TV Networks Might Need Their Streamers To Sustain Impressions, Viewer Interest

TV networks might be doing a backward version of what Netflix does -- going in the opposite direction of allowing “binging” of a TV show’s new season of episodes.

ABC and NBCare launching new comedies now -- with initial debut episodes in mid-December, then delaying the rest of the episodes until January.

ABC’s first-year comedy “Abbott Elementary” will start as a lead-out to the network's now annual end-of-the-year series “Live in Front of a Studio Audience" special. A pair of NBC rookie shows, “American Auto” and “Grand Crew,” will make their debuts the week of Dec. 13  —  after and before NBC’s big singing competition show, “The Voice.

All three shows will then go to regular time slots on January 4.

While there is some waiting time for potential TV consumers, networks feel that big special or season-ending TV series are increasingly a rare place to get new shows launched. Shows like “The Voice” offer big rating lead-ins for series that follow.



Still, it’s not like those shows are disappearing from view for a couple of weeks. For example, ABC has confirmed that “Abbott Elementary” will appear on sister streamer Hulu in those intervening weeks.

We have no confirmation the two NBC debut episodes of its two comedy shows will go to Peacock. But it’s a pretty good guess they will land there soon after their linear TV debuts.

But is this enough? Consumer behavior is rapidly changing, thanks to Netflix, which releases a season’s worth of shows  — new or existing series — all at once. All to give consumers the greatest flexibility to content they desire.

Few others have followed in Netflix’s footsteps. But we know what Netflix does is popular with subscribers.

Legacy TV networks need to quickly build their streaming platforms to showcase what they are losing on linear TV networks: Big impressions grabbing on-air promotions that sit alongside high-paying TV spots on traditional airwaves. That drives show sampling.

Just look how far Netflix has come over the years in this vein — now with 74 million U.S. subscribers. That platform then gets to see — via its home entertainment guide page as one scrolls to offerings — long TV series and movie promotional messages to entice subscribers.

Though not on the level of some 100 million-plus U.S. viewers that virtually all linear TV broadcast networks claim, it is a healthy platform for program promotions.

If networks aren’t ready to release a season's worth of TV programs — a la Netflix —  it needs a better game plan from its streamers to get the word out.

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