December 1, 2023

TV Networks Preview the New Season

ABC: Tuesday

WHAT’S WORKING “Modern Family,” now at the end of its fourth season, continues to be a war horse for ABC, even though it is not immune to the ratings erosion that has hurt network television in general. “Scandal,” which made its debut in the spring of 2012, is a bona fide hit around the Twitter water cooler, and in some circles “Nashville” is, too.

WHAT’S NOT WORKING “Nashville” is the only drama introduced at last May’s upfront that is getting a second season. Two sitcoms, “Last Man Standing” and “The Neighbors,” are coming back. Otherwise the list of cancellations is long; it includes the two-year-old shows “Happy Endings” and “Body of Proof.”

WHAT WILL HAPPEN AT THE UPFRONTS Expect a lot of attention around “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” a drama from Joss Whedon that picks up where the 2012 film “The Avengers” left off. ABC will also present a spinoff of “Once Upon a Time” set in Wonderland, a drama about seven lottery winners, a thriller called “Betrayal” and a sitcom called “Super Fun Night,” starring Rebel Wilson. There is some speculation that ABC will reduce the aging “Dancing With the Stars” to a once-a-year format, from its current twice a year. BRIAN STELTER

CBS: Wednesday

WHAT’S WORKING Almost everything. While some of its series are aging, and most of the new ones it tried this season flopped, CBS is in a much stronger position than its rivals. “Elementary,” introduced last fall, is the highest-rated new show on an network.

WHAT’S NOT WORKING CBS is down to one “C.S.I.,” the original, after ending “C.S.I.: Miami” last year and canceling “C.S.I.: N.Y.” last week. Ahead of its upfront presentation on Wednesday, it has also dropped several other series that other networks would probably have kept, like “Golden Boys” and “Vegas.”

WHAT WILL HAPPEN AT THE UPFRONTS Expanding on its existing strengths in comedy, CBS will add another from Chuck Lorre, “Mom,” starring Anna Faris and Allison Janney; one from Greg Garcia, “The Millers,” starring Will Arnett; and “We Are Men,” starring Kal Penn and Tony Shalhoub. The network will also promote Robin Williams’s return to television in the sitcom “Crazy Ones.” It is a single-camera comedy, which is noteworthy because CBS usually schedules multiple-camera ones with audience laughter. Among its new dramas are “Intelligence” and “Hostages.” BRIAN STELTER

FOX: Monday

WHAT’S WORKING Fox has fallen from the days when “American Idol” ruled prime time and 18-to-49-year-old viewers tuned in en masse. A couple bright spots in an otherwise troubled schedule included “The Following,” in which Kevin Bacon plays an F.B.I. agent engaged in a cat-and-mouse game with a serial killer, and “New Girl.”

WHAT’S NOT WORKING Dramas like “Mob Doctor” and “Touch” fizzled early on Fox, while the once-popular “Glee” has lost steam. “The X Factor” is expected to return, but the Simon Cowell singing competition series has shown it is no “American Idol” in the ratings.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN AT THE UPFRONTS Fox will turn on the irreverent charm as it tries to sell marketers on five new comedies, including “Brooklyn Nine-Nine,” set in a police precinct, and “Dads,” starring Seth Green. The network’s four new dramas include two police shows: “Gang Related,” set in Los Angeles, and “Almost Human,” a futuristic drama from J. J. Abrams. AMY CHOZICK

NBC: Monday

WHAT’S WORKING “The Voice” has emerged as the top reality series on television, and doubling up on competitions in the same season did not hurt it. “Revolution” showed promise in the fall, but fell off in the spring. “Grimm” is a modest hit on Friday — can it move to another night? “Chicago Fire” proved a modest success. “Parenthood” is underrated. Sports — the N.F.L. and the Winter Olympics — will provide the most ratings muscle. “Saturday Night Live” remains a cultural icon.

WHAT’S NOT WORKING Just about everything else. With “The Office” gone, no semblance of a hit comedy survives; only two comedies, “Parks and Recreation” and “Community,” were renewed. Beyond “The Voice,” there are no islands of real strength to build around. New dramas have been mostly a disaster. The newsmagazine “Rock Center” did not survive.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN AT THE UPFRONTS NBC will make news in late night with the ascension of Jimmy Fallon to “The Tonight Show” and the appointment of Seth Meyers to host “Late Night.” The crucial new series will be Sean Hayes’s and Michael J. Fox’s sitcoms, which will be asked to prop up a whole night. The network will introduce an array of shows, 17 in all, hoping something it tosses against the wall — with formats that touch on medical, legal, police and other traditional themes — sticks this time. NBC will promise to use both the fall and the post-Olympic weeks to introduce new shows. BILL CARTER


WHAT’S WORKING Univision beat NBC in the February sweeps, coming in fourth place with adults in the 18-49 demographic, while NBC finished fifth. Univision also announced it would rename its second-largest network, to UniMás from TeleFutura, meant to focus on a younger, male Latino audience. The network also participated in the Digital Content NewFronts for the first time this year, where executives announced expanded online content offerings including an original Web series about aspiring salsa-dance champions called “Salseras,” created in partnership with the music video Web site Vevo.

WHAT’S NOT WORKING The network has been in the process of putting together Fusion, a new 24-hour news and entertainment channel meant for bicultural English-speaking Latinos. The channel is the first joint venture between ABC News and Univision, and while it has announced a number of important hirings and a new logo, the question remains whether it will be able to keep the attention of its intended audience. A full slate of programming is expected later this year.

