For Media Professionals, It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!
By Bobbie Termeer, Vice President, Audio/Video Media Connections and Megan Smuckler, Senior Media Connections Planner/Buyer
Each year in May, the broadcast television networks plan elaborate presentations to introduce their new programming for the season to advertising agencies and their clients. These presentations are called the Upfronts. And, as Fahlgren Mortine media professionals and pop culture junkies, this is the best week of the year. It’s a mix of seeing our favorite stars in new projects and letting our geek flag fly while discussing ratings, rankings, demos and consumer engagement. This year, there were two hot topics brought up in each of the presentations: viewability and big data.
Viewability is not a new conversation, however, it is one that we typically have in the digital media world. During the Upfronts, we were reminded that television commercials are 100 percent viewable (as long as you don’t get up and get a snack). The networks reminded us that they have an audience tuning in through multiple devices where they are viewing 100 percent of an advertiser’s commercial every time.
Data was a topic of conversation as well. At the end of the day, networks understand that we are looking for an audience that will be interested in not only considering the advertisements but also acting on them. The term “big data” was thrown around quite a bit but the only network to really showcase this was NBC. They touted the fact that they are able to use third party data, as well as set-box data, to provide more targeted national schedules.
While viewability and big data are major points, what we all came for was the programming. Each network had its highs and lows. Here are some of both from the presentations.
NBC – Of all the new shows on NBC, there were several that stood out including “Blindspot,” a intriguing thriller airing on Mondays following “The Voice” and “Heroes Reborn” on Thursdays which revisits the original “Heroes” series with new developments and characters. Coming in mid season is “Chicago Med,” capitalizing on the popularity of Dick Wolf’s Chicago franchise. There are some less than stellar midseason shows that will be interesting to watch develop including the “Coach” reboot, once again starring Craig T. Nelson, and “Hot and Bothered,” starring Eva Longoria as a telenovela actress.
Fox – While Fox didn’t have a great 2014-2015 season, they did have a huge hit with Empire and spent a good part of the presentation singing its praises. They also highlighted “Scream Queens,” a new horror comedy from Ryan Murphy starring Jamie Lee Curtis and Emma Roberts. They gave a lot of attention to two new comedies, “Grandfathered” with John Stamos and “The Grinder” with Rob Lowe. Two midseason shows appear to have little promise: “Lucifer” and “The Guide to Surviving Life.”
ABC – ABC offered up an interesting reboot with “The Muppets,” filmed in the same mockumentary style used previously by “The Office” and “Parks and Recreation.” Quantico, a story about FBI recruits, is receiving some decent industry buzz. Bad buzz is following “Of Kings and Prophets,” a show based on the story of David and Saul from the Bible. Premiering in midseason, Shonda Rhimes will debut her fourth show on the network with “The Catch” starring Mireille Enos.
CBS – CBS has the show with by far the biggest buzz, “Supergirl.” The trailer received more than 10 million views in the week since it premiered at the Upfronts, which is more than the total views of all the other upfront trailers from CBS, ABC, NBC and Fox combined. They are also introducing an ER-type show called “Code Black,” starring Marcia Gay Harden. The network has two shows based on feature films, “Limitless” (with a cameo by Bradley Cooper in the premiere) and “Rush Hour,” coming in midseason.
CW – The network is only introducing one new show in the fall, “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.” Their big spin-off, DC’s “Legends of Tomorrow” will premiere in mid-season.
The 2015-2016 season will say goodbye to two long-time franchises, “CSI” and “American Idol.” “CSI” will have its series finale in September with a two-hour episode and, after 15 seasons, “American Idol” will sign off in May.