TV Upfronts by the Numbers: Volume Flat as Number of Cancellations Plummets

Despite a number of new executives calling the shots, it's largely status quo at the broadcast networks.
Michael Parmelee/CBS
CBS ordered a spinoff of Dick Wolf's freshman drama 'FBI,' called 'FBI: Most Wanted.'

Following a somewhat muted wave of renewals, cancellations and new series orders, the five broadcast networks peddled their 2019-20 lineup this week to Madison Avenue ad buyers, hoping that one of the family comedies, spinoffs or dramas 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 remained flat with last season's seven-year low as ABC — not the sports-heavy new Fox Entertainment — ordered only six new series (its lowest tally since at least 2013). While ABC and CBS were both down year-over-year, Fox doubled its scripted fare, and NBC and The CW were even with a year ago.

Here's a closer look at how the networks are preparing for the 2019-20 season, as well as the (almost) final word on the 2018-19 season. To see how the studios fared, click here for THR's annual scorecard.

TOTAL VOLUME SNAPSHOT

2012: 37
2013: 54
2014: 54
2015: 49
2016: 42
2017: 39
2018: 36
2019: 36

Total scripted series orders in 2019: 36 (35 in 2018)
Dramas: 22 (22 in 2018)
Comedies: 14 (14 in 2018)
Single-cam: 5 (5 in 2018)
Multicam: 6 (7 in 2018)
Animated: 3 (none last year)

ABC
In its first upfront since acquiring Fox's TV studio — and landing execs Peter Rice and Dana Walden — the Disney-owned broadcast network, topped by Karey Burke (who replaced Channing Dungey as entertainment president), opted for stability. The network has a renewed focus on its returning shows and opted to dramatically reduce volume with its six orders ranking as its lowest tally since at least 2013.

Big swing: Only picking up six new shows.

Series orders: 6 (10 last year)
Dramas: 4 (5 last year)
Comedies: 2 (5 last year)
Single-cam: 1 (4 last year)
Multicam: 1 (1 last year)

Renewed: 16 (Agents of SHIELD, American Housewife, Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, The Goldbergs, The Good Doctor, Grey's Anatomy, How to Get Away With Murder, Modern Family, Station 19 and freshman series Bless This Mess, The Conners, The Rookie, Schooled, A Million Little Things, Single Parents)
Last year: 13

Canceled: 6 (For the People, Speechless, Splitting Up Together and rookies The Kids Are Alright, The Fix, Whiskey Cavalier)
Last year: 14

Awaiting word on Grand Hotel (premieres in June)

CBS
In Kelly Kahl's second season at the helm of the network (and the first without CEO Leslie Moonves pulling the strings behind the scenes), as David Nevins settles in as chief creative officer at both Showtime and CBS, TV's most-watched broadcaster made a big play for multicams in its bid to fill the massive Big Bang Theory-sized hole in its schedule.

Big swing: Are ordering shows from the likes of Dick Wolf, Chuck Lorre, Robert and Michelle King, Patricia Heaton and Walton Goggins swings? Fine, we'll say Wolf's FBI: Most Wanted, a spinoff of a first-year show that had three showrunners and just lost its star.

Series orders: 8 (9 last year)
Dramas: 4 (5 last year)
Comedies: 4 (4 last year)
Single-cam: 1 (none last year)
Multicam: 3 (4 last year)

Renewed: 18 (Blue Bloods, Bull, Criminal Minds, Hawaii Five-0, Madam Secretary, MacGyver, Man With a Plan, Mom, NCIS, NCIS: New Orleans, NCIS: Los Angeles, SEAL Team, SWAT, Young Sheldon and rookies FBI, God Friended Me, Magnum PI, The Neighborhood)
Last year: 20

Canceled: 6 (Big Bang Theory, Elementary, Life in Pieces, Fam, Happy Together, Murphy Brown)
Last year: 8

Awaiting word on The Code, Red Line, Instinct

Fox
Fox Entertainment CEO Charlie Collier, in his first year on the job, wants his newly independent broadcast network to feel scrappy — and his new-series pickups deliver on his intention with big names in bold concepts alongside a massive bet on animation. And, with such a big bet on sports — football, baseball and wrestling, oh my! — many industry watchdogs anticipated "New Fox's" scripted volume would take a hit, but the opposite wound up being true.

