Fox, which kicked off this year’s upfront dealmaking as it had in the past few years, is essentially done with its upfront ad sales. In a tough marketplace, the network has been able to secure CPM increases in the 5%-7% range. Its total volume was down 10% from last year’s just under $2 billion, which is understandable given the network’s ratings declines. Fox sold about 80% of its ad inventory, about flat with last year.
First off, congratulations to all writers, producers, actors and agents who landed new series this week. I know it wasn’t easy. Here is Deadline’s annual list of those who excelled at the upfronts. I tried to be inclusive, but if I’ve missed anyone who’s had a banner week, let me know. I’ve also compiled a list of pods and independent producers with multiple broadcast series.
Cougar Town co-creator Bill Lawrence and his Doozer banner had three new series unveiled at the upfronts this week: comedies Undateable on NBC, Surviving Jack on Fox and Ground Floor on TBS. Also, TBS recently renewed Cougar Town for a fifth season.
J.J. Abrams‘ Bad Robot claimed one of the top new drama series last season with NBC’s Revolution and one of the hottest sophomore shows with CBS’ Person Of Interest. The company is keeping the momentum with two new series orders for next season: Almost Human at Fox and Believe at NBC.
Independent producer Aaron Kaplan of Kapital Entertainment received two new series orders from the broadcast networks: Back In The Game at ABC and Friends With Better Lives at CBS. Additionally, his freshman ABC comedy The Neighbors was renewed and his ABC pilot Bad Management is in serious contention for a series pickup. Kaplan also received two cable series orders in the past month, for Chasing Life on ABC Family and Instant Mom on NickMom, and also has comedy series Wendell & Vinnie on Nick at Nite and pilot HR at Lifetime.
Writer-producer Julie Plec also landed two new series this week, both at the CW: She wrote/executive produces the planted Vampire Diaries spinoff The Originals and executive produces The Tomorrow People. Additionally, she executive produces TVD, giving her three series on the air next season. (Fellow Tomorrow People executive producer Greg Berlanti has two, including returning CW hit Arrow.)
This is a — and possibly “the” — key question for Big Media investors coming out of the major broadcast and cable networks’ upfront programming presentations this week. As the sales pitches wore on it became clear that execs plan to spare no expense to recover from a year of dreary ratings. There’ll be 25 new programs on the Big Four networks, up from 18 planned this time last year. What’s more, “all of the broadcast networks are moving toward year-round original schedules, less re-runs [and] more frequent ‘mini-events’,” Bernstein Research’s Todd Juenger says. He adds that networks continue to depend on star power — for example CBS landed Robin Williams for its sitcom The Crazy Ones and Turner enlisted off-camera help from Michael Bay (Transformers), Dick Wolf (Law & Order), Howard Gordon (Homeland), Frank Darabont (The Walking Dead), and Jerry Bruckheimer (CSI). “These guys don’t come cheap, and we presume they must participate significantly in the back-end,” Juenger says. Execs no doubt feel confident that their bets will pay off. For example, hit dramas could play well in international syndication. Mini-series also should appeal to streaming services including Netflix and Amazon where subscribers like to binge view.
But domestic advertisers still provide lions’ share of revenues for TV shows. And if networks are optimistic about that market, it has as much to do with whether they believe consumers will buy lots of cars as with the merits of what programmers put on the screen. “Auto represents about 13% of annual TV ad spend and is seen as a pivotal player in this year’s upfront,” says Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible. That may be good news for the networks: Car companies appear to be headed for a big year as the economy improves and consumers take advantage of today’s low interest rates. As a result, Wible says “the tone of the upfront was more in favor of the sellers than we had anticipated” — leading him to forecast “substantial CPM [unit cost] increases that will offset recent ratings losses.” UBS Investment Research’s John Janedis forecasts that cable CPMs will be up as much as 7% with the major broadcasters “slightly better,” although some advertisers will just shift dollars for late this year from the scatter market to the upfront “which will make the total dollars look a little better.”
Tuesday 8 PM: This is shaping out to be the biggest fall battleground, especially for male viewers. The Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. on ABC are going against the agents of NCIS on CBS. Also joining the fray is another younger-skewing new genre drama series, the CW’s Vampire Diaries spinoff The Originals. Fox has new male-centered comedies Dads and Brooklyn Nine-Nine. All these shows (or those who survive) will have to go against the biggest broadcast reality show at the moment, NBC’s The Voice, in midseason. Will anyone blink?
Related: Tuesday “Comedy Sigalert” Back
Thursday 9 PM: Robin Williams vs. Sean Hayes. The comedy vets are returning with new series (Williams in CBS’ The Crazy Ones, Hayes in NBC’s Sean Saves The World) and will face off in one of TV’s highest-profile slots. In another male comedy star showdown, Michael J Fox will take on Ashton Kutcher and Jon Cryer at 9:30 PM.
