Fall Network Preview

Fall Network Preview

As the broadcast networks prepare for the 2015-2016 season, they continue to face encroachment from across the entertainment landscape. But they’re prepared, with programming blueprints that include a moderate serving of new approaches with an extensive renovation, and reimagining, of popular, proven, and enduring brands.

It’s easier to bring in audiences if shows are based on “an existing franchise or recognizable name,” says Bill Carroll, SVP, Director of Content Strategy, Katz Television Group. “That doesn’t guarantee success but it does help with sampling.”

“A rebirth or reinvention of a lot of familiar favorites” is indeed a trend this coming season, agrees Andy Kubitz, EVP, ABC Entertainment, Program Planning & Scheduling.

For example, among the shows generating buzz are CBS’s Supergirl, NBC’s Heroes Reborn, and ABC’s The Muppets (“the funniest comedy pilot I saw,” says Eric Deggans, television critic for NPR).

Carroll also points out that “it’s not unusual for the broadcast networks [to] follow what the rest of the entertainment is doing,” i.e. the film industry’s reliance on proven franchises. “When you look at the new shows that are coming, most of them are connected to some kind of brand that the audience is already familiar with,” says Deggans.

But franchises and familiar faces aren’t the only tools broadcast nets are using to grab viewers. Aware that their competitors are not only their counterparts but “all the other ways viewers are able to watch programming,” Carroll says, they’re also recognizing that they need to play more to their strengths, particularly event programming, the definition of which is broadening and evolving.

For example, “I have to believe that the return of Empire will be an event, and NBC is hoping that the new Neil Patrick Harris show [Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris] will be an event,” Carroll said.

For Harris, the fact that it’s shot live adds to its event status, says Jennifer Salke, President, NBC Entertainment. “In a television landscape where there is so much delayed viewing, we feel live viewing creates an immediate-watch opportunity, especially due to spoilers on social media and the ‘anything can happen’ element of the show.”

On the genre front, there’s a strong sitcom presence across all broadcast networks for 2015-2016, with all hoping to find the next long-term, lucrative hit. Most of the successful sitcoms are already in syndication, and “the sitcom pipeline is just dripping,” in need of replenishment, says, Carroll. “Sitcoms are the building blocks, they are the annuities, in the sense that they can live forever.”

Another trend “a bit more prevalent this year with the networks is to build on what worked last year,” says Kubitz. “At ABC we are building on our successful comedies with the addition of Dr. Ken and The Muppets, and building our diversity efforts with both of those shows and our new drama Quantico.”

Other examples include NBC building on The Blacklist with Blind Spot, Fox building on Empire with Rosewood, and The CW building on Jane the Virgin with Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.

In the big picture, streaming and other alternative content options continue to grow exponentially, and now these are the “way people are talking about television, and certainly what’s driving the conversation,” says Jim McKairnes, former television executive and recent Verizon Chair at Temple University’s School of Media and Communication.

At the same time, “distinctions between television companies and streaming companies miss the point,” Nina Tassler, Chairman, CBS Entertainment, said at last month’s TCA tour. “The truth is we’re all part of one big content universe. We’re all content creators, and distributors, buyers, and sellers.”

“With so much competition, you have to allow audiences to find a show,” says Salke. “You have to interpret much more data than ever before in determining how a series is performing - DVR viewing, online, VOD. The live and same-day ratings are just one part of a bigger equation and analysis.”

Broadcast television “is still the big tent that people go through,” says McKairnes, but “we live in a world of I want what I want when I want it.”

So, what do viewers want and what will they get from broadcast television? They’ll have plenty to choose from this season. Submitted for your approval, a quick look at the broadcast network’s 2015-2016 season…

COMEDY

Angel from Hell

CBS Television Studios

CBS

Nov. 5th

Allison, a doctor, is organized and perfect, but her life is derailed when she meets brash outspoken Amy, who claims to be her guardian angel.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

CBS Television Studios, Warner Bros. Television

The CW

Oct. 19th

This comedy with musical elements centers on Rebecca Bunch, a determined (and possibly crazy) young woman who gives up her partnership at a Manhattan law firm to move to West Corvina, Calif. in an attempt to find love and happiness with an ex-boyfriend.

