In an upfront call today Kevin Reilly confirmed our story that American Idol will reduce its hours and change its air pattern for the upcoming fourteenth season. Touting a “more streamlined” format, he said that Season 14 will be 37 hours, about two-thirds of the current run of close to 60 hours. Next season will likely kick off with the traditional twice-weekly pattern during the audition rounds before transitioning to a “two hour show on one night for most of its run,” Reilly said. He also confirmed that “we’re getting good indication from all” of the current judges that they will return next season. Reilly dismissed a notion that Fox is looking for an Idol turnaround. “It will not come back to being the rating champion it once was but… it can be a vital, potent unscripted show in its time period, like CBS’ Survivor,” he said. “That’s the mode we’re in and we believe [Idol] will be on the air for many years to come.”
Related: Fox 2014 Schedule: ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’ & ‘Mulaney’ Join Sunday Animated Block, ‘Glee’ Held For Midseason
Also on the call, Reilly confirmed that Sleepy Hollow’s second season would consist of 18 episodes that will air mostly uninterrupted. The order for new Batman prequel series Gotham is for 16 episodes. “It hasn’t been written in stone tablets that TV has to be done in 13 and 22-episode increments,” Reilly quipped, adding, “We handcraft them here at Fox.”
Reilly hinted the possibility that the final season order for Glee, currently at 22 episodes, could be trimmed, especially with the show not on the fall schedule. “We’re going to sit down and talk [with exec producer Ryan Murphy] about how to end the show and how many that is,” he said. He also confirmed that the network’s upcoming remake of the British drama Broadchurch, event series Gracepoint, will have a different ending than the original.
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Steve Burke doesn’t want people, or advertisers, to pay attention to total viewer ratings because “we’re in the 18-to-49 business,” he told a press gathering today in the run-up to the upfront sales season. Indeed, if presented with a program that would attract a big total audience, but not would be weak in the target demo, “we wouldn’t pick that show up,” he says. That’s required a change in thinking at the NBC, where shows such as Today and Nightly News With Brian Williams often are promoted on the basis of the 25-54 demo. “They should at least know both” the younger and older demo numbers, Burke says. He acknowledges that older viewers can be attractive for advertisers; for example, NBC has tried to capitalize on The Blacklist‘s popularity with 55-to-64 year olds, a group it calls the Alpha Boomers. Still, Burke says, “it’s very hard to get the industry to change” and “as long as people keep score that way [by focusing on young adults], that’s how we’re going to broadcast.”
The NBCUniversal exec renewed a familiar call for the industry to look at 52 weeks of programming instead of the 35 weeks from September to May. “We’re living in a completely different time now,” he says. “We’re competing straight through the summer.” He and research chief Alan Wurtzel also want Nielsen to step up its efforts to measure viewing on mobile devices, and advertisers to buy spots based on the number of people watching over seven days, not just three. “Those are things the industry can do today,” Wurtzel says. Burke adds that for some shows such as Saturday Night Live and The Tonight Show as much as 40% of the views “we’re not monetizing and we need to change that. Read More »
How would hit ABC comedy Modern Family look and sound like if it aired on cable? The show’s writers offer a peek in a promo for the Emmy-winning series’ upcoming off-network launch on USA Network in September. The video was a highlight at today’s USA upfront presentation, where Modern Family, its cast and co-creator Steve Levitan were the main attraction. Enjoy and keep in mind that the video is the result of what I hear were 17 cuts to tone the original down and make it suitable for public (but definitely not family) viewing.
Related: USA Unveils Drama Development Slate, Plans For Daytime
It’s been another upfront where projects that had been rejected in the past got to shine. Of the four new scripted series showcased at the Turner upfront presentation today, three had been previously developed at other networks. That includes David Baldacci/Shane Brennan’s TNT drama King And Maxwell, which was at CBS; Howard Gordon/Jeffrey Nachmanoff’s TNT drama Legends, which was at NBC; and Bill Lawrence/Greg Malins TBS comedy Ground Floor, which was at CBS.
UPFRONTS 2012: The Year Of Underdogs, Comebacks & Second Chances
Later today at the CBS upfront presentation, the network unveiled We Are Men, a new single-camera comedy series from writer Rob Greenberg, who had written the pilot years ago. A number of times CBS had asked him to convert it to multi-camera. He didn’t. It finally was picked up as Greenberg’s original single-camera vision last summer but almost died when one of the four leads could not be cast. The pilot ended up filming late in the traditional pilot season after landing a cast that includes Tony Shalhoub, Kal Penn and Jerry O’Connell, and today it landed a coveted spot on the CBS fall schedule.