CW New Series First Looks: ‘The 100′, ‘The Originals’, ‘Reign’, ‘Star-Crossed’, ‘The Tomorrow People’ – Video
The 100 — Midseason Drama (clip)
Produced by Bonanza Productions Inc in association with Alloy Entertainment, Warner Bros Television and CBS Television Studios. From executive producers Matthew Miller, Jason Rothenberg, Leslie Morgenstein and Gina Girolamo and director/executive producer Bharat Nalluri:
The Originals — Drama
Produced by Warner Bros Television, CBS Television Studios, Bonanza Productions Inc. in association with My So-Called Company and Alloy Entertainment. From writer/executive producer Julie Plec and executive producers Leslie Morgenstein and Gina Girolamo:
The CW gets points for originality. After three days of marathon presentations, it’s hard to surprise weary upfront goers. But the network found a way to cheer them up when everyone’s attendance bracelets lit up and began to pulsate to the dance music of presentation’s opening act, Swedish DJ duo Icona Pop (and the following music intros).
CW president Mark Pedowitz doubles as a couples counselor today, walking onstage hand in hand with recently broken up Vampire Diaries stars Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder. “Last year, I told you this would be a transformative season at the CW and it has been,” Pedowitz says.
Related: CW Expands Streaming To Apple TV
The CW’s new Wednesday lineup of Arrow and newbie The Tomorrow People is showcased as an Amell family affair as the two series star cousins Stephen and Robbie Amell, respectively. The Amells come out to show off their shared good-looks genes and a childhood photo that draws a big “awww” from the audience. Also on hand is the star of new teenage Mary Queen of Scots costume drama Reign, Adelaide Kane, who felt a little awkward walking onstage in full regal attire. The trailer was well received though.
Related: CW New Series First Looks: Video
Comedy is expected to take center stage at USA Network‘s upfront presentation this afternoon as the cable network touts to advertisers the fall launch of its big off-network acquisition, Modern Family, and unveils its newly picked up original comedy series Sirens and Playing House. The cable network has been getting extra attention from comedy fans in the past week following ABC’s decision last Friday to cancel cult series Happy Endings. Talks between USA and leading Happy Endings producer Sony TV continue. At this point, I hear a pickup appears unlikely but the network is carefully exploring the opportunity to migrate a show with some success on broadcast TV and a dedicated fan base the way ABC’s Cougar Town moved to TBS.
Of its three comedy pilot/presentations it had in consideration, USA picked up two, Sirens and Playing House. The third, Paging Dr. Freed, which was the first one ordered almost two years ago, is still in contention. I hear USA brass liked the pilot for the family medical comedy but thought it felt more like a season finale and didn’t properly introduce the characters. I hear the network approached Paging Dr. Freed creator Michael Feldman and studio Fox 21 about redeveloping the project and writing a new pilot script. If USA likes the new script, I hear it is intent on picking up the project straight to series. The options on the Paging Dr. Freed producers have been extended while those on the cast have lapsed. I hear USA is keen on bringing Annie Potts back if she is available. (Her ABC pilot Murder In Manhattan did not get picked up but is being considered by cable networks.)
CW 2013-14 Schedule: ‘Hart Of Dixie’ & ‘Beauty And The Beast’ Move To Monday, ‘Supernatural’ To Tuesday, ‘Carrie Diaries’ To Friday, ‘Reign’ To Follow ‘Vampire Diaries’
The CW schedule features far more sweeping changes than any network this year. Like last fall, the CW is introducing three new series this fall — The Vampire Diaries spinoff The Originals, costume drama Reign and sci-fi drama The Tomorrow People — with three more series — dramas The 100; Star-Crossed; and reality show Famous In 12, from the TMZ team — on tap for midseason. For a second year in a row, the CW will hold its fall launches until October to avoid the blitz of new shows and allow for more uninterrupted originals. Here is the schedule, followed by analysis and descriptions of the CW’s new series:
Related: CW New Series First Looks: Video
CW FALL 2013-2014 SCHEDULE
(New programs in UPPER CASE; NN=New Night)
8-9 PM – Hart Of Dixie (NN)
9-10 PM – Beauty And The Beast (NN)
8-9 PM – THE ORIGINALS
9-10 PM – Supernatural (NN)
8-9 PM – Arrow
9-10 PM – THE TOMORROW PEOPLE
8-9 PM – The Vampire Diaries
9-10 PM – REIGN
8-9 PM – The Carrie Diaries (NN)
9-10 PM – America’s Next Top Model
The CW is shaking up its schedule big time, with changes on every night. In all, only the network’s two top series, The Vampire Diaries and Arrow, are staying put. They are being used to launch two of the CW’s highest-profile new series, the Mary, Queen of Scots drama Reign and the Greg Berlanti-Julie Plec produced futuristic The Tomorrow People. CW brass has high hopes for female-centered reign, so it opted to launch the series behind the network’s series with the highest concentration of female viewers, Vampire Diaries.
