This season, programme buyers hungry for the next big thing on US primetime will begin to scrutinise every new and returning show and speculate whether they would survive the crucial first weeks of the fall schedule. Here are some announcements made:
Twice Upon a Time
Once Upon a Time and Grimm get season two renewals to cast more spells. The Opinion section (pg. 23) asks if the fairy tale genre has enough fairy dust to ward off vampires and werewolves. Adam Horowitz and Edward Kitsis, creators of Once Upon a Time, join in the discussion.
Six Feet Under
Sadly, there were both predicted and unbelievable cancellations. Terra Nova, Pan Am, A Gifted Man, Rob, and Ringer (the Sarah Michelle Gellar comeback) have all been cancelled after their first seasons. Some longrunning series have not been spared as well. Desperate Housewives, House, CSI: Miami and Law & Order are all bowing out.
New/last lease of life
Cougar Town gets expelled from ABC but lands a new home in TBS (phew!). Meanwhile, 30 Rock gets a short (13 eps) but dignified final season for a Tina Feywell.
Some observable programming trends this year:
Just for Laughs
It’s looking like the year will end with comedy, lots of it. Almost 30 sitcoms were announced, as networks try to tickle every funny bone. Building on the success of comedic hits like New Girl, Two Broke Girls, and Two and a Half Men sans Charlie Sheen, the flavour-of-the-season seem to be the 30min dose of laughter instead of an hour’s worth of scares.
A New Fear
Speaking of “scares”, supernatural horror appears to be waning (no new entrant although Vampire Diaries and Supernatural got renewed). However, a resurgence of serial killers would probably incite a new fear. Watch out for NBC’s Hannibal (an FBI profiler seeks to hunt down a serial killer), as well as The Following (Kevin Bacon as a former FBI agent who also seeks to hunt down a serial killer).
While showcasing what’s upand- coming, networks inevitably announce which shows get the boot; many of which are just beginning their Asian run. Adrian Lim finds out from Ricky Ow, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Networks, Asia, Sony Pictures Television, on SPT’s strategy to cope with the changes.
TV ASIA Plus: At the point of acquisition, it will be difficult to gauge a series’ potential. Would it be prudent to wait for renewal season before buying?
We acquire programmes that are a good fit with our channel brands and have the right ingredients to be popular among our audiences in Asia. There are some acquisitions that may be cancelled in the US, but are successful in Asia, so we have to live with cancellations as that is the name of the game in the television business.
TV ASIA Plus: How do you weigh audiences’ unwillingness to wait too long after a US premiere versus the need for buyers to “wait-and-see”?
We never do “wait-and-see” as we always buy in advance to ensure our channels AXN, beTV and Sony Entertainment Television are rich in first-run content. Where possible, we do try to narrow the gap between Asia and US premieres of new series to serve the needs of our audiences. An example will be Teen Wolf Season 2 coming up in June on beTV which will air in the same week of the US premiere.
TV ASIA Plus: CSI: Miami has been cancelled by CBS. What is the immediate plan for AXN’s CSI: Miami Season 10 premiere?
CSI: Miami is a huge series in Asia and David Caruso is extremely well loved. Fans will be treated to a mega celebration of the tenth and final season of the show on AXN.
TV ASIA Plus: Pan Am, A Gifted Man, Rob and Ringer have all been cancelled. Most of these were key promotables for the new beTV. For a channel that just rebranded, this might pose some challenges. How might you cope with audience expectations?
Cancellations are not uncommon, and are part and parcel of the television business. beTV was rebranded to reflect the wider range of programmes introduced to the channel to serve a broader audience. We are already seeing viewers taking to beTV and we will continue to programme the channel with fresh content.
We still have an extremely strong line-up of key “buzz-worthy” programmes including Teen Wolf Season 2, Sherlock Season 2 and 3, Necessary Roughness Season 2, and Supernatural Season 8, and those are just the returning series.
TV ASIA Plus: What are the replacements in the upcoming months and how would these compare?
It is premature to discuss our programming slate at this point, as (at press time) the L.A. Screenings are only taking place, while most returning or new series do not premiere in the US until the Fall. Our strategy, however, remains unchanged and that is to acquire the best shows we think that will fit our channel brands and appeal to our viewers.
In addition to acquisitions, we will continue to offer original productions on our channels. These include Cyril’s Family Vacation: Hawaii Edition, a six-part series featuring world class magician Cyril and his “family” in Oahu, premiering this June on AXN; as well as the upcoming second season of the Thai kick-boxing reality contest series, The Challenger Muaythai.