Summer TV: More Reruns, Half as Many Original Shows as Pandemic Shuffles Broadcast Networks’ Plans

Don’t set your DVRs

summer premiere dates shows reruns encores

Summer is always a sluggish time for broadcast television, when networks usually air several staple reality series and competition shows mixed with a handful of new comedies and dramas because they know fewer people will be at home watching during the warmer months compared to the traditional TV season.

But with pandemic-forced shutdowns continuing to halt and delay productions all across the country, there will be even more reruns airing on broadcast this June, July and August than usual, and half as many original series.

Last summer, 53 series aired across CBS, NBC, Fox, ABC and The CW, per our admittedly somewhat informal count. Thus far, there are at least 27 summer series — or about half the tally of last summer’s aired shows — that have been announced with at least partially wrapped production.

This summer’s sum is likely to grow a bit as alternative production processes are implemented, but June 20 we’re running out of spring.

We should note here that while, yes, June 20 is the first day of summer for the U.S., “Summer TV” is a tricky window to define and extra tricky this year as several midseason-show episodes were delayed due to coronavirus shutdowns.

While the summer television landscape in recent (read: “normal”) years hasn’t just been an automatic rerun-dump like it was in prior decades, there will be more encores in June, July and August 2020 than couch potatoes are used to. For starters, NBC loses a full two weeks of Olympics competition, ABC has no idea when it will get the NBA Finals, and we’re all just currently assuming/hoping there will be NFL preseason games.

The arrival of the coronavirus shuttered television productions in mid-March. But before all filming came to a screeching halt, shooting wrapped on several series — both scripted and unscripted — that will be filling broadcast’s primetime slots between encores this summer. Readers can find our list of those series here.