Yesterday, ABC gave its highest-profile slot for a new comedy series, the … Read More »
There are several comedy and drama pilots not picked up to series yet that are still in play. But among returning scripted series, only one, NBC drama Hannibal, went through the upfronts without learning its fate. The series, from Pushing Daisies creator Bryan Fuller, got off to a solid ratings start and was in serious contention for an early renewal. The numbers eventually tapered off, and NBC put the renewal decision on hold. Hannibal was well reviewed, and I hear there has been interest from at least one cable network in case NBC passes on a second season. Additionally, I hear Amazon, which currently carries repeats of the show, has expressed interest in taking it on. There are no talks going on and Hannibal has not been shopped as the producers are waiting on a renewal at NBC. Hannibal, from Gaumont International Television, is produced under a different model at a license fee that is a fraction of what dramas with similar production values cost.
Looks like Univision saved something extra for their upfront presentation today in NY. Promising “fun, fast-paced entertainment” Univision Networks president Cesar Conde announced that the company has a new partnership with El Rey Network, the upcoming English-language cable network from filmmaker Robert Rodriguez and John Fogelman and Cristina Patwa’s FactoryMade. El Rey is set to launch at the end of the year via Comcast. Univision will be responsible for the back-office operations, sales and distribution of the network. “The El Rey Network is going to be the home of kick-ass entertainment,” said Rodriguez today onstage. The filmmaker said that the first shows from El Rey will be a TV version of his and Quentin Tarantino’s Dusk Till Dawn movie and an as yet unnamed action series developed by Fringe and Star Trek Into Darkness producers Alex Kurtzman and Robert Orci’s K/O Paper Products.
Related: Univision Announces ‘Breaking Bad’ & ‘Gossip Girl’ Adaptations
The network today also announced Va Por Ti, a new singing competition series for Sunday nights. Additionally, Conde said Univision will be showing the award show Premios TyNovelas that will cover Hispanic programming in both Mexico and the U.S. The show will air the same day in the States and Mexico. Read More »
This summer Fox will begin testing technology that can update or swap ads that people see when they watch shows on demand, the network’s President of Sales Toby Byrne told buyers today. The goal is to have the service ready for next year. “A consumer can watch Fox on any device wherever they are, and your ad can be there too,” he said at the network’s upfront presentation at New York’s Beacon Theater. It was part of a joint presentation with Fox Broadcasting Chairman Kevin Reilly to underscore the company’s eagerness to work with new technology to help build ratings. “We will be No. 1 again next season,” Reilly vowed. The execs said that – unlike their broadcast and cable competitors — the network offers buyers “scale, youth, and influence.” Technology helps, they said: The network benefits from DVR time shifting, as well as streaming and VOD even though many of those viewers still aren’t fully included in Nielsen’s ratings. They added that Fox shows are especially popular with people on social networks including Facebook ad Twitter. “We dominate in the social space,“ Reilly said. “It indicates a certain level of engagement and that has value.” The … Read More »
The upfront ad sales season would seem incomplete without a grandiose forecast from the CBS chief. But Les Moonves held his tongue regarding the upcoming market for 2013-2014…until tonight. He told analysts, following CBS’ Q1 report, that the network would see “high-single to low-double-digit increases” in the unit price for each 1,000 viewers an ad reaches. “There you have it,” he said. “The numbers you’ve been waiting for.” Moonves startled company followers two years ago when he predicted that his network would see a double-digit increase, and then made good on it. He was not so lucky last year when CBS’ prices rose about 9% after he again predicted a double-digit increase. Moonves says that this year “there’s a lot of noise out there” about the market — which some analysts say could be soft. “I can assure you that next season will be another terrific year” with stronger demand for inventory than at this time last year. What’s more, “unless there’s a network on Mars that we’re not aware of, we’re the No. 1 network in the entire universe.”