Crowded

Universal Television, Hazy Mills

NBC

TBA

After 20 years of parenting, empty nesters Mike and Martina are finally reclaiming their wild side. Yet when their two grown daughters both unexpectedly move back in, and Mike’s parents scratch their plans to spend their golden years in Florida, their roost is full again.

Dr. Ken

Sony Television, ABC Studios

ABC

Oct. 2nd

Doctor turned actor/comedian Ken Jeong plays Dr. Ken, a brilliant physician with no bedside manner. He’s always trying to be a good doctor, as well as a good husband and dad to his two kids. Luckily, his therapist wife Allison is the right partner to keep things sane.

Grandfathered

ABC Studios

Fox

Sept. 29th

A bachelor (John Stamos) discovers he’s not only a father, but also a grandfather.

The Grinder

The Grinder

20th Century Fox Television Studios

Fox

Sept. 29th

Rob Lowe and Fred Savage star as two brothers, one a spotlight-grabbing actor who plays TV’s most popular lawyer, and the other a real-life, small-town attorney who has yet to find his spotlight.

The Guide to Surviving Life

Jackal Group, 20th Century Fox Television

Fox

TBA

This show celebrates the mistakes and misadventures we all make during the years after college, before settling down.

Hot and Bothered

Universal Television, Unbelievable Entertainment, Tall and Short Productions

NBC

TBA

Eva Longoria (“Desperate Housewives”) stars as Ana Sofia, a sizzling TV superstar and her lively family of cast and crew all competing to steal the spotlight.

Life in Pieces

Kapital Entertainment, 20th Century Fox Television

CBS

Sept. 21st

James Brolin and Dianne Wiest star in a comedy about one family, told through four separate stories each week.

The Muppets

ABC Studios, Muppet Studios

ABC

Sept. 22nd

Kermit, Miss Piggy and the gang are back in a documentary-style show exploring the Muppets’ personal lives and relationships.

The Real O’Neals

Hypomania Content, DiBonaventura Pictures Television, ABC Studios

ABC

TBA

Produced by best-selling author Dan Savage, a contemporary take on a seemingly perfect Catholic family whose lives take an unexpected turn when surprising truths are revealed.

Rush Hour

Warner Bros. Television, Doozer

CBS

TBA

Based on the hit motion picture franchise. A stoic, by-the-book Hong Kong police officer is assigned to a case in Los Angeles, where he’s forced to work with a cocky African-American LAPD officer who has no interest in a partner.

Scream Queens

Scream Queens

20th Century Fox Television

Fox

Sept. 22nd

Comedy-horror series about a string of murders at Wallace University and Kappa House, the most sought-after sorority for pledges. The star-studded cast includes Emma Roberts, Jamie Lee Curtis, Lea Michele, and Abigail Breslin.

Superstore

Universal Television, The District

NBC

TBA

America Ferrara and Ben Feldman star in this comedy about a unique family of employees at a super-sized megastore.

Truth Be Told

Universal Television, Will Packer Productions

NBC

Oct. 16th

As they go through life side-by-side, two diverse couples can’t help but analyze and obsess about everything. From topics like sex and race, to the fact that the trusted new babysitter might just be a porn star, nothing is out of bounds.

Uncle Buck

Will Packer Productions, Universal Television, ABC Studios

ABC

TBA

Based on the hit movie, about a fun loving but irresponsible guy who becomes a caretaker to his nieces and nephews.

You, Me, and the End of the World

Working Title Television, Sky TV, Bigballs Films

NBC

TBA

The news that a comet is on an unavoidable collision course with Earth sets in motion an unexpected chain of events for stars Rob Lowe, Jenna Fischer, Megan Mullally, and Mathew Baynton.

Drama

The Bastard Executioner

Fox 21 TV Studios, FX Productions

FX

Sept. 15th

Medieval epic set in Northern Wales tells the story of Wilkin Brattle, a 14th century warrior whose life is changed when a divine messenger beseeches him to lay down his sword and lead the life of a journeyman executioner.

