Good news for those who still believe in broadcast network television: There some 52 new shows hitting the airwaves for this upcoming fall season -- up from 37 a year ago.
More dramas, more action-adventure shows, more comedies -- traditional and otherwise. All that is good news for TV advertisers.
But where are the new reality shows? A few may be on the works for midseason and for those in-between fall and midseason weeks. But increasingly, you don't see networks taking a chance in offering prime fall or spring time periods for new, unproven reality fare.
Have we finally reached our saturation point on the broadcast networks?
NBC says "A Million-Second Quiz" will run for 12 consecutive days this fall. But when? I'm guessing right after the November sweeps in December. NBC is also trying "American Dream Builders," but on Sunday night at 8 p.m. at mid-season.
For years, CBS has stuck to their small cadre of reality shows -- "Survivor," "Amazing Race," "Big Brother" (in the summer) and "Undercover Boss" -- while other broadcast network played fast and loose with fringe reality performers.
Other networks are seemingly taking fewer chances. ABC has decided to trim back "Dancing with the Stars" to one night starting next season; NBC already scaled back "The Biggest Loser" last year.
To be sure, we'll be seeing summer's ABC's "The Bachelor" and "The Bachelorette" again, as well as NBC's "America's Got Talent."
NBC will continue to focus on "The Voice" as its main programming gun in the fall and spring periods. Fox stands pat with "X Factor" in the fall; "American Idol" in the spring. Other lessor Fox efforts continue with "Hell's Kitchen," "MasterChef" and others.
This upfront season TV networks seems to be saying: Reality is still an important component. But we want to work on material that typically separates us from lesser networks -- cable channels in particular, which program much more reality overall.
But will new reality shows starting up in key, crucial periods in the fall? Look what happened to Fox when it moved its summer reality dance competition show "So You Think You Can Dance?" to the fall. How did NBC's "The Sing-Off" do in the tougher September start time versus its safer holiday season start a few years back?
Even with declining ratings, TV broadcast networks seem to have learned some lessons. Let cable make hay with A+E's "Storage Wars," E's "Keeping Up with the Kardashians," Bravo's "Real Housewives" franchise, or MTV's "Teen Mom."
You may be right. The competition format is definitely wearing thin. But the reality format seems most successful on cable when it examines real people in interesting unscripted situations: choosing a wedding gown, pawning an item, buying/remodeling a house. Add to that the odd assortments of subcultures like duck hunters, trailer trash/gypsies, and Amish). By not going "full reality" (to paraphrase Tropic Thunder), the major networks may be squandering some opportunity. I recall a very popular show in the early 1980s called Real People. Maybe NBC could reprise that old idea.