The networks will play a variety of pop hits during their TV upfront presentations next month, but the only song that really should be part of the soundtrack that is The Lego Movie’s “Everything is Awesome.” After all, each of the the network executives who take the stage will be full of optimism that their new crop of shows will finally be the ones that take them to the top.
But as I wrote at Adweek, everything is not awesome, even for the top network in adults 18-49 (which will again be ABC). Before we hear a new batch of (at least partially) empty upfronts promises, I looked back at the five worst predictions from last year’s presentations. Among them: then Fox Entertainment president Kevin Reilly’s declaration that Jump of the Century and Hieroglyph will be airing soon on the network:
Reilly was far from the only one to disappear from Fox shortly after the upfronts. He touted two programs to advertisers that were canceled before they ever made it to air: straight-to-series pickup Hieroglyph (Fox pulled the plug a month later) and Jump of the Century, in which two rival stuntmen would attempt Evel Knievel’s failed jump across Idaho’s Snake River Canyon (it was scrapped last July). “The power of broadcast really shines through when there’s urgency to view,” Reilly said of Jump of the Century. Of course, it also really shines through when the shows are actually broadcast.
There’s a lot more silly predictions where that came from, so sure to read the rest of the story.
The network presidents spent much of 2014 bragging about, and defending, their various programming and scheduling decisions, no matter how foolish some of them turned out.
But some of those proclamations were so outrageous that they earned a well-deserved spot on this list of the 10 most ridiculous statements network presidents made this year. (I wanted to call this their “10 Biggest Lies of 2014,” but they actually believed at least some of these things to be true at the time they said them.)
From “Mulaney is the next Seinfeld!” to “We love Bill Cosby, and his troubles will sort themselves out,” see how many of your favorites made the list. And if you think Kevin Reilly, who stepped down as Fox entertainment chairman in May, is going to figure prominently … you would be correct.
This has been inevitable since former Fox head of programming Kevin Reilly left/was pushed out last month: his plan — announced at TCA winter press tour — to kill pilot season has itself been killed. Fox has pulled the plug on Hireoglyph, one of the shows Reilly had ordered “straight to series” last fall. As I wrote at Quartz,
Ironically, Fox ended up doing the very thing Reilly had tried to avoid: sinking large amounts of money into a show that will never see the light of day.
While Fox is still moving forward on Gotham, one of its other straight-to-series pickups, it’s clear that the reports of the death of pilot season have been greatly exaggerated.
As upfronts wrap today, I wrote this Quartz piece about one big change to this year’s proceedings: the networks are finally serious about programming year-round, and they’re actually putting their money where their mouths are.
But as broadcast ratings continue to erode, those networks can no longer assume that their viewers will stay loyal and return in the fall. So when CBS took a chance on adapting Stephen King’s Under the Dome as a “limited series” last summer, and it became the highest-rated scripted summer series in 21 years, the network kept it in the same spot this year (it returns June 30). With the addition of Extant and other summer shows, CBS will have 90 hours of original programming this summer.
It’s a big change from the broadcasters’ traditional hands-off approach to summer, allowing the cable networks (and more recently, Netflix) to swoop in and take all the audiences for themselves.
As Daylight Saving Time returns today, I wrote at Quartz why this is the worst time each year for TV execs and advertisers.
That’s because when the time change arrives, the industry must grapple with a corresponding drop in viewership (measured as Households Using Television, or HUT levels). That, in turn, translates into ratings declines across the board—especially in DST’s first week— for programs airing in the early evening, as some viewers choose to enjoy their additional hour of daylight away from their TV.
I was inspired to do this story by an observation that Kevin Reilly made at TCA winter press tour. Once again, I’m using my Quartz platform to tackle TV-related issues that few outside of the industry are aware of.
TCA winter tour is finally winding down, but I wanted to write one last story about the various developments and announcements that I hadn’t been able to address in standalone stories. So for my final Quartz story from TCA, I noted six ways that TV is changing forever, including my observation that pilot season isn’t dead — yet:
Last week, FOX announced the death of pilot season, with Reilly explaining that “it’s highly inefficient” and “built for a different era” when CBS, ABC and NBC were the only three networks in existence. Instead, Reilly has already picked up several projects “straight to series” for next season, bypassing the usual pilot process so as not to waste resources on projects that will never make it to air.
Yet the other networks were quick to declare that while the business is indeed changing, pilot season is still very useful for them. “It’s frustrating, but also exciting,” said CBS’s Tassler, who noted that pilot season’s “compression of time”—in which pilots are cast, shot and focus-tested in a matter of weeks—gives way to “this creative adrenaline” that has delivered their biggest hits, like The Big Bang Theory. NBC’s Greenblatt noted that his network’s new hit The Blacklist “probably would never have seen the air had we not made a pilot, because it came from a relatively young, inexperienced writer. We weren’t exactly sure immediately from that script that we should order a series.”