Credit Suisse’s Michael Senno adds fresh data today to support the increasingly popular view on Wall Street that the TV ad market is losing steam — and may endanger the boom in media company stock prices. His survey of ad buyers indicates that they “expect modest low to mid-single digit CPM inflation and flat to slightly higher total dollar volume growth” in the 2013/2014 upfront market which follows “last year’s trend of slowing growth.” Senno predicts unit prices to rise 4% with CBS +5%, Fox and cable +4%, NBC and ABC +3%, and syndication +2%. The problem goes beyond sluggish ratings. Overall ad spending was lower in relation to the GDP than it’s been at least since 1980. And national broadcast ad sales last year were still 7% below their pre-recession peak in 2006, despite a 12.6% growth in spending by auto makers. It seems that ad buyers who are cutting spending on print newspapers and magazines are shifting more dollars to online media than to TV. All told, Senno says that TV ad sales this year will fall 2.8% — which would represent 1.7% growth if you eliminate spending tied to the elections and the Olympics from the 2012 tally. Read More »
ABC has joined CBS and the CW in wrapping its upfront sales. ABC’s volume was near its upfront haul from last year, which was $2.4 billion-$2.5 billion. In a weaker upfront marketplace, ABC’s CPMs rose 6%-8% vs. 11%-12% last year for inventory close to last year’s levels. The network sold ads across all platforms, including digital.
CBS Wraps Upfront Sales On Par With 2011
The CW Wraps Up Upfront Sales As Others Head Into Home Stretch
CBS is virtually done with its upfront sales. The most-watched network’s haul is expected to be close to last year’s $2.5 billion-$2.7 billion. The network scored high-single-digit CPM increases close to 10%. They are expected to be the highest among the Big Four broadcast networks this year at an upfront marketplace that has not been as strong as last year when CBS again led the pack with 13%-15% CPM bumps. Probably because of that, CBS opted to sell slightly less inventory, about 77%-78%, this year than it did last year when 80% of its available ad time was sold upfront.
Related: The CW Wraps Up Upfront Sales As Others Head Into Home Stretch
The youth-oriented network was able to raise its cost-per-thousand (CPM) price by about 7% and sold about 75% of its inventory, I’m told. Retailers and mobile phone companies were especially eager to buy time. No dollar figures yet, but it should be pretty easy to calculate soon: CW racked up about $410M in commitments last year and typically accounts for about 5% of the upfront marketplace for the major English-language broadcasters. The results aren’t as robust as last year. CW’s unit prices were up about 11% and sold close to 80% of its inventory at a time when advertisers were eager to buy as the economy pulled out of the recession. But CW’s latest results aren’t bad considering that its ratings were down about 20% in the 2011-2012 season, and this year included upfront pitches from Internet video providers as well as traditional TV. While the results are still sketchy, they suggest that CW successfully managed its effort to fold online and mobile ad inventory in with traditional television. The network increased its commercial load this year with the introduction of its apps for Apple and Android mobile devices.
Related: Broadcast TV Unit Ad Prices Slipped Slightly In Q1: Report
As for the other networks, I hear negotiations should wrap up by the end of next week. Fox could close by the end of this week with CPMs up in the 8%-9% range, with help from auto companies and movie studios. ABC’s … Read More »
Broadcast ad sales executives hopefully got some rest during the Memorial Day holiday weekend because this coming weekend is expected to be a busy one for them. I hear that the upfront marketplace is now officially in session, with all five English-language broadcast networks making deals for a large portion of their ad time for next season. Expectations are that by Monday the first networks will be done selling out its upfront ad inventory, with adults 18-49 leader Fox, which once again kicked off the proceedings, likely to finish first. Analysts have predicted low- to mid-single-digit increases in ad pricing this year.
Related: TV Networks Will See Just Mid-Single Digit Growth In Upfront Ad Prices: Analyst
They could, Barclays Equity Research analyst Anthony DiClemente says in a report this morning. He still predicts that sales in television’s pre-season marketplace will rise — by 4.3% to $9.49B for the Big Four broadcast networks, and by 6.3% to $9.88B for cable channels. DiClemente says he’s encouraged to see consumers’ growing willingness to buy cars; auto makers account for about 20% of all TV ads. But this year’s increase in upfront sales will lag last year when the top broadcasters were up 7.9%, and spending on cable rose 16.1%. Some advertisers will hold back “to maintain some flexibility in case of macro choppiness” later this year — meaning, they’ll wait to see if they can get a bargain in the scatter market if the economy turns south. Meanwhile, Fox and NBC may sell less of their ad inventory in this year’s upfronts, hoping that their ratings will improve and give them more leverage in negotiations with advertisers. While everyone looks at total dollars networks collect in upfront deals, the more important barometer for their health is the CPM price they can charge for each 1,000 viewers they reach. DiClemente predicts that ABC will end up +8%, CBS will be +10%, Fox will be +9%, and NBC will be +7%.
