From Campaign US: Two-and-one-half months into the new television season and the broadcast networks, unfortunately, have not been able to stop the audience bleeding. Season to-date (through Nov. 27), CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox and The CW are averaging 36.11 million viewers in total, according to Nielsen. That’s a 5 percent drop from last year. Ratings among adults 18-49, at 9.5 rating/32 share, slipped by 10 percent. Fox is the only one of the five nets that is experiencing positive gains, with a 10 percent increase in total viewers more of a result of that kickass seven-game Major League Baseball World Series than its roster of regularly-scheduled programming.
Naturally, part of the audience erosion stems from the added competition, particularly from the digital outlets. A record 500 scripted series are expected for broadcast in 2017, about 70 on Netflix alone. So, finding an audience has become more difficult than ever. Then, of course, the networks generally aren’t offering audiences quality programming. The only bona fide hit, both creatively and by the numbers, is the family drama “This is Us” on NBC.
Now the network programmers are putting their faith in midseason, a four-month window beginning after the first of the year. Less cluttered than the fall, when most new entries are rolled out, midseason gives the next set of hopefuls, like Fox’s “Empire” just two years ago, more breathing room. While finding a new hit (or two) the caliber of “Empire” or “This Is Us” could be considered a long shot, I do actually think a number of upcoming newbies have solid potential. Perhaps, it’s a strategy of saving the best for last.
For the five midseason debuts that look most promising, click here: