Networks relying more on restarts, franchises
Everything old is new on network television again, and with no excuses.
As the TV industry rushes into the future with streaming services, mainstream broadcasters have unveiled 2021-2022 programs that rely heavily on well-known series brands and reboots of decades-old shows.
There’s even a two-fer based on “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” the Las Vegas forensic drama that wowed viewers when it arrived in 2000. Get ready for “CSI: Vegas,” a remake of CBS with original stars William Petersen and Jorja Fox and, as a sign of progress in diversity, black actor Paula Newsome as lead investigator.
The network’s annual tradition of wooing potential ad buyers with lavish New York shows of upcoming shows and their stars has been reduced by COVID to a virtual showcase for the second year.
But a deeper disruption has come with the announcement that Discovery and WarnerMedia are planning to merge, adding yet another media giant with streaming services – Discovery + and HBO Max – to the fray that started with Netflix.
Broadcast networks are not just on the fringes. Most are aligned with streaming services through their business owners, such as Disney’s ABC and Disney +, which means they are both competitive and cooperative.
The strategy of doubling the rate on the standard network comes in the form of lavish streaming shows, including “The Crown,” which garnered praise from critics, Emmy Awards and subscribers. But it’s the ad dollars that networks need, and they’re uniquely positioned to deliver the mass audiences that justify them.
Here are the main takeaways from this week’s announcements by ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC.
Streaming is definitely getting a buzz now – hot shows that get critical attention or awards, and the format is what business leaders are focusing on.
During the 1995-96 television season, 56 percent of people who watched television at night saw the network’s affiliates live output – primarily CBS, NBC, ABC and Fox. This year, that number had fallen to 26%, according to the Nielsen company.
The unveiling of a new fall show on CBS – for two decades typically America’s most-watched television network – was the centerpiece of the week. This year it was rushed, almost after the fact. Instead, CBS and its Viacom business partners have focused on all content available across multiple platforms.
“We’re talking about literally looking at our business holistically, and where these shows end, where they seem to fit the best,” CBS chief entertainment officer Kelly Kahl said in an interview. “That’s the point of what we’re trying to do. We try to bring the best shows to viewers, however they choose to watch. “
Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier sounded almost plaintive as he spoke to the advertisers of his network’s shows, “These aren’t designed for subscribers, they’re designed for you, to help your brand.”
It’s as close as you’ll get a TV director to say he makes material to play between commercials.
It’s a company. And while executives may be on their heels, advertisers pledged to spend some $ 18.6 billion on ads on broadcast and cable networks last year after hearing their plans, even with The uncertainty caused by the pandemic, according to Media Dynamics, Inc., has dropped along with viewership numbers, as programming is still one of the few opportunities to reach large audiences.
So while the rise of streaming makes it seem like it’s a business in transition, it’s not entirely clear what lies ahead.
Want some fries with that?
The term “franchise” applies to the fast food industry and to television, with some networks making adaptable series formats which it describes as a central part of their programming.
A key producer is Dick Wolf, whose series will occupy nine prime hours on two networks this fall: The new “Law & Order: For the Defense” joins the long-running “Law & Order: SVU” program and recently introduced “Law & Order: Organized Crime” on NBC, which already airs all three of Wolf’s “Chicago” dramas, and CBS is adding “FBI: International” to make it a trio of its “FBI” shows.