Fall Cable Preview

Fall Cable Preview

The Big Four may grab the loudest headlines come fall TV season, but there’s no shortage of action on cable, too. From monster launches like Fear the Walking Dead on AMC to niche pleasures like Fuse’s Fluffy Breaks Even, viewers have a cornucopia of choices. While the business of broadcast is to serve as, well, broad an audience as possible, the beauty of cable is that nets cater to more targeted audiences - and there’s something on the menu for every taste.

Still, while cable cravings may vary from edgy HBO to wholesome Hallmark, there is a connecting thread: authenticity. “We’re seeing a big trend in a thirst for authenticity,” says Ross Babbit, SVP, Programming and Development, Travel Channel. “Our viewers want to see real people they can relate to and connect with in an authentic way. For Travel Channel, that means talent like Andrew Zimmern, Josh Gates, and Jack Maxwell... they are fun and passionate and curious about the world, whether the camera is on them or not.”

Allison Page, GM of HGTV, DIY and Great American Country, would agree. “We’ve always followed real, relatable stories and now we’re exploring ways to get even more intimate and authentic with the everyday people who are at the core of our shows - more self-shot footage, breaking the fourth wall, etc.,” says Page. “Across the unscripted landscape, we see viewers engaging with content that is intimate, honest and unscripted. They are understanding and even appreciative of imperfections and slipups because those are real. If Flip or Flop was just ‘Flip,’ it wouldn’t resonate the same way, because viewers want real tension and stakes.”

LMN has capitalized on an increased interest in putting “the real back into reality” for women’s programming. “We are not just about great scripted films, but powerful and very real stories,” says Laura Fleury, SVP, Programming. “In the past year, we have introduced strong and highly engaging new series, such as Escaping Polygamy, I Love You… But I Lied and Monster In My Family.” The result? “Year-to-date, LMN is up in every day part versus a year ago among Women 25-54 and has claimed its youngest median age since 2006.”

Another trend: original programming. “STARZ has had great success in ramping up its original programming by identifying quality demo-targeted projects with mainstream appeal,” says the net. “We believe in super-serving subscribers traditionally underserved on cable television, and identifying properties with significant built-in fan bases.”

Over at Discovery, the net’s excited about “five nights of original programming starting September 28,” says Michael Greco, EVP of Programming and Research. “The highest rated unscripted show in cable, Gold Rush, returns October 16, and new series Pacific Warrior premieres after Gold Rush on October 23.”

But getting the word out about new programming in an increasingly crowded field has become a challenge. “There’s such a proliferation of original content that you need to do things to engage fans in a different way, to promote in a different way, and allow you to stand out and really provide a better value to fans who show up to watch your series week to week,” says Bill Abbott, President and CEO, Crown Media Family Networks, home of Hallmark Channel and Hallmark Movies and Mysteries. That’s why there will be a two-hour sneak peek of season two of Hallmark hit The Good Witch in October, ahead of the drama’s official February launch. Says Abbott, “From a service perspective and an engagement perspective, there is a lot going on.”

And that means being creative about content. “The reality of the original series is that the vast majority of viewing is picked up on a Live+3, Live+7 basis, and a lot of that is not monetized on the advertising side,” adds Abbott. “It is a dilemma that all programmers face, how we monetize our content. One of the ways is to produce additional original content that we can sell to the advertising market.”

Nets charting new territory include Azteca America, introducing fiction on Sunday night. “Escandalos is a new series with a unique format, where real life scandals that have shook the world are dramatized,” shares Margarita Black, VP of Programming for Azteca America. “The series is produced in Mexico, Panama, USA and Venezuela with amazing talent and great production value.” And The Africa Channel is launching a live, daily program from South Africa, Expresso, that will be “a signature series, giving viewers an entertaining look at lifestyle and culture from the African continent,” promises Narenda Reddy, SVP, programming and production.

Gena McCarthy, SVP, Programming & Development at FYI, boasts of “buzz-defining” trend-setters like Tiny House Nation and Married at First Sight. “About two years ago, we noticed a void in the lifestyle space,” notes McCarthy. “We knew we could break through in a totally different way.”

As television has shifted to a year-round schedule, the timing of cable launches in particular is often tied to programming themes. “Halloween triggers entertaining opportunities to celebrate in a big way with special series like Halloween Wars,” says Didi O’Hearn, SVP, Programming and Development for Food Network and Cooking Channel. And then there are the holidays. “November is when Food Network and Cooking Channel celebrate the most - the whole month is dedicated to all-star chefs and talent sharing tips and tricks for entertaining at the holidays,” says O’Hearn.

