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Television

Intellectual Property in Broadcast Series Orders

In the upcoming broadcast television year, 34% of the new series orders are based on already existing intellectual property! Where last year was the year of reboots, this year’s focus is entirely on adaptations of existing properties with (hopefully) built in audiences. We’ve got adaptations of books and comics, spin-offs, remakes of shows from other countries, and two shows based on real life experiences. Broadcast networks continue to focus on easily marketable properties with hopes that built-in audiences will flock to the new offerings. I’m not a fortune teller and broadcast is truly chaotic recently but I’m still going to predict what shows will generally survive and of course talk about the shows themselves!

Unfortunately, as we know, the audience just doesn’t show up for live TV (ads) anymore which is likely why all the reboots are in the TV pilot graveyard. Of the twelve newbies this year (listed below), FOX has one among ten series orders. ABC has the most with four of six orders, NBC has two of eight orders, and CBS has just one spin-off in its eight pickups. The CW only ordered familiar products so all three of their newbies are properties the audience knows and loves.

ABC Stumptown Fall Comic
ABC Mixed-ish Fall Spin-off
ABC The Baker and The Beauty Midseason Remake
ABC For Life Midseason Real Story
CBS FBI: Most Wanted Midseason Spin-off
CW Batwoman Fall Comic
CW Nancy Drew Fall Book
CW Katy Keenes Midseason Comic/Spin-off
FOX Almost Family Fall Remake
NBC Council of Dads Midseason Real Story
NBC Lincoln Midseason Book/Film
Seasonality

Using last year’s data doesn’t make for entirely confident predictions but they do provide a baseline of expectations. For example, I’m assuming the fall premieres all have a high likelihood of receiving renewals but one or more may receive a cancellation because in May every network but The CW cancelled a fall rookie. None of the networks finished out the scripted season with higher than a .9 in the demo. Neither did the intellectual property newbies. So if it’s a fall intellectual property with a season average at or above the network average, I feel safe claiming it’s probably coming back in 2020.  If it’s a spring premiere not on The CW, well good luck. Of the four midseason shows renewed, Schooled is a spin-off and Roswell New Mexico, a reboot. The fall survivors are Legacies (spin-off), Charmed and Magnum PI (both reboots).

A comedy, two dramas, a supernatural procedural style drama, and procedural then all made the cut to this season. As expected, the IP series this year fit into the procedural or relationship focused series buckets as well.

Series Premises

To be fair, all shows are about relationships so it’s not a very distinctive bucket, but networks generally bank on usually steady performing procedurals and series about a lead and all the relationships they find themselves navigating. People watch characters, not flashy locations, time periods, or other gimmicks and the networks want audiences who already know the content to show up for the TV try.

Both shows about real people are heart-string-tuggers. For Life on ABC inspired by the life of Isaac Wright Jr. (Nicholas Pinnock), a wrongly convicted man who started practicing law and his relationship with a progressive warden (Indira Varma) is both a law procedural and family drama with a focus on the family he left behind when wrongly imprisoned. On the flip side, Council of Dads is based on Bruce Feller’s memoir about pulling together a council of dads for his daughters in case he did not survive his cancer diagnosis. The latter is NBC’s umpteenth attempt at a This is Us followup. Both are midseason entries so good luck to both! If the latter shows up before May, it might survive to the fall 2020.

Spin-offs

Elsewhere, the three spin-offs in this year’s are on three networks. ABC”s Mixed-ish is a prequel to Grown-ish and its replacement for The Kids Are Alright. Next year though, Modern Family (renanceled) and probably Fresh off the Boat are on their way out, so if the show doesn’t do well…expect way more comedy pickups next May. CBS’ FBI: Most Wanted is peak procedural CBS and the next entry in the CBS Dick Wolf world and gets my one Big 4 mid-season renewal card. Plus Wolf wants a NBC/CBS cross-over so if anyone can make it happen, it’s him.

It’s also the only drama that I foresee sampling well even in the spring. All Rise and Evil both look good, but the former is women led and the latter seems more primed for CBS All Access so who knows how the CBS audience will take them both. Finally, mid-season drama entry Katy Keene on The CW is a spin-off from Riverdale and probably survives just because The CW needs shows to sell to other streamers. Although Lucy Hale has terrible luck and her last CW show died, but I do think that Katy has better chances.

Print Media

Both book adaptations are also dramas and dark(er) ones at that with the third attempt for Nancy Drew landing on The CW with a slight supernatural bent, making it a spiritual cousin to Riverdale. On NBC, Ironside 2.0 is Lincoln, based off The Bone Collector series and movie. This list so far just has a lot of emotional stories and crime solving shenanigans except for Mixed-ish which makes me wonder just how many fall premieres will sample well.

Similarly comic adaptations Batwoman about…Batwoman and Stumptown about a bisexual PI Dex are grittier series for both The CW and ABC. Neither trailer did anything for me and I’m not entirely convinced by the leads. But for the next DCTV show, The CW picked a good option, and ABC’s new entertainment bosses hated their pilots, so Stumptown isn’t the worst pickup. Hopefully Dex’ bisexuality is addressed in the show because neither the trailer nor any press releases have mentioned it which is frustrating.

Finally we’ve got our remakes!

Remakes

ABC’s offer this year is The Baker and The Beauty, a romantic drama about a baker who falls in love with a celebrity. The original from Israel has performed well so we’ll see how it does in the midseason here. On FOX, Sisters turned Not Just Me turned Almost Family has as many sisters as titles. They find out that they’re sisters when their biological father is accosted at a dinner. He’s been using his own sperm at his fertility clinic! Cue drama. This is a remake of an Australian series. ABC’s Kelly Burke mentioned she wants to bring women back to the network and from a superficial standpoint TBTB should do that, except it’s slated for midseason. Welp.

Then there’s FOX…who got rid of half of its shows to make room for WWE and newly co-owned shows. A fall perch shows faith in the series, but I’m not sure it fits with what’s currently on the network. Scheduling is why Filthy Rich isn’t airing after Empire and I know they’re using Masked Singer to launch Almost Family, but I have no idea if the viewers will stick around. We’ll know the last week of September.

Of all the intellectual property series picked up this year, I think The CW has the likeliest successes (for their metrics) and then I’m stumped. Defining a newbie’s success is hard when the overall demo is so depleted, but if a show can hove above a .9 then it’s probably doing great! Or if it’s one of the handful of newbies to average out above the network’s average like last year. That’s just for ratings. No way to tell if any of these series are actually good until they premiere, but I sure hope some of them are! Or it’s another year of half renewed, half cancelled newbies in May and disappointing shows in general.

I’ll adjust my predictions based on the fall newbies premieres in September and October and again next May before Upfronts. Until then, we’ve got SDCC and the TCAs to look forward to.


Image courtesy of The CW

Seher
Written By

Seher obsesses over show ratings and usually writes about media representation issues. Otherwise, she's reading away for her graduate program in anthropology.

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