Big swing: Ordering three new animated comedies.

Series orders: 10 (5 last year)
Dramas: 6 (2 last year)
Comedies: 4, including 3 animated (3 last year)
Single-cam: none (none last year)
Multicam: 1 (3 last year)

Renewed: 8 (911, Bob's Burgers, Empire, Family Guy, The Orville, The Resident, The Simpsons and ABC "rookie" import Last Man Standing)
Last year: 11

Canceled: 8 (The Gifted, Gotham, Lethal Weapon, Star and rookies The Passage, The Cool Kids, Rel, Proven Innocent)
Last year: 8

NBC
Paul Telegdy and George Cheeks, in their first year since taking over for entertainment president Bob Greenblatt, opted for the status quo. The network renewed the bulk of its schedule and kept volume largely in line with past years. Launching a new comedy is NBC's top priority.

Big swing: Musical-themed Perfect Harmony and midseason play Zoey's Extraordinary Playlist

Series orders: 9 (9 last year)
Dramas: 5 (6 last year)
Comedies: 4 (3 last year)
Single-cam: 3 (2 last year)
Multicam: 1 (1 last year)

Renewed: 14 (The Blacklist, Blindspot, Chicago Fire, Chicago Med, Chicago PD, Good Girls, The Good Place, Law & Order: SVU, Superstore, This Is Us, Will & Grace and rookies Brooklyn Nine-Nine (first year on NBC), Manifest, New Amsterdam)
Last year: 13

Canceled: 1 (Rookie I Feel Bad)
Last year: 13

Awaiting word: Midseason fare A.P. Bio, Abby's, The Enemy Within and The Village (none of which are expected back)

The CW
If ever there was an example of stability, it's The CW this season as Mark Pedowitz renewed a network-record 14 series. Its three new series help fill the void created after final seasons of Jane the Virgin, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend and iZombie.

Big swing: IP! All three of its orders are based on well-known properties: a Riverdale spinoff, new DC drama and teen sleuth Nancy Drew.

Series orders: 3 (5 last year)

Renewed: 14 (The 100, Arrow, Black Lightning, Dynasty, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Riverdale, Supergirl, Supernatural, Charmed, In the Dark, Roswell, All American, Legacies)
Last year: 12

Canceled: 3 (Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, Jane the Virgin, iZombie; all three were announced as final seasons)
Last year: 3

WHO RENEWED THE MOST SHOWS OVERALL

With a blurring line between a hit and a miss, renewals were at 70, up slightly over last year's 69 as ABC, NBC and The CW were all up versus a year ago, helping to offset CBS' and Fox's slight decline.

ABC: 16 (13 last year)
CBS: 18 (20 last year)
Fox: 8 (11 last year)
NBC: 14 (13 last year)
The CW: 14 (12 last year)

WHO CANCELED THE MOST SHOWS OVERALL

Four of the five broadcast networks opted to keep things largely status quo as the overall number of cancellations dropped dramatically from 40 a year ago to 26. (There were 33 cancellations in 2017 and 36 in 2016).

ABC: 7 (14 last year)
CBS: 7 (8 last year)
Fox: 8 (8 last year)
NBC: 1 (7 last year)
CW: 3 (3 last year)

HOW THE FRESHMAN CLASS FARED

Of the 36 new series ordered for the 2018-19 broadcast season, 18 (50 percent) are returning as eight await word on their futures. That's better than last season's 18-for-39 (46 percent) showing.

ABC: 6 for 10, .600 (5 for 13, .384 last year); TBD: Grand Hotel
CBS: 4 for 9, .444 (4 for 8, .500 last year) TBD: The Code, Red Line, Instinct
Fox: 1 for 5, .200 (4 for 6, .666 last year)
NBC: 2 for 7, .428 (3 for 8, .375 last year) TBD: A.P. Bio, Abby's, Enemy Within, The Village
CW: 5 for 5, 1.000 (2 for 4, .500 last year)

Source: THR research

See what's new, renewed and canceled at every network with THR's scorecards for ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW. For complete upfronts coverage, bookmark THR.com/upfronts.