CBS New Series Previews Update: ‘The Millers’, ‘The Crazy Ones’, ‘Hostages’, ‘Intelligence’, ‘Mom’, ‘We Are Men’ – Video
CBS has unveiled the first looks at its new fall series as its upfront presentation got underway today in NY, with Robin Williams of David E Kelley’s The Crazy Ones among the participants. The network announced its fall and midseason schedules earlier in the day. Still AWOL: the Will Arnett comedy The Millers, so check back. (UPDATE: The Millers has been posted.)
The Millers – Comedy
Produced by CBS TV Studios. From executive producer Greg Garcia:
The Crazy Ones — Comedy
Produced by 20th Century Fox Television. From executive producers David E. Kelley, Bill D’Elia, Dean Lorey, John Montgomery and Mark Teitelbaum and director/executive producer Jason Winer:
Here’s something that surprised and impressed me in the wash of predictable upfront week announcements: National CineMedia‘s sales arm showed advertisers how a single pre-movie commercial can present different video images to different viewers. …
The CBS chief and his colleagues introduced their upfront sales pitches to advertisers today by taking a victory lap — a contrast to other networks’ efforts this week to promote their digital initiatives. …
David Letterman is well known for shunning public events like CBS’ upfront. But in the midst of big late-night changes at NBC and ABC, the veteran late-night host showed up at the CBS presentation for the first time in 15 years. CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves broached the subject. “What’s going on out there in late-night? All of a sudden, everybody’s got a Jimmy: they have a Jimmy, they have a Jimmy,” referring to NBC’s and ABC’s new 11:30 PM hosts Jimmy Fallon and Jimmy Kimmel, respectively. “We thought we don’t have a Jimmy. Jimmy Buffet is too tropical, Jimmy Carter too political, Jimmy Hoffa not available. There are a lot of Jimmys out there but there is only one Dave, David Letterman.” Letterman walked out to a thunderous applause and engaged in a looong hug with Moonves. “I’m honored to be here for your pledge drive,” Letterman quipped, proceeding to make fun of CBS head of sales Joanne Ross’ projection dress. “Everyone here is very excited to see me, they think I’m Bob Schieffer. When Leslie invited me here, I thought I was being fired.”
Related: CBS 2013-14 Schedule
The CBS upfront presentation today calls for a drinking game: How many times we’ll hear from the stage that CBS is No. 1? First off hammering out the message is the network’s head of sales Jo Ann Ross, who re-created Carrie Underwood’s infamous Grammy dress with messages touting CBS’ success and urging advertisers to buy projected on the bottom of her ball gown.
Related: CBS New Series Previews: Video
A pre-taped “One Year More” musical number featuring the cast of How I Met Your Mother transitioned onstage, featuring the quintet of actors, joined by a group of everyday folk carrying the departing show’s signature yellow umbrellas. Says CBS Corp CEO Les Moonves, “I’d like to see the cast of The Walking Dead do that.”
Moonves touted CBS’ ratings dominance this season in all sorts of ways, including in a form of a tweet: “Message easy. CBS wins everything. #dropthemic.”
The highlight of the presentation so far is the surprise appearance by David Letterman.
Touting the success of CBS’ drama series, Moonves said, “the place for drama is in primetime not at 7 AM the morning and 11:30 at night,” while images of Ann Curry’s tearful farewell on Today and of Jimmy Fallon and Jay Leno flashed behind him.
Related: CBS 2013-14 Schedule
Turner Entertainment seems to try hardest to make advertisers laugh at its upfront presentation — and generally succeeded this time with help from Will Ferrell, Conan O’Brien, and TBS newcomer Pete Holmes. In a recorded routine, Ferrell said that he had bought the company and with his background in comedy “I couldn’t care less” about networks including CNN, TNT, and TruTv. Since “I like to mess around with my new toys,” he introduced the new boss: Charles Barkley. The former NBA star said that since “I’m in charge now” viewers would be “seeing a lot more Charles Barkley” — cutting to clips from Turner shows that insert him into the action. “This is the kind of bold thinking I was hoping for,” Ferrell said. “With me as CEO of Turner, and Charles, can you really go wrong?”