The way network TV works has been changing a lot over the past two years. There has been a shift in the way that shows are beling developed and how they are airing on their networks. All these changes are not just appearing on what we see on air, but also in the behind the scenes. For years, networks would order develop series starting in roughly August. Those shows which had the most promise would then get pilot orders. The pilots would then be shot starting in late January through late April. Then come May Upfronts would come along and the final fate of a show would be determined. Either the network would pick up the show or it would be relegated to the ether or unknown pilots.
That is different from this year. For one, we saw a number of early pick ups of shows. Generally you would only see a few highly successful shows being picked up early before Upfronts. Networks generally know which shows are going to come back pretty early on. The ratings tell the whole story. A poorly rated show with bad buzz stands no chance. Often those are the shows that are canceled early on within a season and often have unaired episodes. But many shows manage to hang on for their first season either saved by mediocrity or great buzz.
But times are a changing and the networks are not only changing how they are developing and choosing shows, but also the way shows are airing. For one there has been an increase of the number of 13 episode shows that networks are airing, particularly on FOX. But these early renewals and shorter shows are happening on all networks. Every last one of them is trying to change the formula of success. The result is more shows that are following this cable like formats.Most recently a new set of shows were green lit for both FOX and NBC prior to their upfronts which add to the number of already renewed shows.
The answer is rather simple. Viewership is dropping. Well at least viewership in the traditional sense. More an more people are cutting away from cable and instead are relying on the internet to get their TV. This change has resulted in networks scrambling to save themselves. The high numbers that were once the number are falling. The highs are simply dropping across the board and it isn’t anything the networks are going to be able to change. People are looking for immediate gratification and network doesn’t handle that as it requires appointment viewing and the dread commercials. So networks are changing things