2016 Fall TV Intelligence and Cultural Relevance

Peter Mayer Agency

Fall TV Intelligence

Along with cooler temperatures it brings, fall’s the prime time of year that entertainment aficionados and media professionals eagerly await. Rates are set, viewing patterns are established, hits and misses emerge, and new stars are born, setting the tone for the rest of the television season.

While it’s still early in the fall season, some new shows are already off to promising starts.

Fall TV Preview
Bull, CBS
  • Bull on CBS is drawing strong numbers as a result of its NCIS lead-in and star Michael Weatherly.
  • Buoyed by tremendous social buzz and a record-breaking 70 million+ views for the trailer on Facebook and YouTube, NBC’s This Is Us is a hit among the coveted age 18-49 demographic, already garnering a full season commitment.
Fall TV Preview
The Exorcist, FOX

To date, shows performing under expectations are The Exorcist and Pitch on FOX, as well as Notorious and Conviction on ABC.

So why might TV content hit or miss? Cultural trends are a major influence on both television programming and scheduling. Here are the 4 big trends we’re watching this year.

  • Diversity/Inclusivity is Inspiring – As television programming becomes a more accurate reflection of U.S. diversity, more storylines are developed around inclusivity, starring varying types of Americans in all situations.
    • A promising show debuting this year is ABC’s Speechless, which features one of the first actors with cerebral palsy to grace the American small screen.
    • Diversity and inclusivity are not just limited to the actors on screen, but the show runners behind the screens such as Shonda Rhimes, who has reinvented Thursday nights with multiple award-winning programs featuring strong, multi-ethnic female leads.
  • The Non-Traditional Family Is the New Normal – A loving family is no longer represented by the traditional nuclear family makeup of a man, woman and 2.5 children. As society becomes more accepting of the vast differences amongst families, those diverse structures are now more commonly featured on television.
    • Transparent on Amazon celebrates a family learning to love and accept its transgendered head.
    • The Fosters on Freeform features a gay couple raising a multicultural household of adopted children.
    • FOX’s Son of Zorn features a mixed family: animated and live action.
Fall TV Preview
Son of Zorn, FOX
  • When It Comes to TV, We’re All Millennials Consumption characteristics commonly ascribed to millennials actually reflect what we all want from media in the modern world: instant gratification, no commitments and 24/7 custom entertainment. The newest attempt to appeal: truncated seasons. Networks and content providers are producing new shows that run for 10-13 episodes per season. This trend allows for taut storytelling, participation of A-list actors who might not otherwise be willing or able to commit to a longer contract, and a greater number of shows on the air, which provide for more variety for the viewer and less risk for the network.
  • What’s Old Is New Again – On the slate this season are revivals and reimaginings of titles such as Lethal Weapon, MacGyver, Gilmore Girls and The Exorcist. This strategy is a favorite of the networks, because built-in sampling is guaranteed based on a mix of nostalgia and the desire to share fond memories with the next generation of fans. In addition, you will see the reoccurring theme of time travel across networks with NBC’s Timeless and The CW’s Frequency, as well as mid-season offerings to come.
Fall TV Preview
MacGyver, CBS

All of this information gives advertisers a lot to consider. Here are our top tips:

  • Context matters. Reach and connect with your consumers on a more personal level within programming that is a direct reflection of their lifestyles and families.
  • Are you after loyalty or a quick burst of attention? Year-long appointment television is a benefit for viewers and advertisers; fresh, original programming always tops repeats in ratings, engagement and social buzz.
  • Put a toe in the water before jumping in. New programming is exciting, but somewhat risky. We advocate a conservative approach to incorporating new shows in schedules until early season sampling has concluded and viewing patterns are clearly established. Also consider counterprogramming, historical time period performance, lead-ins and -outs, and previous performance of thematically similar programming.

Overall, there are more original viewing options than ever before for viewers to savor and for advertisers to incorporate into media schedules. Happy watching!

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