new shows of any night (tied with Wednesday), and it also has the highest volume of the hottest category (sitcom) this fall. But it's worth wondering whether any of those shows will actually work. Fox is leading off its new sitcom hour with a show that I don't particularly think deserves such a role (Raising Hope), ABC is bringing over a couple previously marginal shows that don't match very well with Dancing with the Stars, and NBC's are unknowns. CBS again refused to use NCIS to directly help a new show. NBC's comedy hour has the most upside since it has a good lead-in, but who wants to bet on NBC at this point? Overall, looks like it could be another bad season for Tuesday nights.

My Question: Will Premiere Scheduling Get Even Crazier?

As I said last time, we didn't get actual dates for the most part. Kind of a dumb Upfront Question, sorry! But there were lots of hints that premieres, indeed, may get even crazier. NBC said they want to premiere Grimm in August and sample their comedies "during the Olympics," whatever that means. It's confirmed that The Voice is launching early (September 10). ABC said they will again stagger their premieres. Fox talked about wanting to start stuff early. And the CW is going the opposite of their typical direction and starting the season late (they said early October). I'll try to do another post on this after the dates are revealed this summer.

My Question: How Many and What Kinds of New Shows?

Let me revisit my table from last time (just looking at the big four):

Year New Scripted New Dramas New Sitcoms New Sitcom%
2006-07 33 21 12 36%
2007-08 27 18 9 33%
2008-09 25 16 9 36%
2009-10 26 16 10 38%
2010-11 34 20 14 41%
2011-12 40 22 18 45%
2012-13 34 18 16 47%

At least right now*, both my predix were wrong. There are noticeably fewer new shows, and sitcoms didn't pass dramas. On the former, I would guess a good 2011-12 for new shows helped; there were several more newbies renewed last year than in any of the previous few seasons, plus The X Factor and The Voice emerged as major consumers of real estate. When I looked back at new shows, I noticed primetime seems to alternate between good and bad years for development. Maybe that's because they follow up the good years by trying to shore up the sophomores and not putting a high priority on the new shows. That shoring up is certainly happening in a huge way with shows like Revenge and Person of Interest.

Does that mean an ugly year for new shows looms? Let's hope not. But I have to say that generally speaking, I felt most networks should have cancelled one more show and greenlit at least one more pilot. Of course, that's without actually seeing the pilots.

On the drama/sitcom split, the percentage of sitcoms did tick up again, and a couple networks (Fox and NBC) actually have more sitcoms than dramas. But they were overwhelmed by CBS and ABC going way in the other direction. The sense I got from the later pilot updates was that both networks had really bad comedy development. Unfortunate, but it's how it goes sometimes.

*- I left ABC's Mistresses, currently slated for summer 2013, and that pirate show on NBC (might be summer) in those counts for now, but I won't ultimately count them if they end up in the summer. There are also some other pilots still floating around that might get a nod, and for some reason I feel like I may have left something out. Anyway, I'd expect this number will end up somewhere other than 34.


Spot said...

I hope ABC isn't going to stagger their Sunday premieres. They need a big opening from Once Upon a Time to ripple throughout the night. And the hour-long Modern Family premiere trick worked for Revenge last year, so I hope they do it again for Nashville. A late start for Last Resort, maybe?

Spot said...

Well, I would certainly think they will want the Once premiere leading into the Revenge premiere. But it wouldn't shock me to see a two-hour Revenge premiere for its first night with 666 Park the next week.

Spot said...

Yeah, that's a good point. Then they can pump the Revenge premiere full of promos for 666's premiere.

Spot said...

I'm most surprised that networks weren't more aggressively using their few high-rated shows to launch new shows. Castle's still going to follow Dancing. NCIS will still lead into LA. X and Idol will be boosting Glee, of all shows. At least NBC has The Voice leading into its most promising drama in Revolution and its two most anticipated sitcoms.

Also, I think NBC best took advantage of Tuesday's weakness by having Go On and New Normal at 9:00. ABC is trying the same trick, but I don't think it'll match up as well, plus DWTS is slowly dying. New Girl really faded in the spring, plus the MLB playoffs took a big chunk out after it debuted. Raising Hope is not an anchor. NCIS's lead-in is wasted on a fourth-year drama.

The other thing I found interesting was that Friday at 8:00 and 9:00 is 80% scripted. When was the last time that was the case?

Spot said...

Again, on CBS comedies in particular, they had a lot of single-cams in the pipeline, but I got the sense that they weren't enthusiastic about the format given their ongoing success in the multi-cam arena. So, we get to pick-up time, and they have a bunch of single-cams that they don't know how to sell, and then their multi-cams come out unpromising too. Hence why we didn't get the seemingly obvious expansion, maybe along w/ a dose of "Could Person on Interest GROW into the future of Thursdays?"...

Spot said...

I would say they WERE enthusiastic about the format, just not the individual shows. They wouldn't have tried so hard with single-cams if they didn't want to do them. But ultimately the shows weren't good enough to go out on that limb. I would still argue, however they ended up there, that greenlighting just two new comedies when they have so many huge returning ones equals very bad development.

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