Good news for TV execs everywhere: Most viewers know that new broadcast shows will arrive in the next several weeks. The bad? We probably know much less about these individual new shows than new show launches of the past.
Do TV viewers know exactly what's coming on the air these days? Not really. Steve Sternberg, veteran TV programming analyst, said he didn't even know that shows such as NBC's "The Apprentice" or "Outlaws" (new series) or "Parenthood" had started up already. He blamed the lack of TV promotion -- or at least a waste of it before the start of the new season.
I have to agree with him. I didn't get the sense those NBC series had already started up. The bottom line, then, must be this: While TV networks struggle with their individual programming efforts, the collective start-up of the new season still has the average person looking for answers.
More than in previous seasons, the broadcast networks are starting up many new shows in a short time frame -- just short of two dozen. That's a positive.
In years past, networks looked to get marketing separation from other shows -- starting series earlier (August) or even later (mid-October) -- all to get away from the sometimes confusing and conflicting TV marketing noise that hits this time of year.
Some like Sternberg had said the networks need to consider something radical -- like promoting each other's shows, as the cable networks do -- to be successful in the future. Networks aren't doing that, but at least they seem to believe that simultaneously marketing new fall TV show s means unity -- an umbrella effect.
TV shows are more and more like movies these days: You don't open well, you don't open. Broadcasters sticking together for at least for one or two weeks of the year might help. Long term, of course, there will need to be other answers.