The five major
English-language broadcast networks ordered 104 scripted pilots for the
upcoming 2013-14 season, up from the previous two seasons in which they ordered
a total 89 for 2012-13 and 88 for 2011-12.
The surge is no
doubt a response to the dismally low number of breakout shows the networks have
had in the current season.
Here's an overview
of the five broadcast networks and what they might be thinking for next season
as the upfront approaches.
ABC finished fourth
last season in adults 18-49, and a sluggish development prior to this season
finds them again in fourth place heading into the final weeks of the 2012-13
At 64.1%, ABC has
the highest concentration of female viewers compared to its broadcast rivals.
This season, ABC introduced two dramas designed to recruit male viewers, Last
Resort and Zero Hour. Both were quickly cancelled. In fact, among
its first-year dramas, Nashville is the only one somewhat succeeding this
Among the programs
ABC is considering for the 2013-14 season is Marvel Comics' S.H.I.E.L.D.,
which has Joss Whedon attached as executive producer; the superhero drama is
expected to be a strong male vehicle. While ABC is also planning several
serialized female-targeted dramas, it is looking to use multi-Emmy winning Modern Family as an anchor for new comedies
featuring familiar names, such as James Caan in Back in the Game, David
Spade in Bad Management and John Leguizamo in an untitled semi-autobiographical
While CBS won its
first February sweeps in 15 years and is poised to win the season in adults
18-49 for the first time in decades, there are concerns that some shows are losing
viewers and skewing older, with the network's median age in primetime reaching 58.
Furthermore, in the fall, CBS quickly pulled two of its four new series, Made
inJersey and Partners.
CBS has been more
successful than its competitors with comedies, and there should be some openings
in the near future. How I Met Your Mother will be entering its final
season this fall, and the future of Two and Half Men is uncertain.
Nonetheless, CBS has already renewed 18 shows for 2013-14, so space is tight
CBS still has some
high-profile talent associated with its comedy development for 2013-14. Chuck
Lorre, creator of The Big Bang Theory and
Two and a Half Men (among others),
created Mom, a comedy starring Anna Faris as a mother recovering from
alcoholism. David E. Kelley has created Crazy Ones, a workplace comedy
headlined by Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar.
For its dramas, CBS
could launch its third NCIS series next fall with NCIS: Red, starringJohn Corbett,which
recently aired as a backdoor pilot. CBS, which has been searching for a medical
drama for a number of years, could pick up Surgeon General.
The median age of
The CW's viewers rose to 43 this season, so either younger viewers are watching
the network on its other readily-available platforms, or they are not watching
at all. And with The CW cancelling 90210 after five seasons, the network
has a big scheduling hole to fill.
As in recent years,
The CW will not have any comedies in 2013-14. All eight programs in development
are dramas, perhaps the most promising being The Originals, a spinoff of
its top-rated series TheVampire
Most of The CW's other
dramas are either serialized shows targeting young females or of the science
For the first time
in eight years, Fox will not be the top-rated network among adults 18-49.
Declining viewership of several returning shows such as American Idol,
Glee and The X Factor coupled with no new breakout shows and a
low-rated World Series, contributed to Fox's fall. The most promising first-year
show has been The Following,
the serial killer drama starring Kevin Bacon that debuted in January.
For 2013-14, Fox is
planning to target young males. For example, comedian Andy Samberg headlines an
as-yet unnamed comedy about detectives, while Rob Riggle stars in a comedy
about a neurotic and introverted family. Greg Kinnear will play an acerbic lawyer
in a legal drama titled Rake.
But Fox is not
neglecting female viewers.Felicity Huffman is the lead in Boomerang,
a drama about a family of paid assassins. Emma Roberts has been cast in Delirium,
a drama about a world in which falling in love is forbidden.
In 2012-13, NBC has
had a case of a Jekyll and Hyde
season. Coming off the successful London Olympics, the network won 13 of the
first 15 weeks, as well as the November sweeps for the first time since 2003. But
after the football season ended and The Voice went on hiatus, the wheels
came off the cart.
In the February
sweeps, NBC, in a first, finished fifth behind Univision. First-year shows Revolution
(from J.J. Abrams) and Chicago Fire are two dramas that should be returning
for a sophomore season, but other dramas like Do No Harm and the second-year
show Smash faltered and will not be back.
For the 2013-14
season, NBC will revive 1970s drama Ironside, starring Blair Underwood. J.J. Abrams has another drama in
development at NBC, Believe, about an unlikely relationship.
On the comedy side,
two long-running shows are leaving the network, 30 Rock and The
Office, though two alumni of The Office, Ellie Kemper and Craig
Robinson, have been cast in comedy pilots. NBC has already signed up an
autobiographical comedy from Michael J. Fox., as well as a vehicle for Sean
Hayes, who may return to NBC as a father in Happiness.
This article is excerpted from Horizon Media's
2013-14 Broadcast TV Program Development Overview.