This is my NFL Draft. The Upfront Season allows each network the opportunity to boast a collection of new shows that only exist because plenty didn’t work last year. NBC and Fox both had their share of hits and misses, but both lack the immediate brand recognition of ABC or CBS. That said lets take a look at both nets.
NBC is going to win the 18-49 ratings war AGAIN. I can’t believe it, but they are. They have The Voice, which is still steady, The Blacklist, and the Chicago franchise with is a moderate success. They have little else. But they won (oh yea they had the Super Bowl). They have proven however, that they have no idea what they are doing on the comedy side of things and almost every new show they premiered, was largely ignored.
Canceled Shows: A to Z, Bad Judge, Marry Me, Mission Control (before it premiered), One Big Happy, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (canceled and moved to Netflix where it is a success), Allegiance (probably), Constantine, State of Affairs, About a Boy.
New Shows: Mr. Robinson, Aquarius, Heroes Reborn, Blindspot, The Player, Coach, Heartbreaker, Best Time Ever with NPH, Chicago Med, People Are Talking, Crowded, Hot & Bothered, Superstore, You Me and the End of the World, Game of Silence, Shades of Blue
NBC is yet again, ordering a whole mess of shows that don’t really have a through-line of consistency. There are action dramas, lady doc shows, extremely broad comedies, and single camera comedies that would feel more at home on Fox. They also have a variety show, because they keep trying to make variety shows a thing. I think NBC would be smart to keep trying to find shows that fit the Blacklist mold. That said Blindspot and The Player feel so tonally similar (including former Strikeback castmembers), that one of these shows SHOULD make it. However, the bigger issue at hand for NBC is finding shows for any night without The Voice. The Blacklist has shed a bit since moving to Shonda’s night, so they may see some diminishing returns with it new entries. Also Undateable going live each week, is such a stunt that it’s probably not even worth it. The Wiz Live will do well however. The live stunt musical is paying off.
If I had to guess what is going to work: I would say either The Player or Blindspot. Both seem Blacklistian. Chicago Med just furthers the recognition of Fire and P.D, so it’ll probably do a nice 1.8 or 2.0 each week in a 10pm slot. Shades of Blue may work because it’s got J.Lo and people like her.
What isn’t going to work: Every other comedy they ordered. They all sound like throwbacks from the WB era of TV (Crowded and People are Talking). Coach is such a dead IP that I can’t for the life of me understand who they are going for that one. My dad used to love Coach, but he’s 60 now…Superstore and End of the World, sound smart, but that is not what NBC goes for anymore apparently, so neither will make it. Best Time Ever also is probably better served as a holiday season show. I get that live programming pulls people in because it is DVR proof, but that much NPH is probably too much.
Despite a success that hasn’t been seen in years in the 18-49 demo, Fox somehow ended this year worse than last year and fell to 4th place. A lot of that is due to American Idol no longer connecting with the base of americans, but it also has to do with the fact that they have no traction on Tuesdays or Thursday nights. You can’t be a non-starter on two nights completely. Empire and Gotham got people talking, but you need more than that.
Canceled Shows: Backstrom, The Following, Glee, Gracepoint, Hieroglyph (canceled before premiere wisely), The Mindy Project (may get a reprieve elsewhere), Mulaney, Red Band Society, Utopia.
New Shows: Minority Report, Rosewood, The Frankenstein Code, Lucifer, Scream Queens, The X-Files (limited), Grandfathered, The Grinder, The Guide To Surviving Life, Bordertown.
Sure Fox fell the furthest in ratings, but they also have the best shot at a serious surge next year. Empire almost singlehandedly changed the face of network television. It crushed everything, got to Walking Dead numbers, and it was full of black people.