The State of Broadcast at TCA: Who Has Most at Stake?

Which directions are ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC, and The CW going?

Last Updated: January 7, 2016 @ 4:54 PM

TCA may has been in full swing for a week, but the powerful broadcast networks have had to wait for their turn at the plate. When the time comes for ABC, Fox, CBS, the CW and NBC to woo the critics at the Beverly Hilton, which networks will wow the crowd and which will fall flat?

Broadcasters are facing increasingly stiff competition from cable networks and streaming services, so making a strong impression at the annual press tour is essential. Here is who TheWrap believes has the most to gain, and the most to lose.

Most to Lose: NBC
This one is simple: NBC has now finished first in the key 18-49 demo ratings two seasons in a row — so there’s only one direction to go, and it’s not up. And sans the Super Bowl, NBC will have a tough go of three-peating. Give the edge this season to CBS, home of Super Bowl 50.

That said, come summer, NBC’s Olympics coverage will surely help, and the network could compete over the full 52-week season. The good news for NBC is this: It still has “Sunday Night Football” and “The Voice,” plus “Heroes” is back! But keep an eye on that Colbert fella, Jimmy Fallon.

Grandfathered

Most to Gain: Fox
Conversely, Fox finished the fall in fourth place — not a good look for Dana Walden and Gary Newman’s debut season. That said, the duo certainly inherited some problems that they can’t fairly be blamed for. They also inherited “Empire,” which they produced but was ordered by their predecessor, Kevin Reilly. It became TV’s top-rated drama and is expected to return to much fanfare this September.

Fox is also high on John Stamos‘ “Grandfathered” and dramedy “Scream Queens.” There’s nowhere to go but up — though we suppose a lateral move is always possible.

Most to Gain: CBS
CBS has plenty to look forward to going into the fall. First up, Stephen Colbert takes over “The Late Show” on Sept. 8. The former Comedy Central talk show host has been keeping himself very visible in the media in recent weeks, posting a number of viral videos with his own humorous slant on current events.

The network will also exclusively broadcast Super Bowl 50 on Feb. 7. That will mark the 19th time CBS has broadcast the ever-popular sporting event, the most for any network in history.

ABC

ABC

Most to Gain or Lose: ABC
ABC finished the fall season in the exact middle of the pack, behind NBC and CBS and in front of Fox and the CW in both the key 18-49 demographic ratings and among total viewers. Finishing third isn’t so bad — the season before, Fox topped ABC thanks in large part to Super Bowl rights — but it’s not great. And in reality, ABC will probably finish in third place again next season, setting the bar on Shondaland Thursdays, but still lacking any NFL programming punch.

That said, at the time of this writing, ABC is currently leading the summer thanks to a particularly strong NBA Finals — so that’s something to smile about. More good: “The Muppets” could make for a fun and exciting TCA panel. Probable bad: With “Dr. Ken” already banished to Friday nights, not all of ABC’s new shows come with a ton of momentum. This teeter-totter is too close to call.

Least to Lose: CW
CW has renewed all eight of its original shows for next season, and only one of its three new shows will premiere first thing this fall, that being “My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.”

The network is partnering “My Crazy Ex-Girlfriend,” an hour-long dramady, with breakout series “Jane The Virgin,” hoping to launch the freshman series with the pairing. However, given its small slate of new shows and ratings success with its returning shows, CW just needs to maintain the status quo.

ABC kicks off the broadcast portion of the TCA schedule Tuesday morning.