Just like last year, top-rated network Fox is setting the pace at the upfront marketplace by making the first deals. With new offerings like Simon Cowell’s X Factor and the Steve Spielberg-produced dino adventure series Terra Nova, I hear Fox is commanding CPM increases in the low double-digit range, said to about 10.5-11%. That is higher than the increases of about 8.5-9% the network landed at last year’s upfront market. While Fox is taking a jump on the Memorial Day weekend, word is that the network will probably wrap its sales next week. The rest of the networks are also in active negotiations with ad agencies. Earlier this month, Barclays Capital analyst Anthony DiClemente predicted that advertisers will commit about $9.2 billion in upfront buys at ABC, CBS, Fox, and NBC for next season. That’s up 7.5% vs. last year and will beat 2008’s record $8.8 billion.
TNT & TBS Upfront News: ‘Closer’ Spinoff, ‘Wedding Band’, ‘Wedding Band’ Picked Up To Series, ‘Conan’ To Hit The Road, Development Slates Announced
UPDATE, 8:35 AM: Turner executives’ nightmare is over. Koonin returned to the stage to tell advertisers that TNT and TBS plan a major campaign to appeal to viewers who want to watch shows on mobile devices. The networks will advertise that they offer “drama on demand” and “comedy on demand.” Koonin paraphrased crooner Richard Marks: “Wherever you go, whatever you do, TBS and TNT will be there waiting for you.”
PREVIOUS, 8:20 AM: Video came back about 15 minutes ago and appears to be OK. Whatever happens, the technical woes gave Conan O’Brien more ammo for a routine that took several jabs at Turner Entertainment. When the breakdown ruined one of his gags, he said, “You know I love working at TBS — the commitment to detail.” After a stagehand told him to skip the routine with the clip, he added: ”Alright, I guess I’ll do what I’m told. Beggers can’t be choosers.” Earlier he said, “I did this upfront last year. Frankly, I don’t know why TBS doesn’t do what it does best and run it again -– four freaking times.” Also: “We’re already No. 1 in TBS’ key demographic: People who can’t afford HBO.” Read More »
NBC is developing a prime-time newsmagazine series with NBC Nightly News anchor Brian Williams as host, according to a published report, and it could be announced as early as Monday during the network’s upfront presentation in New York. The Wall Street Journal reported that the show could air as soon as the fall as NBC tries to dig out of its prime-time woes. The report also said other NBC News personalities, including Today host Meredith Vieira, are expected to contribute.
BET Networks is set to unveil its full lineup, which we told you about over the weekend, during its upfront presentation today in New York. Here’s the network’s release in advance of the event:
NEW YORK – April 20, 2011 – Coming off of the success of its best year ever in 2010 and best quarter ever for 1Q’11, BET Networks announced that it will unveil a brand new slate of programming for BET and CENTRIC at its 2011 Upfront presentation at the Best Buy Theater in New York. During the event, BET plans to announce that it will continue its focus on original scripted content with a new sitcom, REED BETWEEN THE LINES, starring Tracee Ellis Ross and Malcolm-Jamal Warner. The Network will also unveil new scripted web originals, LENOX AVENUE and THE COME UP, and also its first ever sci-fi thriller web series, ODESSA and ASYLUM, all of which will run across all BET Digital platforms—BET.com, BET Mobile and BET On Demand. BET will also announce another season of THE GAME and a second season of LET’S STAY TOGETHER. In addition to scripted programming, BET will also introduce a new music docu-series, THE MESSAGE, which is a four part series about the music, the culture and the message of hip-hop. The Network will also bring back a number of its popular returning series and tent poles including BLACK GIRLS ROCK!, SUNDAY BEST and the BET AWARDS ‘11.
“This is the year that our audience, advertisers and partners have
… Read More »
Discovery Communications’ networks will hold their upfront presentation in New York this afternoon. Here is the new programming they will be announcing. (The slate for OWN’s, Discovery’s co-venture with Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo, was announced separately.) Flagship Discovery Channel is adding four new unscripted series to its lineup, including Penn & Teller’s Secrets of the Universe. TLC has picked up new spinoffs of its Say Yes to the Dress franchise. New series also include the previously announced Homecoming, hosted by Billy Ray Cyrus, and I Kid, starring Brad Garrett. TLC also has acquired the U.K. series Big Fat Gypsy Wedding and will develop an American version. Animal Planet will add 14 new series to its lineup, including Romance is Dead, about a family running a taxidermy shop in Romance, Ark., and my personal favorite, Ned Bruha: Skunk Whisperer. On the heels of its recent facelift, Science announced a second season of Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant’s An Idiot Abroad, An Idiot Abroad: The Bucket List. Here are descriptions of the new programs by network: Read More »