Which Fall Shows Are Getting Broadcast Networks' Extra Love (and Money)
Not all broadcast series get the same push, and those given a helping hand — including 'Scream Queens,' 'The Muppets' and 'Supergirl' — may survive longer.
This story first appeared in the Sept. 25 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.
Even as the volume of scripted TV surges, broadcast execs share a universal gripe each fall about the futile act of promoting dozens of new series at the same time. Which shows get an extra push may reveal the ones with the best chance of survival.
"If you try everything at once, you will end up accomplishing nothing," says Fox Television Group COO Joe Earley. Thanks to a long lead time and the involvement of celebrity showrunner Ryan Murphy, Earley has been promoting the horror-comedy Scream Queens since February.
A flow of viral teases and a variety of stunts — like the pop-up roller coaster debuted at Comic-Con — have given Scream Queens the highest awareness (32 percent) of any new show not based on existing intellectual property. "Because of how our fiscal year breaks," says Earley, "we got a lot of last year's and this year's budgets to build this campaign."
Existing franchises still are most likely to succeed and still considered ad priorities. While ABC is making a big push for its soapy Sunday efforts Blood & Oil and Quantico, the network's golden child of the fall is The Muppets, which boasts a wildly uncommon 62 percent awareness. The network is using that to perform some marketing double duty by including Scandal's Kerry Washington and Black-ish star Tracee Ellis Ross among the many sharing the spotlight with the puppets in this aggressive campaign.
NBC is leaning on stunt marketing for its high hopes in the mystery drama Blindspot and the reboot Heroes Reborn. The network is setting up camp in New York's Times Square over four days in September to lure fans with social-media-friendly photo booths.
Supergirl, another familiar title, has a late premiere (Oct. 26), but that hasn't stopped CBS from hammering the airwaves with clips of the Melissa Benoist drama since the first trailer grossed an auspicious 14 million viewers.
"It's a pre-sold title," says CBS Marketing Group president George Schweitzer. "People know the concept; our job is to let them know it exists."