CBS Renews Many Shows, But When Will They Air?

For the big broadcast TV business, CBS offered some consistency this week -- a renewal of 15 scripted TV series, as well as three new shows. The news came during a TV preseason lacking live upfront presentations.

What’s missing? When those shows will start -- and what advertisers will buy in.

TV has benefited recently from a surge in viewing -- traditional, time-shifted and streaming. At the same time, production of TV shows for next season has all but stopped, hampered by social-distancing and a general business shutdown.

This has TV and media executives thinking about a bifurcated start to the TV season -- some in September, some in January.

Broadcast TV upfront presentations had originally been scheduled for next week -- now cancelled, delayed or moved to virtual video-streaming presentations. 

Leaving CBS airwaves is 5-year-old comedy “Man With a Plan,” rookie midseason comedy “Broke,” last fall's rookie comedy “Carol's Second Act”: and first-year drama “Tommy.”



Veteran hourlong dramas “Criminal Minds,” “Elementary,” “God Friended Me,” “Hawaii Five-0” and “Madam Secretary” all ended their runs earlier this season.

Coming back: All three “NCIS” series, “Blue Bloods," “Bull,” “MacGyver,” “Magnum P.I.,” “SEAL Team,” “SWAT,” “The Neighborhood,” “All Rise,” “Bob Hearts Abishola,” “The Unicorn” and two “FBI”-themed shows. Non-scripted returners are “60 Minutes,” “48 Hours” and “Undercover Boss.”

All of which begs the question of what will advertisers be buying -- and when. Rough estimates are that perhaps only 30% of seasonal upfront inventory will be sold at the start of September, with the rest coming before midseason starts in January.

What kind of TV in September? Perhaps a lot more reruns -- which, in theory, have already rerun this current season. Some networks, like Fox, have pushed a couple of summer-starting new shows to the fall.

While many marketers prefer a calendar-year start, September has been a key launch for others -- automotive advertisers (in the fall, new versions of models are pushed) as well as back-to-school marketers.

TV networks typically pump out a lot of on-air marketing messages in the summer to amp up promotion of fall shows.

Now, the thinking is December will be the new big marketing launch spot -- which isn’t entirely new and different.  In recent years, TV networks have regularly talked up midseason launches.

One thing for is sure: Christmas and holiday TV marketing will take on a whole different look. Gifts will be optional.

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