In her opening remarks, Anne Sweeney co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group acknowledged the great work being done with the news and daytime dayparts. She spoke of ABC’s commitment to creativity, quality and technology. She also reminded advertisers that TV is the most effective platform to reach their consumers but also stressed the importance of keeping up with new technology. She bragged that ABC was the first network to develop an application for the iPad and that there have been 650,000 downloads of the app to date. They also were able to introduce the capability that disables to fast-forwarding function for its ad-supported VOD content. Finally, she pointed out that ABC represents the intersection where content and innovative technology meets in order to serve consumers and marketers.
Next up was ABC’s newly appointed ad sales chief Geri Wong, who was featured in an amusing Wipeout sketch. She spoke of ABC’s ability to extend advertising reach to new heights across every platform.
Steve McPherson, entertainment chief took us through ABCs new 2010/2011 schedule. Key objectives for 2010/11 are to: attack the ten o’clock timeslot more aggressively, focus on more comedy development and create event television.
The network also bade a fond farewell to Lost which ends it run after six seasons. Mathew Fox (Jack Shepard), looking very depressed, spoke about the show and what it mean to him. Perhaps he is “lost” regarding his next career move (I can relate). He reminded advertisers of the impact that Lost has had on television, and described “No Ordinary Family” and “My Generation” as a pair of shows that that will also “promise to take television to a new level once again.”
Jimmy Kimmel, who normally warms up the buyer/advertiser attendees in advance of the before the upfront announcement, took the stage mid-show and garnered more laughs from the crowd than all of the new comedy highlight clips combined.
With just several days left to the 2009/10 season, ABC is off by 7% in the Adults 18 to 49 demographic and will likely finish the season in third place in total viewers.
Dancing competition series Dancing with the Stars has performed impressively. In the show’s tenth cycle, it managed to defeat Fox’s American Idol in total viewers.
ABC network has also successfully launched a new Wednesday night comedy block. With the exception of the quickly cancelled Hank, hit newcomer Modern Family along with the middle and Cougar Town will all be back next year. On the negative side, it has yet to find the rightful heirs for the departed Lost as well as for the aging Desperate Housewives and Grey’s Anatomy.
Rookie dramas Eastwick, The Deep End and Happy Town were quickly yanked. The eagerly anticipated FlashForward was also a disappointment and it too, won’t be returning for a second season. In fact, of the six freshman dramas launched this season, only the modestly performing V will be back for a second season. Hopefully, this year’s crop of dramas will resonate with viewers.
A total of seven new series (five dramas, one comedy and one reality show) will be added to the fall slate, with another three planned for midseason. Interestingly, there are no new sci-fi series that will lure in the legions of Lost refugees.
Monday night is returning intact with its solid Monday night lineup of Dancing with the Stars followed the third season of Castle at 10 p.m. The drama will now have to square off against CBS’s launch of its remake of Hawaii Five O.
The network leads off Tuesday night with new Greg Berlanti drama No Ordinary Family. The drama is about a family of superheroes who acquire their special abilities after their plane crashes in the Amazon. Many attendees likened it as somewhere between the animated feature, The Incredibles and NBC’s Heroes. Dancing with the Stars Results Show anchors the night at 9 p.m. New gritty homicide detective drama Detroit 1-8-7 airs at 10 p.m. The drama, which is shot documentary-style, stars Michael Imperioli. While 1-8-7 has a great premise, it does represent a very abrupt shift in tone from the lighter and highly female-targeted Dancing. Programming for audience flow still matters.
On Wednesday rookie comedies Modern Family, The Middle and Cougar Town return for sophomore seasons. The Middle opens the night at 8 p.m. followed by the new mutigenerational romantic comedy Better Together at 8:30. Modern Family anchors the 9 p.m. slot. New Jerry Bruckheimer legal drama The Whole Truth, which chronicles the way a case is built from the perspective of both the defense and prosecution, will air at 10 p.m.
ABC’s most ambitious project, My Generation leads off Thursday night at 8 p.m. Like Detroit 1-8-7 and Modern Family, this new ensemble drama is also shot documentary- style. It focuses on the lives of a group of high school students from the class of 2000 and where they are in their lives ten years later. Grey’s Anatomy, now in season seven, and Private Practice will return at 9 and 10 p.m. respectively.
Secret Millionaire, which ABC inherited from Fox, opens up Friday night at 8 p.m. It will be followed by the new medical procedural Body of Proof, which stars Dana Delany (Desperate Housewives) as a neurosurgeon-turned-medical examiner whose expertise helps solve murder cases. The drama will have to square off against CBS’s newly relocated CSI: New York In the hour. 20/20 brings up the rear at 10 p.m.
ABC Saturday Night College Football is back on Saturday night.
For five straight years ABC’s Sunday night schedule returns intact. America’s Funniest Homes Videos opens up the night at 7 p.m. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition airs at 8 p.m. The seventh season of Desperate Housewives airs at 9 p.m. Brothers and Sisters which airs at 10 p.m., now has deal with tougher competition in the hour, the newly transplanted CSI: Miami
New for midseason are the two comedies Happy Endings, about the choices a group of friends have to make when two of them break up with each other and Mr. Sunshine Sunshine, a workplace comedy set in a second-rate sports arena. Sunshine stars Matthew Perry who also executive produces and Allison Janney (The West Wing).
Shonda Rimes’ creator of both Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice brings us new medical drama Off the Map, Think of this new drama as Grey’s Anatomy, set in a jungle.
The Bachelor and V will also be back.
ABC’s fall primetime schedule follows below (all times listed are Eastern):
8:00 p.m. Dancing with the Stars
10:00 p.m. Castle
8:00 p.m. NO ORDINARY FAMILY
9:00 p.m. Dancing with the Stars the Results Show
10:00 p.m. DETROIT 1-8-7
8:00 p.m. The Middle
8:30 p.m. Better Together
9:00 p.m. Modern Family
9:30 p.m. Cougar Town
10:00 p.m. The Whole Truth
8:00 p.m. My Generation
9:00 p.m. Grey’s Anatomy
10:00 p.m. Private Practice
8:00 p.m. Secret Millionaire
9:00 p.m. Body of Proof
10:00 p.m. 20/20
8:00 p.m. Saturday Night College Football
7:00 p.m. America’s Funniest Home Videos”
8:00 p.m. Extreme Makeover: Home Edition
9:00 p.m. Desperate Housewives
10:00 p.m. Brothers & Sisters
Off the Map
Cancelled series: Ugly Betty, Scrubs, Better off Ted, Flashforward, Hank, Eastwick, The Forgotten, Happy Town and The Deep End.
— Shari Anne Brill, Industry Analyst and former SVP/Director of Programming and Strategic Audience Analysis for Carat. You can reach her at [email protected]; and follow her on Twitter @shariannebrill.