In fact, for some cable nets, the fall season is an entree into the holidays. ABC Family has its popular “25 Days of Christmas,” Ion and Up offer hefty holiday offerings and Hallmark has its “Countdown to Christmas,” to name just a few of the cable nets super-serving holiday fare. Hallmark’s Mariah Carey Christmas Project begins production next month.

And in many cases, as they latch on to their target audiences, the one-time “little nets that could” aren’t so little anymore. “Our success is breeding more success,” says Crown Media’s Bill Abbott, “and it’s attracting talent that is at the top of the landscape.”

And they’re off! The fall season is upon us – here’s a handy guide to help you keep track of what’s new (in bold) and what’s coming back.

The list was compiled from a call for submissions in the Cynopsis newsletter. If you have a change, please email Lynn@Cynopsis.com.


Thursday, September 24

Lifetime: Fashionably Late with Rachel Zoe at 10:30p

MTV: Are You the One at 11p

Friday, September 25

Lifetime: Step It Up at 10p

Nick: Blaze and the Monster Machine at 12p

Saturday, September 26

AXS TV: Nashville 8p

TVDISNEY XD: Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy at 9:30p

Reelz: Fame Kills at 8p, Behind the Screams at 9p

Sunday, September 27

PBS: Indian Summers at 9p

Monday, September 28

The Africa Channel: Expresso at 9a, Emerging at 7:30p, Diaries at 8p

Comedy Central: The Daily Show with Trevor Noah at 11p

PBS: I'll Have What Phil's Having at 10p

Travel: Bizarre Foods America at 9p, Booze Traveler at 10p

Tuesday, September 29

TruTV: Adam Ruins Everything at 10p

Wednesday, September 30

Fuse: Big Freedia: Queen of Bounce at 11p, Transcendent at 11:30p

Nicktoons: NASCAR Hammer Down at 9p


Thursday, October 1

Cooking: Sugar Showdown at 9p

Fuse: Fluffy Breaks Even at 10p,

IFC: Benders at 10p, Gigi Does It at 10:30p

Friday, October 2

Fuse: Skee TV at 10p

Great American Country: Garage Gold at 8p

TLC: Love at First Swipe at 9p, #WhatSheSaid at 10:30p

Lifetime: The Jacksons: Next Generation at 8p

TLC: Love at First Swipe at 9p

Saturday, October 3

Nat Geo Wild: Dr. K’S Exotic Animal ER at 9p

Sunday, October 4

Discovery: Alaska: The Last Frontier at 9p, Naked and Afraid at 10p

Food: Halloween Wars at 9p

Great American Country: Flea Market Flip at 8p

HBO: The Leftovers at 9p

Ovation TV: Art Breakers at 8p

Own: Super Soul Sunday at 7p

PBS: The Widower at 10p

Showtime: Homeland at 9p, The Affair at 10p

Travel: 50/50 at 7p

Monday, October 5

Food: Outrageous: Halloween at 8p, Halloween Baking Championship at 9p

Nickelodeon: WITS Academy at 7p

Smithsonian Channel: The Weapon Hunter at 8p

Tuesday, October 6

AHC: Facts vs. Fiction at 10:30p

Bravo: The People’s Couch at 10p

E!: Botched at 9p

MTV: Finding Carter at 10p

Wednesday, October 7

CNBC: Jay Leno's Garage at 10p

FX: American Horror Story: Hotel at 10p

Hulu: Casual

LMN: They Took Our Child: We Got Her Back at 9p

Travel: Expedition Unknown at 9p

VH1: VH1 Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn at 10p

Thursday, October 8

Crackle: SuperMansion

MTV: Ridiculousness at 10p, Broke Ass Game Show at 10:30p, The Middle of the Night Show at 11p