Blindspot

Warner Bros. TV, Berlanti Productions

NBC

Sept. 21st

A vast international plot explodes when a Jane Doe, completely covered in tattoos, is discovered naked in Times Square with no memory of how she got there.

Blood and Oil

ABC Studios

ABC

Sept. 27th

Billy and Cody Lefever dream of a new life and move to “The Baken,” booming after the biggest oil discovery in American history. They’re soon pitted again a ruthless tycoon (Don Johnson) who forces them to put everything on the line, including their marriage.

The Catch

ABC Studios, Shondaland

ABC

TBA

This thriller, based on the Kate Atkinson novel, centers on fraud investigator Alice Martin, who’s about to be the victim of fraud by her fiance. Between her cases, she’s determined to find him before her career is ruined.

Chicago Med

Universal Television, Wolf Films

NBC

Nov. 17th

The newest installment of Dick Wolf’s “Chicago” franchise takes place at the city’s most explosive hospital.

Code Black

ABC Studios, CBS Television Studios

CBS

Sept. 20th

A medical drama set in the busiest ER in the nation, where Code Black situations – when there are more patients than personnel or resources to treat them all – occur an unimaginable 300 days a year.

Containment

My So-Called Company, Warner Bros. Television

The CW

TBA

When a mysterious and deadly epidemic breaks out in Atlanta, a vast urban quarantine is quickly enforced, forcing those stuck on the inside to fight for their lives while local and federal officials desperately search for a cure.

Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders

ABC Studios, CBS Television Studios, The Mark Gordon Company

CBS

TBA

This spinoff of Criminal Minds revolves around the specialized International Division of the FBI tasked with solving crimes and rescuing Americans who find themselves in danger while abroad.

Based on the inspiring true story of living legend Dolly Parton’s remarkable upbringing.

DC's Legends of Tomorrow

DC’s Legends of Tomorrow

Bonanza Productions Inc, Berlanti Productions, Warner Bros. Television, DC Entertainment

The CW

TBA

Having seen the future, one he will desperately try to prevent from happening, time-traveling rogue Rip Hunter is tasked with assembling a disparate group of both heroes and villains to confront an unstoppable threat – one in which not only is the planet at stake, but all of time itself.

The Family

ABC Studios, Mandeville Television

ABC

TBA

This thriller follows the return of a politician’s young son who was presumed dead after disappearing over a decade earlier.

Lookinglass

20th Century Fox Television

Fox

TBA

A modern reimagining of the Mary Shelley classic Frankenstein, about a man brought back to life by two scientists playing god.

Game of Silence

Sony Pictures Television, Carol Mendelsohn Productions

NBC

TBA

Atlanta attorney’s long-lost childhood friends unexpectedly appear after 25 years. When a dark secret they thought they'd buried resurfaces, the brotherhood bands together to right the wrongs of their shared past.

Heartbreaker

Universal Television

NBC

TBA

Based on the real life and achievements of Dr. Kathy Magliato, this medical drama follows Dr. Alex Panttiere, an outspoken world-renowned heart-transplant surgeon and one of the few women in her field.

Heroes Reborn

(Universal Television, Imperative Entertainment, Tailwind Productions)

NBC

Sept. 24th

From original creator Tim King, an epic 13-episode event series chronicling the lives of ordinary people who discover they possess extraordinary abilities.

Limitless

CBS Television Studios, K/O Paper Products, Relativity Media

CBS

Sept. 22nd

Bradley Cooper executive produces, and appears periodically, in the show based on his 2011 feature film, about a man who discovers a mysterious drug that allows him to access 100% of his brain and uses his new abilities for the greater good.

Lucifer

Warner Bros. Television, Jerry Bruckheimer Television, Aggressive Mediocrity

Fox

TBA

Based on the DC Entertainment character, the story of the original fallen angel, who has abandoned his throne as the Lord of Hell and retired to L.A. where he owns Lux, an upscale nightclub.