WHAT WILL HAPPEN AT THE UPFRONTS Univision executives will announce more than 30 new shows for the 2013-14 season, including two new telenovelas: “La Tempestad” (“The Storm”), billed as one of the network’s most ambitious productions, and “Mentir Para Vivir” (“Lie So You Can Live”), which will include additional multimedia content on UVideos, the network’s first digital-content platform. Univision has also taken a cue from successful English-language programming to create “Gossip Girl Acapulco.” TANZINA VEGA

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Advertising: Networks Try a Social Media Spin at the Upfronts

Social media have been an integral part of the sales pitch at the “upfront” presentations held by Fox on Monday, ABC on Tuesday and CBS on Wednesday.

“We’ve amassed 100 million fans on social media,” the president of entertainment for CBS, Nina Tassler, told advertisers. “That’s one hell of a water cooler.”

On Thursday, the CW network — owned by Time Warner and the CBS Corporation — will take it a step further, telling advertisers they can be part of its engagement with viewers. CW executives will announce at their presentation two initiatives that let advertisers follow viewers onto social media Web sites and reward them for watching.

In one new effort, in conjunction with a maker of mobile apps, Shopkick, viewers who open up an app at a certain time — say, when a store has a commercial running on a CW show — could receive special offers or discounts from that retailer. (The Shopkick app would listen to the audio of the commercial to detect when it appears.)

As Cyriac Roeding, chief executive of Shopkick, put it: “The cellphone is the only interactive medium that you carry with you while you’re watching TV and while you’re shopping in the store. The cellphone is therefore the only interactive medium that can function as the bridge between the TV screen and the store shelf.”

Shopkick hopes to gain new users through the deal with CW, for undisclosed terms. And CW hopes to be another bridge between advertisers and consumers.

“We know viewers have these other devices while they are watching TV,” said Rob Tuck, executive vice president for national ad sales at CW, adding that such viewers include his daughter, 16, and his son, 17.

The other initiative is an online game, Bwingo, to be used through Facebook or CW’s Web site, By playing the game during a broadcast, viewers “will have the ability to gain rewards,” Mr. Tuck said.

Both initiatives encourage live television viewing, rather than time-shifted viewing through DVRs.


Accompanying the CW announcements will be previews of new shows for the 2011-12 season, including “Ringer,” with Sarah Michelle Gellar, the star of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” on a CW predecessor, WB, and “Hart of Dixie,” with Rachel Bilson.

The potential for strong advertising sales in the coming upfront market — called that because commercial time is sold before a season begins — is encouraging networks like CW to offer marketers new opportunities in addition to buying commercial time.

Some TV companies are hoping to capitalize on the perceived demand by adding hours of programming — and some are even adding networks.

Univision Communications, at its upfront presentation on Thursday, is to announce plans to start three cable channels in 2012, specializing in sports, news and the soapy, serialized Spanish-language dramas known as telenovelas.

“We want to build networks around the biggest passion points” of viewers, said César Conde, president of the Univision Networks unit of Univision Communications.

Also, as part of a deal with Grupo Televisa, the Mexican TV giant, Univision is acquiring the other 50 percent interest in six cable channels in which it had shared ownership. The channels offer programs in genres like comedy, movies and music.

Univision also operates two broadcast networks, Univision and TeleFutura, and a cable channel, Galavisión.

“Univision today is three,” Mr. Conde said, referring to the number of channels it operates. “Univision in 2012 will be 12.”

Coincidentally, two corporate siblings of CW — Turner, part of Time Warner, and CBS, part of the CBS Corporation — both made upfront presentations on Wednesday.

After joking his way (very effectively) through technical miscues that plagued his presentation, the Turner Entertainment president, Steve Koonin, urged advertisers to “stop leaving” the event and promised Turner’s networks, TNT and TBS, would be on all but equal footing with the broadcasters in the coming year.

TBS, the comedy network for Turner, and TNT, the drama network, are adding series that include “The Wedding Band,” with Brian Austin Green; “Falling Skies,” with Noah Wyle; and “Franklin and Bash,” with Mark-Paul Gosselaar and Breckin Meyer.

TNT will also try to keep the magic going with a spinoff of its most successful series, “The Closer.” Mary McDonnell, who has played a recurring character on the series, will headline the spinoff, “Major Crimes.”

The other CW sibling, CBS, is reconfiguring its lineup for 2011-12 from a position of strength, adding five series — three dramas and two sitcoms — and moving several returning shows. The changes affect every night of the week, but a similar shakeup for 2010-11 paid off with notable ratings gains.

Among the surprises: “The Good Wife” is moving from 10 p.m. Tuesday to 9 p.m. Sunday, where it will face an ABC stalwart, “Desperate Housewives,” that is popular with women. Also, CBS is moving “Rules of Engagement” to Saturday — the first time in many seasons it will schedule original episodes of a scripted show on that night.


CBS will add one sitcom to its popular lineup of Monday comedies: “2 Broke Girls” will run at 8:30 p.m., following “How I Met Your Mother” and leading into “Two and a Half Men,” in which, as was announced last week, Ashton Kutcher will replace Charlie Sheen.

The other new sitcom is “How to Be a Gentleman,” on Thursday.

The new CBS dramas are “Unforgettable,” on Tuesday; “Person of Interest,” on Thursday; and “The Gifted Man” on Friday.

The upfront week is to end on Thursday with the presentations by CW and Univision, as well as another Hispanic network, Vme.

Stuart Elliott contributed reporting.

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