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Television

Broadcast TV Continues to Slowly Move Along

Welcome back to the first entry of Seher Says in a long time. For obvious reasons, broadcast TV (and all of TV) has been a hot mess so I didn’t have much to add about any of it beyond my usual Upfront coverage.

Things are still pretty weird, and the Big 4 and The CW have settled into what seems to be their new way forward. The last week of September is no longer the broadcast “premiere week”. Now it’s just premieres whenever the network schedulers think will work best.

Of course, the Premiere Week was all about new car advertising (and also why the 18-49 rating exists at all, no thanks to ABC) so it’s not that the change is necessarily bad. Now with delays in filming, anything seems to go. However, it is confusing for casual viewers (that is anyone who isn’t glued to schedules).

With only 11 fall premieres, there really isn’t much to talk in terms of the actual content on the shows. La Brea and 4400 share a common thread of timey wimey nonsense, though.

There’s not even any recancellations to respond to! In fact, it’s unclear if anything will get recancelled this year at all. The CW especially has leaned into “year-round” scheduling, which really just means stuff airs all the time and no one knows actually knows when anything is on at night.

I still think Legends of Tomorrow is on its way out, but have zero predictions otherwise for the network that likes to give me headaches. I also expect CBS to cancel at least one if not more dramas, if only to make more room for Dick Wolf, who must be stopped!

Well, what about ratings Seher? That’s usually entertaining, right?

Yah…no. Nothing on broadcast that’s scripted has hit 1.0 or above, at least not for same day. Who knows what’s going on in C3 and C7 land. You can take a look at how the currently airing shows have done in the demo here and note that for the most part, the shows doing the best are the oldest on their respective networks.

We all know that the procedurals and Grey’s Anatomy of the world do well on Netflix and streaming once the seasons end, but Netflix might not want to keep footing the bill…

Honestly, the most engaging thing worth talking about is very much up in the air. The WarnerDisco merger (I refuse to call them their real name Warner Bros. Discovery, because it’s not good) actually might shake things up a bit, even though that might take time. Specifically because Zaslov, the new CEO of the merged company has little scripted experience.

I doubt he will change things up a ton and just keep everyone around who does make the scripted WB shows happen (most of The CW and the CBS comedies). However, if we don’t get a CW-esque home decor show by 23-24, well then they’re just cowards.

Broadcast Zombies

In all seriousness, the networks and studios are obviously going to keep acting like broadcast TV hasn’t really changed because it’s easier to do what’s been done then really innovate. In some ways I admire The CW for leaning into the truth that all they exist for is to get eyes on their shows before they end up on HBO Max.

If the Big 4 actively curated their pilots for shows that would do well on the streamers, then they’d probably create a few each year that did well in linear as well. In fact, very few people expected Ghosts on CBS or La Brea on NBC to have as high linear ratings as they do.

La Brea, which takes place in two different time zones, is the highest rated new series and fourth highest on NBC. On the other hand, Ghosts is a comedy not from Chuck Lorre and has managed to hold onto most of its demo throughout its five episodes aired thus far.

Ultimately I think that broadcast TV is reaching a point of no return where studios and networks must innovate or accept that except for the shows doing super well on Netflix and elsewhere, they’re going to have very limited returns on their investments. This is especially because ultimately all of the various streamers will end up either collapsing into one another, or lose a lot of subscribers as people settle on which ones are worth it to their wallets. Just look at the churn through July of this year!

I expect much more exciting news to cover in the spring not only due to the Upfront shenanigans, but because we will know what isn’t making it back for the new amorphous timeline that is a TV season and more WarnerDisco news!

Until then, please watch La Brea for the prehistoric everything and time travel, because why not!


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Author

  • Seher is the Associate Editor-in-Chief at The Fandomentals focusing on the ins and outs of TV, media representation, games, and other topics as they pique her interest. Otherwise, she's reading away for graduate school. pc: @poika_

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