The start of the 2013-2014 broadcast season is upon us and this fall offers a slew of new shows airing across broadcast, cable and the web. With a few exceptions, this season’s crop has been judged as lackluster and unimaginative. Occasionally a season offers fantastic new offerings such as 2004 with "Lost" and "Desperate Housewives" but more often the result is like fall 2012. Just eight of last fall's 20 new series were renewed and none of the shows currently on the air is a ratings powerhouse.
With over 30 new program offerings the battle for timeslots is as crucial as ever, but with the ability to DVR or view online, several shows airing at the same time can now be popular.
This is a critical fall for the 4 broadcast stations along with cable because the consumer has more choices than ever. Viewers can now view Emmy nominated programming on the subscriber based streaming service Netflix with House of Cards or tune-in to PBS for water-cooler shows such as Downtown Abbey. In addition, for the first time ever, a cable show was the top-rated scripted series on television. AMC's "The Walking Dead" was not only the highest-rated scripted show of the 2012-13 season, but the second highest-rated show overall, behind NBC's "Sunday Night Football."
The good news is that the DVR and on-demand are increasing television viewing. According to Nielsen’s Q2 Cross-Platform report, the amount of time consumers spend each month viewing live and time-shifted TV increased slightly from a combined 167 hours and 55 minutes in the first quarter of 2012, to 170 hours and 54 minutes in the first quarter of 2013.
So, the demise of TV is a bit exaggerated and consumers are viewing more content than ever. The attachment to television is still extremely strong; Just ask the millions that will be tuning in over the next couple of weeks to catch the season premieres. This season there is something for everyone. Whether you enjoy comedies, dramas, movie-style visuals or fantasies the choices are endless. Now what to watch…
MSM’s Top TV Picks
ABC’s potential big hit is Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This Joss Whedon drama features Clark Gregg, back in his role as Agent Phil Coulson from Marvel’s feature films. Hoping to be the next Modern Family is Trophy Wife starring Bradley Whitford. This comedy revolves around Whitfords much younger wife navigating her role as step-mom to his 4 children from previous marriages.
NBC boasts two of the most buzzed about new shows. The drama The Blacklist with James Spader as one of the FBI’s most-wanted fugitives who brokers a deal to help capture a long-thought-dead terrorist and The Michael J Fox Show. This marks the TV return of the popular actor as Mike Henry, a husband and dad of three kids who lives in New York, where his challenges include living with Parkinson’s disease.
Fox is betting on broader and lower-brow comedies this fall, including Brooklyn Nine-Nine which stars Andy Samburg as a slacker detective, and the controversial Dads. Seth MacFarlane’s live action comedy series features Gionvanni Ribisi and Seth Green as two successful 30-something guys whose dads move in with them.
The serialized new drama Hostages, a thriller about a top surgeon (Toni Collette) who finds herself and her entire family kidnapped the night before she’s supposed to operate on the president, could be a winner for the network. In addition, one of the biggest talked about returns to television is with Robin Williams’ The Crazy Ones. Williams plays a quirky advertising genius in charge of a powerful ad agency — Sarah Michelle Gellar plays his daughter, who also works at his company.
The network is using its strongest launch pad, The Vampire Diaries, to introduce a soapy female drama, Reign. The network is also debuting The Originals, a spin-off of their hit The Vampire Diaries.
The provocative new drama Masters of Sex is liberally adapted from Thomas Maier’s thorough 2009 biography of the pioneering sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson.