Tune In or Tune Out: Fall Season Predictions
Last season was a rough one for broadcasters. According to MAGNA, while 81 series debuted, only 11, or 13%, are back this season. That is the lowest percentage in the past five years. As a result, 47% of the networks schedules are different from last year.
While broadcast network ratings continue to decline, viewers’ appetite for content has never been higher. In first quarter this year, the average person consumed 22 minutes more of television a month than last year at that time (Nielsen Cross-Platform Report, 1Q11). What is changing is how viewers are consuming that content. Cable television, DVRs, online/mobile video, tablets, and connected TVs are all part of the ever-changing media habits of consumers.
Coming into the new fall season, here is where each network stands:
FOX: #1 Network on Adults 18-49. American Idol was again the #1 show, despite many changes. FOX’s big splash this fall is Simon Cowell’s return in The X-Factor and Steven Spielberg’s new drama Terra Nova. 6 new shows this fall for FOX.
CBS: #1 Network among total viewers and older demographics. Considered to have the most stable schedule (despite Charlie Sheen) among the major networks, with little reliance on one hit show. 5 new shows this fall.
ABC: Network struggling to develop new hit dramas with reliance on aging shows like Grey’s Anatomy and Desperate Housewives. #1 comedy in television with Modern Family. Pivotal year with 7 new shows this fall, the most of any network.
NBC: Finished only ahead of the CW last season with all seven new fall shows cancelled. Finally found success with mid-season competition show The Voice. With the Super Bowl and Olympics, plus 6 new shows this fall and more at midseason, NBC can afford to take some risks.
CW: Continues to focus on young woman. Lowest rated of the five major broadcast networks. 70% of schedule will be different, the most of any network. 4 new shows this fall.
Before we start the new fall season, the Media Department here at Hill Holliday decided to take an informal poll on which shows will hit and which ones will miss. We showed the media department (48 people) clips of all the new FALL shows and asked them to give each one a “thumbs up” or “thumbs down”. The selection was based on if you would consider watching the show.
THUMBS UP: ABC’s Pan-Am, a period drama based on the iconic 1960’s airline, received the highest amount of votes with almost 90% of our voters giving it a positive rating. Pan-Am gets the cushy post Desperate Housewives (in its last season) timeslot, so it is positioned well for potential success. Two comedies rounded out the top three. FOX’s The New Girl, starring Zoe Deschanel as a newly single woman who moves in with three single guys, had 85% of respondents give it a positive vote. NBC’s Up All Night, starring Christina Applegate and Will Arnett as unprepared new parents, received 81%.
THUMBS DOWN: At 92%, CBS’ How to be a Gentlemen, which centers around a magazine writer who is forced to become a “real man” to keep his job, received the most negative votes in our poll. Gentlemen will benefit from a strong lead-in, CBS’ hit comedy Big Bang Theory. Rounding out the “top” three are Sarah Michelle Gellar’s return to television in the CW’s Ringer (87% “thumbs down”) and ABC’s Once Upon a Time, a fantasy drama using classic fairy tale stories (85% “thumbs down”).
Here is the full top five for “thumbs up” and “thumps down”
We will be sure to track the upcoming fall season and keep everyone posted on the “hits” and “misses” of the new fall season.
For a complete list of the premiere dates for new and returning shows, visit TV By the Numbers.
Allison Scharf and Erica Sperry contributed to this post.