The Gist: Viewer interest this fall stems from reboots, network moves, and notable names in the TV space. This pilot season, viewers aren’t very interested in original IP.
In May, networks spent days presenting the 2018 Upfronts; a rundown of shows we can expect to premiere on major networks this fall. While we’ve predicted winners and losers of the pilot season before, we won’t truly know if they’re certified hits until the numbers come back the day after the premiere. However, through the magic of our platform, we can measure interest and intent to watch months before the shows sink or swim on air.
We asked viewers about intent to watch 12 shows across four networks. From our research, here are a few high-level insights we can share about intent to watch new shows this Fall.
Networks Benefit from Picking Up Cancellations
As networks canceled shows this spring, other networks have picked them up in an ever-evolving game of musical chairs for media. Out of the gate, it looks like FOX has a win on its hands with the acquisition of ABC’s canceled Tim Allen vehicle “Last Man Standing”.
It doesn’t hurt that viewers are already aware of this show, as compared to brand new premieres, but intent to watch “Last Man Standing” blows every other sitcom out of the water this fall. In echoes of the “Roseanne” ratings high earlier this year, Allen’s politics might push the show towards higher viewership. Allen has previously vocalized his support of President Trump. As politics push into every aspect of our entertainment, it should come as no surprise that viewership of “Last Man Standing” follows party lines. Republicans are almost twice as likely to watch this show.
When FOX announced the cancellation of the sitcom “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” earlier this month, it was almost immediately picked up by NBC. While intent to watch this show isn’t the highest across the board, Millennials are much more likely to watch “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” when it premieres mid-season on NBC. These are young sitcom fans, often still living with their parents. In addition, NBC shouldn’t anticipate high live viewership—they’re twice as likely to be streaming video viewers.
It wouldn’t be a proper upfront season without some reboots in the mix. We measured intent to watch for both CBS’s “Magnum PI” and The CW’s “Charmed”. “Magnum PI” has some of the highest intent to watch numbers across all the networks…
…while “Charmed” ranks on the lower end across all genres of television.
However, it’s not always about the total intent to watch, but the composition of each group. While split across genders evenly, Baby Boomers are much more likely to be interested in watching “Magnum PI”. This makes sense, considering the dates the original show was aired–clearly there’s a nostalgia factor at play.
On the other hand, Millennial and Gen Z women are much more likely to watch “Charmed” than any other demographic. Maybe they caught the original “Charmed” in syndication, but it doesn’t necessarily signal nostalgia. It may be a reboot, but “Charmed” is the show with one of the youngest audiences premiering this fall.
Name Recognition is Key
In the age of binge-watching and seasons of shows dropping in a day, name brand recognition goes a long way. Shows with notable names attached saw a boost in intent to watch–and we don’t even mean the stars of the shows.
This effect is most notable in CBS’s “FBI”, a procedural about the New York office of the department produced by Dick Wolf. While his name might not be known in every household, his previous work, “Law & Order” is. Attaching Dick Wolf’s name and “Law & Order” to the show attracts the highest intent to watch of any drama premiering this Fall.
These respondents know exactly what they’re in for–they’re twice as likely to watch TV dramas, and fans of TV (sitcoms, reality, and travel shows) across the board. “FBI” watchers are much more likely to be women, specifically Baby Boomers.
A similar effect occurred around NBC’s Amy Poehler-produced “I Feel Bad”. While Poehler doesn’t appear in the show, her brand of comedy drew an audience most likely familiar with her work—women, particularly Millennials and Gen X, are more likely to watch the show. This group is more likely to watch sitcoms overall, and are more likely to be DVR users.
And an Outlier
Like most instances in research, there’s an outlier in upfront trends. It’s not a reboot, network switch, or have particularly notable for creators, but NBC’s “Manifest” has a high intent to watch across a varied demographic. Women are overall more likely to watch this “mystery thriller,” with Gen Z showing the most interest.
This audience over-indexes when it comes to technology usage. They want a VR device, own a smartwatch, and tell friends about brands and technology. They choose TV based on social media and are active Twitter users. The mystery element of “Manifest” could be a win when it comes to live-tweeting and viewership.
In today’s media landscape, it seems that name recognition still counts when it comes to TV. Reboots or familiar producers lend an air of credibility, and of course, no show is ever truly canceled. We’ll check in on these numbers when these shows premiere this fall, but for now, mark your calendars and set your DVRs—or just power up the streaming service of your choice to check out these new shows.