Minority Report

Minority Report

20th Century Fox Television, Amblin Television, Paramount Television

NBC

Sept. 21st

Based on executive producer Steven Spielberg’s hit film, the first of his to be adapted for television, the story follows the unlikely partnership between a man haunted by the future and a cop haunted by her past as they race to stop the worst crimes of the year 2065 before they happen.

Of Kings and Prophets

ABC Studios

ABC

TBA

A biblical saga of faith, ambition, and betrayal told through the eyes of a king, a prophet, and a young shepherd.

The Player

Sony Pictures Television, Davis Entertainment, Kung Fu Monkey

NBC

Sept. 24th

A Las Vegas thriller about a former military operative turned security expert who is drawn into a high-stakes game where an organization of wealthy individuals gamble on his ability to stop some of the biggest crimes imaginable from playing out.

Quantico

ABC Studios

ABC

Sept. 27th

A diverse group of recruits has arrived at the FBI Quantico Base for training. They are the best, the brightest, and most vetted, so it seems impossible that one of them is suspected of masterminding the biggest attack on NYC since 9/11.

Rosewood

20th Century Television Fox, Temple Hill Entertainment

Fox

Sept. 23rd

Set in Miami, the story of Dr. Beaumont Rosewood, the city’s top private pathologist. He teams up with Detective Annalise Villa to help the Miami PD solve challenging cases.

Shades of Blue

Universal Television, Nuyorican Productions, EGTV, Ryan Seacrest Productions

NBC

TBA

Jennifer Lopez stars as sexy New York detective (and single mother) Harlee Santos, who fell in with a tight-knit group of dirty cops. She’s trapped by the FBI, forced to inform on them, and must walk the fine line between love, loyalty, honor and betrayal.

Supergirl

Berlanti Productions, Warner Bros. Television

CBS

Oct. 26th

A contemporary adaptation of the DC comic.

Wicked City

ABC Studios

ABC

Oct. 27th

The show follows a unique case set in a noteworthy era of L.A. history, starting with a murder case from 1982, centered on the rock and roll, cocaine-infused revelry of the Sunset Strip.

TALK/VARIETY

Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris

Best Time Ever With Neil Patrick Harris

ITV Studios America

NBC

Sept. 15th

Inspired by the U.K.’s Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, NBC promises stunts, skits, pranks, audience interaction, musical numbers, giveaways, and unlimited surprises.

Late Show with Stephen Colbert

Late Show with Stephen Colbert

CBS Television Studios, Spartina Productions

CBS

Sept. 8th

Stephen Colbert takes over the franchise after David Letterman’s 22-year run.

Little Big Shots

Warner Horizon Television, East 112th Street Productions, A Very Good Production

NBC

Midseason

Hosted by Steve Harvey, a variety series showcasing the nation’s most talented, quirky, and fun kids.

REALITY

First Dates

First Dates

Shed Media, A Very Good Production

NBC

TBA

Based on the hit U.K. format, the series offers a voyeuristic look at a variety of real first dates happening throughout one night at the same restaurant.

Events

Coat of Many Colors

Warner Bros. Television, Magnolia Hill Entertainment, DP Productions

January 31st

NBC

December 2015

Grease Live!

Grease Live!

Paramount Television

Fox

Julianne Hough and Vanessa Hudgens star in the musical, reimagined for a new generation.

The Reaper

The Weinstein Company

NBC

TBA

Based on the best-selling memoir “The Reaper” by Nicholas Irving, this event miniseries recounts the 100-day Afghanistan deployment of the first African-American sniper, Sgt. Nicholas Irving, nicknamed ‘The Reaper.’

The Wiz Live!

Universal Television, Cirque Du Soleil Theatrical

NBC

Dec. 3rd

Rising star Shanice Williams joins Mary J. Blige, Queen Latifah, David Alan Grier, Uzo Aduba, Amber Riley, Stephanie Mills, Common, Ne-Yo, and Elijah Kelley in the holiday musical featuring Cirque du Soleil.

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