Scott D. Pierce: Family TV dead; ‘Idol’ dying; sci-fi thriving
Here are a few things we learned from this week’s upfronts, when the networks presented their fall schedules to advertisers:
• This isn’t exactly news, but ABC re-emphasized the fact that the networks are not in business to babysit your kids. It’s moving "Grey’s Anatomy" to 7 p.m. on Thursdays.
It’s clearly not suitable viewing for children, whether it’s 8 p.m. Eastern and Pacific or 7 p.m. Mountain and Central, but ABC Entertainment president Paul Lee called the move "appropriate" and said concern about such a move is "much less relevant than it was five years ago."
Frankly, I was a bit surprised by the move, but even more surprised that Lee fielded so many questions about it. After all, CBS airs the vile, racist, sexually charged sitcom "2 Broke Girls" on Mondays at 7 p.m. — and there are many other examples of shows not appropriate for kids airing at times when kids can watch them.
Again, the broadcast networks are not babysitters. If parents aren’t paying attention to what their kids are watching on TV, they’re not doing their jobs.
• Fox has finally accepted that "American Idol" will never be a big hit again, but the thinking is that the show will be with us for many years to come.
" ‘Idol’s’ not going to come back to being the ratings champion it once was," said Fox Entertainment chairman Kevin Reilly. "But we believe the show can be on the air for many years to come … as a potent time-period contender."
To that end, there will be 37 hours of "Idol" next season (instead of 50-plus), and it will air once a week for most of its run.
Reilly went on to say that "Idol" could transition "in the same way that ‘Survivor’ hasn’t been at the top of the ratings for many years and it has vital seasons year after year."
It’s worth pointing out that "Survivor" (in the midst of its 28th season in 14 years) is beating "American Idol" (13 seasons in 12 years) on Wednesdays.
And the singing competition genre is in decline. Fox canceled "The X Factor," and while NBC’s "The Voice" is still hot, Reilly was quick to point out that since that show debuted in 2011, "it’s been down every quarter that it’s been on. So that’s just what’s been happening in that particular category."
• Sci-fi/fantasy/superhero shows are now the mainstream.
There are a dozen such shows that fall into that category on the five networks’ schedules. The only network that doesn’t have a sci-fi/fantasy series is CBS, and it has the ultimate geek show: "The Big Bang Theory."
And, by the way, there are 10 more shows in this genre coming our way at midseason on ABC, NBC, Fox and The CW. But not CBS.
Sci-fi/fantasy — it’s not just for geeks and nerds anymore.