Now that upfronts are over and most of the bigger decisions have been made we have a much clearer sense of the direction each network plans to take. Over at The Hollywood Reporter they broke down network by network the types of shows each one focused on and what that could mean for the future of television. You can head over there for the entire rundown but I've gone over the numbers and will talk about what I think are some of the bigger and more important points.
Scripted Series Success: The number of series that are scripted went from 37 from last year to 52. Some of that has to do with networks pushing for a year round program and the fact that so many shows from last year just didn't carry over. It is nice to see reality programming not completely taking over despite the success of shows like The Voice.
Freshman Failure: Of those 37 new shows ordered last year, 26 have since been cancelled. A lot of those failures land on the shoulders of ABC and NBC who see 2 out of 10 and 2 out of 12 returning shows respectively. It's sad to see these shows not given more than a single season chance to establish an audience and create itself some buzz. I always recall back to the story of Seinfeld which did pretty bad it's first season but fought on until finding it's niche and becoming an overall success. I suspect networks expect some shows to have a Community like following or become an overnight success.
Scheduling Changes Abound: It might not sound like a lot but 14 scheduling moves mean your TV guide won't look the same this time next year. NBC only really kept The Voice in it's spot moving Parks and Rec up to 8pm on Thursdays and Parenthood to 10pm on the same night taking Hannibal's, which still hasn't been renewed nor cancelled, time slot. ABC downgraded Dancing with the Stars to one time slot which allows Agents of SHIELD to have the 8pm Tuesday spot. CBS is throwing dramas to other nights while trying to form a strong comedy Thursday night.
The overall takeaway isn't one of desperation but more a sense of trying hard to find a footing, with anything. CBS seems very comfortable with itself, despite a continuing "old person's network" image, renewing the most shows and shifting a focus on comedy in hopes of retaining the recent ratings achievement of the prime demographic, 18-25 year olds. ABC also seems rather pleased with itself in terms of both incoming freshman shows and their viewership. Fox is possibly the most quiet of the networks, confidently keeping it's schedule almost exactly the same and calmly replacing the shows they feel they need to. And then there is NBC who are either in full panic mood and pretending to know what they're doing, or pretending to be in full panic mood and who know what they're doing. Who knows, maybe by next year all TV will be playing on our Google glasses and none of this will matter.