The network upfronts — where each of the networks try and entice advertisers to plunk down large amounts of cash for space on new series, most of which will be cancelled before a second season — were presented this week. It was once the most exciting week on the annual television calendar, but splintered audiences, the rise of cable and streaming programming, lower ratings, and a rolling release schedule have diminished the impact of the event.
It is nevertheless an important time because — though ratings are significantly lower across the board — the networks can still command hefty ad prices because ABC, CBS, NBC, The CW, and Fox are still the only networks that can consistently deliver ad space to millions of viewers. HBO, Showtime, and most of the streaming services are not ad supported, so the networks have been able to remain profitable despite far fewer viewers.
As of 2012, over 65 percent of all new shows were cancelled in their first season. That number may be higher now. Nevertheless, some of the networks — Fox, in particular — have put forward some strong offerings for next year, while other networks like ABC may surpass that 65 percent mark. CBS, meanwhile, continues to appeal to its demo, while NBC has mostly stayed pat.
Here’s the lowdown on the new series coming in the 2016-17 season.