At Press Tour, Words to Live By (Or Eat Later)

Top network execs offer promises and predictions for the months ahead

Network executives spent the last two weeks appearing on stage at the Television Critics Association summer press tour, touting their upcoming programming, playing down their missteps and making predictions for the future. Based on their comments, here’s what we will be holding network execs to in the coming months, and what to look for, until we do it all again in January.

NBC: “I hope that when we come back here in six months, we can say that the fall comedies did even better than last year’s comedies.”—Entertainment chairman Bob Greenblatt

NBC has been aggressive about getting more laughs on its schedule, picking up four fall comedies it hopes will be broader than its Thursday legacy half-hours. With record viewership for the Olympics, where it will preview the comedies Go On and Animal Practice while endlessly promoting the others, NBC can no longer lean on the excuse of depleted airwaves if the launches aren’t successful. All of which means if the network comes to the next TCA with nothing better than Whitney and Up All Night, it will have only its development folks to blame.

ABC News: “This was an unfortunate mistake. We take responsibility for it. We’re taking the steps necessary to make sure that that particular error does not happen again.”—Network news president Ben Sherwood

Sherwood spent a majority of his TCA session answering for ABC News’ recent misreporting on the movie theater shooting in Colorado, when investigative correspondent Brian Ross incorrectly linked suspect James Holmes to the Tea Party. Despite Sherwood admitting that, “we put something on the air that we did not know to be true,” Ross was not suspended or formally reprimanded for the error. ABC News is, however, reviewing its policies and procedures for breaking news as a result of the incident, making it that much harder for a similar mistake to go unpunished in the future.

FX: “I would humbly suggest that hits and misses in our business need to be judged in some context which allows fair benchmarking.”— Network president John Landgraf

The always candid Landgraf called on reporters to press new media competitors like Netfi lx, Hulu and YouTube to release measurement for their original programming to compare it to series on broadcast, and basic and premium cable, arguing that unique users sampling a show is meaningless when held against the average viewership of TV episodes. Will it happen? Not likely, especially in the case of Netflix, which operates on a subscription model instead of advertising revenue. But perhaps it will get more people asking.

CBS: “We’re going right down that road again. We do great with multi-cams. But it’s not about the form, it’s the content.”— Entertainment president Nina Tassler

Could CBS finally be moving into the singlecamera comedy genre? After developing and failing to pick up any single-cam projects during the upfront, Tassler confi rmed the network has picked up Rob Greenberg’s Ex Men from CBS Studios, starring Chris Smith and Kal Penn. While the show is not slated as soon as midseason, Tassler said CBS has other single-camera comedies in development, meaning it could be touting one on the stage here this time next year.

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