TV Upfronts By the Numbers: Total Orders Drop as Superheroes, Doctors and Remakes Take Over

Total scripted series are down from 54 to 45 year-over-year as the freshman class of 2014-15 returns 19 series, as well as more trends from upfronts.

Following a challenging 2014-15 season that saw the Big Five collectively cancel 35 of the 54 new comedies, dramas and limited fare ordered to series, the broadcast networks pulled back this year as ABC, CBS, Fox, NBC and The CW ordered another 45 series as they start their search for the next big hit all over again.  

New this year is a slight uptick in multicamera fare despite the fact that CBS abandoned the format this season. Notable can't-miss trends include broadcasters' reliance on intellectual properties — including feature film and TV show reboots — as superheroes continue to remain in high demand.

See more Broadcast TV's New Shows 2015-16

Here's a look at how the Big Five networks are preparing for the 2015-15 season. Click here to see how the studios fared.

Total scripted series orders 2015: 45 (9, with 54 in 2014)  

Dramas: 29* (-5, with 34 2014)
Comedies: 16 (-4, with 20** in 2014)
Single-camera: 10 (-4, with 14 in 2014)
Multicamera: 6 (+1, with 5 in 2014)

*Includes NBC mini The Reaper, Fox's Houdini & Doyle.
**Includes Fox's animated Bordertown.


Following an impressive 2014-15 season that returned a whopping seven freshman scripted series, ABC didn't have nearly as many holes on its schedule — especially factoring in that all of its veteran dramas (save for Revenge and Resurrection) are coming back for more. With a big bet on diversity that paid off (Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, How to Get Away With Murder), the network is doubling down on the same with diverse family fare (Ken Jeong's Dr. Ken, The Real O'Neals and Uncle Buck, the latter of which centers on an all-black family). On the drama side, the network will add a fourth show produced by TGIT mastermind Shonda Rhimes with The Catch, starring Mireille Enos.

Series orders 2015: 10 (-4, with 14 in 2014)
6 dramas (-2, with 8 in 2014)
4 comedies (-2, with 6 in 2014)
Single-camera: 2 (-3, with 5 in 2014)
Multicamera: 2 (+1, with 1 in 2014)


After saying farewell to veterans CSI, The Mentalist and Two and a Half Men, CBS will look to another Criminal Minds spinoff in addition to film adaptations of Rush Hour and Limitless, which will be joined by medical drama Code Black and DC Comics take Supergirl as the network looks to known brands that can cut through the clutter. On the comedy side, the network has abandoned its multicamera push this season in favor of single-camera entries Angel From Hell and Life in Pieces.

Series orders 2015: 7 (-1, with 8 in 2014)
5 dramas (-1, with 6 in 2014)
2 comedies (even with 2 in 2014) 
Single-camera: 2 (+2, with 0 in 2014)
Multicamera: 0 (-2, with 2 in 2014)

See more Broadcast TV's Returning Shows 2015-16


Gary Newman and Dana Walden's first pilot season as network chiefs produced a renewed focus on men, with genre plays Lucifer, Frankenstein Code and Minority Report. On the comedy side, the network will shift from its female-skewing comedy brand (farewell, Mindy Project) as New Girl remains on the bench for January in favor of male-skewing family fare The Grinder and Grandfathered, starring Rob Lowe and John Stamos, respectively, which will be paired with Ryan Murphy's horror comedy anthology Scream Queens on Tuesdays.

Series orders 2015: 10* (even with 10** in 2014)
6 dramas (even with 6 in 2014)
4 comedies (even with 4** in 2014)
Single-camera: 4 (+2, with 2 in 2014)
Multicamera: 0 (-1, with 1 in 2014)

*Includes mini Houdini & Doyle
**Includes animated Bordertown
***Includes straight-to-series Scream Queens, X-Files revival

Read more TV Upfronts: The Schedules, Trailers and Key Takeaways


Despite a disastrous freshman class that returned only drama Mysteries of Laura (so far), NBC's orders are down overall as Bob Greenblatt puts a renewed focus on live programming and limits comedy to Fridays in the fall. Instead, NBC will look for laughs with Neil Patrick Harris' 10-episode variety show Best Time Ever as well as the third season of Undateable — the net's longest-running comedy that is returning with all live episodes and airing in the fall for the first time. On the drama side, Davis Entertainment's John Davis and John Fox are responsible for two hours of NBC's Thursday lineup with The Blacklist joined by rookie The Player.

Series orders 2015: 15* (-3, with 18 in 2014, which includes Heroes: Reborn and Mr. Robinson, which have yet to premiere)
9 dramas** (-1, with 10 in 2014)
6 comedies (-2, with 8 in 2014)
Single-camera: 2 (-5, with 7 in 2014)
Multicamera: 4 (+3, with 1 in 2014)

* Includes straight-to-series orders for Coach, Hot & Bothered and Shades of Blue in addition to The Jerrod Carmichael Show, the latter of which is premiering in the summer, as well as mini The Reaper and import You, Me and the End of the World.
** Includes mini The Reaper, from The Weinstein Co., import You, Me and the End of the World as well as the new Emerald City.

