26th Annual TV Preview: Overview
THE 2021-22 SEASON | BY CHERYL KLEAR, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT
Welcome to the 26th edition of the Harmelin Media Annual TV Preview. Last year’s preview was our first online version due to the pandemic, and we were all working from home. Here we are one year later, and many of us still haven’t returned to the office. Thus, the changes in our viewing habits thanks to COVID and being at home so much still remain today.
In 2020, as lockdowns began, networks scrambled to finish their TV seasons. Their issues continued throughout the summer with major filming and production setbacks. These setbacks caused a delay in fall programming, as shows were pushed to November and in some cases, to January of 2021. Because of this, there were fewer new shows on the fall schedule than ever before. For the first time in over a decade, the number of premium scripted original TV shows on broadcast, cable and streaming platforms declined 7% in 2020 to 493, from 532 in 2019.
In May of each year, the networks present their fall programming line-ups to advertisers. In 2021, it was a little different with mainly virtual presentations instead of the previously elaborate New York City productions. In addition, the presentations were not just the broadcast networks, but now by media company and their total programming assets, which for several included their cable and streaming services – both ad-supported and non-ad-supported. Broadcast networks are trying to compete with the major streaming services such as Netflix and Prime Video. While time spent with video has increased during the past year, so has fragmentation and vying for viewers’ attention; hence the need to present their offerings as platform-agnostic.
The biggest news to come out of the Upfront presentations was the announcement from WarnerMedia that it was purchasing Discovery, Inc. Once the merger closes in mid-2022 the new company name will be Warner Bros. Discovery. The conglomerate will include CNN, TNT, TBS, and HBO Max, combined with the Discovery properties such as Food Network and HGTV.
This fall, the networks will continue the trend of adding what has been successful for them in the past. CBS will include more procedural dramas to their existing franchises by adding to both NCIS (Hawaiʻi) and FBI (International), and will bring back CSI (Vegas). ABC will air a reboot of The Wonder Years, now featuring a Black family from Montgomery, Alabama, which will be narrated by Don Cheadle (House of Lies) and starring Dule Hill (Ballers). The Wonder Years is part of an overall effort for the media companies to be more inclusive with both diverse casts and storytellers.
This year we are covering new shows by media company (ad-supported) and new shows by non-ad-supported streaming services:
We hope you enjoy this issue with our previews of the upcoming television season.