Syfy: Haven at 10p

TruTV: Funny or Die's Billy on the Street at 10:30p

Friday, October 9

Amazon: Red Oaks

Food: BBQ Blitz at 10:30p

Saturday, October 10

BBC America: The Last Kingdom at 10p

Sunday, October 11

AMC: The Walking Dead at 9pm, Talking Dead at 10:30p

Cooking: Unique Sweets at 10p

TLC: 90-Day Fiance at 10p

Monday, October 12

Azteca America: Escape Perfecto at 7p

FX: Fargo at 10p

Tuesday, October 13

The Africa Channel: Care for Color at 9p

Cooking: MasterChef Canada at 8p

FYI: Married at First Sight: The First Year at 9p

Great American Country: Living Alaska at 9p

WGN: Manhattan at 9p

Wednesday, October 14

AXS TV: Breaking Band at 9p, Profiles at 9:30p CHECK BAND 9

DirectTV: Kingdom at 9p

ID: True Nightmares at 10p

Thursday, October 15

Comedy Central: Nathan for You at 10p

FYI: Man vs Child: Chef Showdown at 9p, Late Nite Chef Fight at 10p

AXS TV: Rock Legends at 8p, Profiles at 9:30p Breaking Band at 9p

Friday, October 16

Cinemax: The Knick at 10p

Discovery: The Dirt at 8p, Gold Rush at 9p

Pivot: Please Like Me at 10p

USA: Satisfaction at 10p

Saturday, October 17

BET: According to Alex at 10p

Sunday, October 18

AMC: Comic Book Men at 12:30a

Ovation: Portrait Artist of the Year at 12p Own: Belief at 8p

Monday, October 19

Travel: Bizarre Foods at 9p

Tuesday, October 20

BET: Being Mary Jane at 9p, The Westbrooks at 10p

FYI: Arranged at 10p

Spike: Sweat Inc. at 10p

Wednesday, October 21

GSN: Hellevator at 8p

ID: Do Not Disturb: Hotel Horrors at 9p

VH1: Love at First Kiss at 11p

Thursday, October 22

Food: Chopped: Impossible at 8p

Saturday, October 24

Hallmark: The Good Witch at 9p (sneak preview)

Starz: Da Vinci's Demons at 8p

Sunday, October 25

Adult Swim: Robot Chicken

NatGeo: StarTalk at 11p

OWN: Oprah’s Master Class at 8p

Monday, October 26

MTV: Follow the Rules at 10p

Tuesday, October 27

Food: Chopped Jr. at 8p

Friday, October 30

Cooking: Sinful Sweets at 8:30p

Saturday, October 31

Starz: Ash vs. Evil Dead at 9p

SundanceTV: The Returned at 10p


Sunday, November 1

Food: Holiday Baking Championship at 9p

Nat Geo: Breakthrough at 9p

TNT: The Librarians at 8p

Monday, November 2

ID: Barbara Walters Presents American Scandals at 10p

TNT: Major Crimes at 9p, Legends at 10p

Tuesday, November 3

CNBC: The Profit at 10p

E!: Christina Milian Turned Up at 10p

TLC: Quinceanera (wt) at 10p, Weighing In at 11p

Wednesday, November 4

TLC: Mr. Congeniality at 10p

Friday, November 6

Netflix: Master of None

Sunday: November 8

Starz: Flesh and Bone at 9p

TNT: Agent X at 9p

Tuesday, November 10

Science: Secret Space Escapes at 10p

USA: Chrisley Knows Best at 10p, Donny! at 10:30p

Thursday, November 12

Lifetime: Project Runway Junior at 9p

Saturday, November 14

Esquire: Spotless at 10p

OWN: Welcome to Sweetie Pie’s at 9p, Raising Whitley at 10p

Sunday, November 15

AMC: Into the Badlands at 10p

E!: The Royals at 10p

Tuesday, November 17

TLC: 7 Little Johnstons at 9p

Thursday, November 19

Crackle: The Art of More

Friday, November 20

Amazon: The Man in the High Castle

Tuesday, November 24

Great American Country: Log Cabin Living at 10p

Nat Geo: Life Below Zero at 9p

TLC: Kate Plus 8 at 8p

Saturday, November 28

HGTV: All-Star Gingerbread Build at 8p, House Hunters Renovation at 10p

Reelz: Master P's Family Empire at 9p

Also on the way this fall:

Adult Swim: Mike Tyson Mysteries

Azteca America: Escandalos

Cartoon Network: Wabbit, Be Cool Scooby Doo!

Comedy Central: (short form) Six Guys One Car, New Timers, White Flight, Alternatino, Lucky Loser

Esquire: Uncorked in November NatGeo: Breakthrough and Saints & Strangers in November

Nickelodeon: Henry Danger, Talia in the Kitchen, Bella and the Bulldogs,

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

SundanceTV: The Returned, Behind the Story with the Paley Center

truTV: Adam Ruins Everything

WE tv: David Tutera Celebrations, South of Hell, Growing Up Hip Hop

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