Both NBC and Fox Programming Draws Initial Praise From Media Buyers

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NBC might be limping toward the end of the current primetime
season, but the Peacock Network got to strut its stuff with the introduction of
its new programming for the 2013-14 primetime season on Monday, and the initial
reaction of media buyers was positive.

While it's only a random sampling of opinions based on short
video clips and series concept descriptions, it is, generally speaking, in
contrast to last year's upfront presentation when most new NBC series, with a
big exception in Revolution, were
panned by media buyers.

It is, of course, easy to dismiss these initial opinions;
then again, Revolution is also the
only freshman series NBC is bringing back for a second season.

Granted, this initial response does not guarantee that media
buyers on behalf of their clients will be pouring $2 billion into the NBC
upfront coffers, but first impressions are important, and it's at least a solid
indication that the ad buying community sees the network moving in the right
direction—which is up, and hopefully out of its ratings hole.

Buyer criticism of NBC after last year's upfront
presentation wasn't limited to the quality of its new programming: Some of the
network's scheduling moves were also questioned. But that also wasn't the case
this time around.

Just about all the buyers randomly polled believe it's a
good move for NBC to schedule its new James Spader crime drama, The
Blacklist
—which may be the
network's biggest chance for drama success—on Monday at 10 p.m., leading out of
The Voice.

They also think moving veteran drama Parenthood from
Wednesday at 10 p.m. to Thursday at 10 p.m. is worthwhile. Parenthood has been critically acclaimed but ratings challenged
since it came on the air. However, buyers believe NBC moving it to the higher
viewing night, leading out of the new family-themed comedies Welcome to the
Family
at 8:30 p.m., Sean Saves the World at 9 and The Michael J.
Fox Show
at 9:30 could bring Parenthood more of an audience.

Buyers also like the synergy of the new Wednesday night
schedule of Revolution at 8, Law & Order: SVU at 9, and new
police drama Ironside-an update of
the old Raymond Burr series, starring Blair Underwood-at 10, although some
wonder if Revolution is too mature a series to air at 8.

NBC is offering more synergy on Friday nights, leading
veteran sci-fi series Grimm at 9 into new sci-fi series Dracula
at 10.

Some buyers also like that NBC is planning to program
Sundays between 9-11 p.m.-after football season and the wildly popular Sunday Night Football depart-with two
new dramas, Believe and Crisis. No one seems to be upset that the
network has yet to renew Donald Trump's Apprentice
series, which has aired after football season for the past several years on
Sunday nights.

There were, however, a few buyers scratching their heads over
why NBC is programming the Thursday 9 p.m. slot with the Sean Hayes comedy Sean
Saves the World
, instead of with The Michael J. Fox Show. But if
both can draw audiences like their previous TV series' have done, then chances
are good it won't matter much.

Fox's Turn

Media buyers also liked much of the new Fox programming, although
that was also the case last season, when most of it also tanked. After last
year's Fox upfront presentation, buyers were labeling crime drama The Following a success, and it was this
season. But they also liked drama Mob Doctor and sitcom Ben andKate,
both of which were canceled pretty early.

Still, media buyers are again in Fox's court, believing that
new several Fox sitcoms and dramas can catch on. They also like that many of
the new series skew a bit more male, since so much of broadcast television
primetime leans more heavily female.

Fox's two new Tuesday sitcoms, Dads at 8 p.m. and Brooklyn
Nine-Nine
at 8:30, both drew positive comments from buyers. Seth MacFarlane
is one of the creators of Dads, which stars Seth Green and Giovanni
Ribisi as the sons of dads Peter Riegert and Martin Mull. Brooklyn Nine-Nine
stars Andy Samberg as a carefree detective who is part of an ensemble cast of
misfit cops that suddenly have to deal with a new by-the-book captain (Andre
Braugher).

While buyers think the two male-skewing sitcoms can both
succeed, they are questioning Fox leading them into returning female-skewing
comedies New Girl at 9 p.m. and The Mindy Project at 9:30 p.m.

But Fox entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly believes both Dads
and Brooklyn Nine-Nine will draw lots of female viewers as well.

"We did want to give men some more programming to watch on
the network," Reilly says. "Fox has always had a strong male core audience. But
there's male-oriented programming that repels women and male programming that
interests women. It's also harder to get men to watch more female-oriented
programming than it is to get women to watch more male-oriented shows."

Two new Fox sci-fi dramas -- Sleepy Hollow and Almost
Human --
got positive renews from buyers as did law drama Rake,
starring Greg Kinnear.

Speaking again about shows that seem to skew more male, Reilly
says, "Crime shows do [also] have a strong female appeal." There's some history
to support the claim: Some of the most watched series on television-CBS crime
dramas such as NCIS, NCIS: Los Angeles, Criminal Minds, CSI and Person
of Interest
-all have sizable female audiences.

Fox did well with the media buyers, but the network didn't
earn straight A's. Some buyers believe midseason sitcom Enlisted may be
tooover thetop,
and some feel crime drama Gang Related may not work in more rural markets in the country.

Buyers did like Fox's expansion of its digital programming
and also like Reilly's decision to order more shorter-arc series of 12-15
episodes, compared to the traditional full season order of 22, which results in
more repeats-a strategy that may work with the revival of 24.

And buyers praised both NBC and Fox for their willingness to
release, at least for the pilots, what were obviously more costlier productions,
along with their ability in many instances to lure big-name talent.

"Both Fox and NBC have really invested a lot of
money into their primetime content," said one media buyer, who, like all, did
not wish to speak for attribution because they have to negotiate with the
networks in the coming weeks. "They are really making an effort to keep any
more dollars from moving into cable."

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