The CW

The younger-skewing network renewed everything save for Hart of Dixie and midseason freshman The Messengers as the network under president Mark Pedowitz has found its groove. With little shelf space, The CW bet on Greg Berlanti and Julie Plec, with the power showrunners juggling three series apiece on the network. Meanwhile, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend — originally developed for Showtime — could finally be the right show to pair with critical darling Jane the Virgin.

Series orders 2015: 3 (-1 vs. 4 in 2014)

See more TV Shows That Failed to Survive the 2014-15 Season


(Does not includes summer fare)

ABC: 17
CBS: 17*
The CW: 10
Fox: 10
NBC: 8 (jury is still out on A.D. and American Odyssey)

* Not including CSI, which will close up shop with a two-hour movie.


Of the 34 dramas ordered last year, only 14 will be back. On the comedy side, five of the 20 half-hours will return for sophomore runs.

ABC: 7-for-14, .500 (vs. 3 returning last in 2014). Returning: American Crime, Black-ish, Fresh Off the Boat, Galavant, How to Get Away With Murder, Agent Carter, Secrets and Lies*
*Awaiting word on summer dramas The Whispers, Astronaut Wives Club.

CBS: 5-for-8, .625 (vs. 2 in 2014). Returning: Scorpion, Madam Secretary, NCIS: NoLa, The Odd Couple, CSI: Cyber

The CW: 3-for-4, .750 (vs. 3 in 2014). Returning: The Flash, Jane the Virgin, iZombie

Fox: 3-for-10, .300 (vs. 2 in 2014). Returning: Empire, Gotham, Last Man on Earth**
**Awaiting word on Bordertown, which was ordered last year but yet to premiere.

NBC: 1-for-18, .055 (vs. 3 in 2014). Returning: Mysteries of Laura***
***Awaiting word on bubble shows A.D. and American Odyssey, neither of which are expected to return; includes Emerald City and Heroes, which have yet to premiere — all of which were included in last year's tally.


After 16 scheduling moves last season, networks opted for stability for 2015-16. Fox moved Sleepy Hollow from Mondays to face TGIT competition on Thursdays; NBC shifted Undateable — now all live for season three — from Tuesdays to Fridays; ABC gave sophomore comedy Fresh Off the Boat a Muppets lead-in on Tuesdays before it returns to open the night after the fuzzy friends end their run. At The CW, spinoff The Originals is finally paired with flagship The Vampire Diaries on Thursday, while Reign shifts to Fridays.

Read more Fall TV: The Full Schedule


While adaptations are always in high demand given built-in fan bases and name recognition, one of development season's biggest trends carried through upfronts as more known-properties landed slots on the schedule. Six movie and TV show remakes/follow-ups were picked up (Uncle Buck, Limitless, Rush Hour, Minority Report, The X-Files and Coach) with all of CBS's five drama orders based on IP including feature documentary Code Black. Fox also boasts Frankenstein, while ABC has The Muppets and NBC boasts spinoff Chicago Med. Meanwhile, the semi-autobiographical family comedy trend shows no signs of slowing down with half-hours based on the lives of Dan Savage (ABC's Real O'Neals), Ken Jeong (ABC's Dr. Ken), John Stamos (Fox's Grandfathered) and NBC's summer bow The Carmichael Show, based on comedian Jerrod Carmichael joining a roster that already includes ABC's The Goldbergs (showrunner Adam F. Goldberg) and Fresh Off the Boat (inspired by Eddie Huang's memoir).


NBC this season will become the only broadcast network without a comic book property. Last season's big swing produced the rare DC Comics misfire, Constantine, with producers WBTV actively shopping the drama. Meanwhile, The CW will add Flash/Arrow spinoff Legends of Tomorrow, and Fox will see Lucifer join Gotham, all of which are based on DC heroes. ABC, meanwhile, put a pin in its proposed Agents of SHIELD spinoff and stuck with the flagship series and critical favorite Agent Carter for a second season, bringing the broadcast comic book show tally to eight, including The CW's iZombie (and up one year-over-year).

Read more TV Upfronts: Meet the Mega Producers


After successfully launching three new spinoffs during the 2014-15 season (CSI: Cyber, NCIS: New Orleans and The Flash), the Big Five will again look to expand built-in fan-bases with Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, Chicago Med and Legends of Tomorrow, the latter of which features an all-star cast of heroes and villains from Arrow and Flash. Meanwhile, ABC's long-rumored Revenge spinoff Kingmakers did not move forward.


As the broadcast networks continue to eschew niche fare (farewell, The Mindy Project) for broader programming, family comedies are seeing a resurgence with series including Dr. Ken, The Real O'Neals, The Muppets, Crowded, Uncle Buck, Life in Pieces, Grandfathered, Coach, People Are Talking andThe Jerrod Carmichael Show.


Following a development season that put a premium on medical dramas, the Big Four made good on their vow to find dramas with a fresh take on the genre as they look to replicate the way How to Get Away With Murder added a new twist to the legal hour. NBC will have three medical shows (returning drama The Night Shift, spinoff Chicago Med and Heartbreaker); CBS has Code Black; and Fox adds Rosewood.

Keep up with all the renewals, cancellations and new series orders with THR's handy Scorecard.

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