TV Upfronts by the Numbers: Total Volume Continues to Slide as Cancellations Rise

Mitch Haaseth/ABC

Following a frenzy of renewals, cancellations and new series orders, the five broadcast networks pedaled their 2018-19 lineup this week to Madison Avenue ad buyers, hoping that one of the family comedies, This Is Us-like soaps or reboots can become the next breakout hit. Now that the dust on the annual upfront presentations in New York has settled, it's time to crunch the numbers.

Total volume matched a seven-year low as Fox, which landed 30 hours of the NFL on Thursdays, was down slightly (while lowering the ax on a number of favorites). Three of the five broadcasters saw volume increase (see you on Sundays, CW). Multicamera comedies, thanks to the breakout success of Roseanne, nearly doubled this season with the "New Fox" getting back into the genre for the first time in years.

Here's a closer look at how the Big Five networks are preparing for the 2018-19 season, as well as the (almost) final word on the 2017-18 season. Click here to see how the studios fared.


2012: 37
2013: 54
2014: 54
2015: 49
2016: 42
2017: 39
2018: 37

Total scripted series orders 2018: 37 (39 in 2017)
Dramas: 24 (26 in 2017)
Comedies: 13 (13 in 2017)
Single-camera: five (nine in 2017)
Multicam: seven (four in 2017)


Despite saying farewell to flagships Scandal, Once Upon a Time and The Middle, Channing Dungey's Disney-owned network delivered the breakout drama (The Good Doctor) and comedy (Roseanne) of the 2017-18 season. Despite high-profile cancellations of Designated Survivor and Quantico, on top of the tentpole shows that wrapped, the network's volume was down a third year-over-year. On the ownership front, ABC Studios provides the bulk of the network's roster which is peppered with series from Sony, Warners and 20th.

Big swing: The Rookie, picked up straight-to-series, brings Castle star Nathan Fillion back to the network. 

Series orders 2018: Nine (12 last year)
Dramas: six (eight last year)
Comedies: three (four last year)
Single-camera: three (three last year)
Multicamera: none (one last year)
(Three straight-to-series: dramas Take Two and The Rookie, comedy Schooled, which was rolled from last season.)


In his first season as entertainment president, Kelly Kahl made a concerted push for multicamera comedies and bet big on reboots (Magnum P.I.) and revivals (Murphy Brown). High-profile cancellations included veteran Scorpion and Kevin James' Kevin Can Wait, with Code Black remaining on the bubble. To fill the procedural void, CBS went straight-to-series on FBI, from Law & Order mastermind Dick Wolf. On the ownership side, CBS deals with everyone.

Big swing: Murphy Brown

Series orders 2018: Nine (eight last year)
Dramas: five (four last year)
Comedies: four (four last year)
Single-camera: zero (two last year)
Multicamera: three (two last year)
(Two straight-to-series: Dick Wolf drama FBI and the Murphy Brown reboot.)


Meet the New Fox. Gone are single-camera comedies (farewell, Last Man on Earth) and in are broad multicamera comedies (hello, Last Man Standing) as the Dana Walden- and Gary Newman-run broadcaster prepares for life post-Disney merger. As part of the tonal shift, Fox re-entered the multicamera space for the first time since Mulaney in the 2014-15 season. After landing 30 hours of Thursday Night Football, volume at the network was down a smidge. On the ownership front, Warners (Lethal Weapon, Gotham) is the only outside studio with programming on New Fox.

Big swing: Reviving Tim Allen's Last Man Standing in favor of critical darling Brooklyn Nine-Nine, which was produced by an outside studio.

Series orders 2018: five (seven last year)
Dramas: two (five last year)
Comedies: three (two last year)
Single-camera: zero (two last year)
Multicamera: three (none last year)


Bob Greenblatt's network kept things business as usual amid its almost immediate decision to revive its studio's Brooklyn Nine-Nine following Fox's cancellation. The network now has a comedy equivalent to Dick Wolf in Mike Schur, who has Brooklyn, The Good Place and new arrival Abby's on the schedule. On the ownership front, NBC's biggest hit This Is Us is from 20th as the network also has deals with Sony and Warners.

Big swing: Lost-like drama Manifest

Series orders 2018: nine (eight last year)
Dramas: six (five last year)
Comedies: three (three last year)
Single-camera: two (two last year)
Multicamera: one (one last year)
(One straight-to-series: The Gilded Age, which is being targeted for 2019.)

The CW

Mark Pedowitz's younger-skewing broadcaster is expanding programming to six nights a week starting in October. So while volume is up ever so slightly, you also have to factor in that the network renewed everything outside of The Originals, which is ending this season. 

Series orders 2018: five (four last year)


With a blurring line between a hit and a miss, renewals were down slightly from last year (70 vs. 71 last year).

CBS: 20 (18 last year) (awaiting Code Black)
ABC: 14 (14 last year)
Fox: 11 (14 last year) (awaiting Ghosted, L.A. to Vegas)
NBC: 13 (14 last year) (awaiting Marlon, Timeless, Trial and Error, Champions, L&O: Menendez)
The CW: 12 (11 last year)


The number of canceled shows inched up this season to 39, with ABC taking the lead by a landslide. (33 in 2017, 36 in 2016).

ABC: 13 (10 last year)
Fox: eight (eight last year)
CBS: eight (seven last year) 
CW: three (four last year)
NBC: seven (four last year) (awaiting Marlon, Trial and Error, Champions, L&O: Menendez)


Of the 39 new series ordered for 2017-18 broadcast season, 18 (.462) are returning as eight await word on their futures.

ABC: 5-for-13 (.384)
CBS: 4-for-8 (.500)
CW: 2-for-4 (.500)
Fox: 4-for-6 (.666)
NBC: 3-for-8 (.375)

Here's how the rookie class of 2017-18 performed, by studio: 

CBS TV Studios: 4-for-10 (.400)
Universal TV: 3-for-9 (.333, Reverie, Menendez, Champions TBD)
ABC Studios: 3-for-8 (.375)
Warner Bros. TV: 3-for-8 (.375)
20th TV: 4-for-6 (.666, Ghosted, L.A. to Vegas TBD)
Sony TV: 2-for-3 (.666)

Keep track of all the renewals, cancellations and new show orders with THR's scorecards for ABCCBSFoxNBC and The CW and with all the latest pilot pickups and passes with our handy guide. For complete coverage, bookmark