Art & Commerce

Under Development The six over-the-air broadcast networks recently briefed ad-agency media buyers on the 126 series now on the drawing board: 78 comedies and 48 dramas. The biggest drama will be which of them makes it onto the fall schedules when the lineups are announced next month. Several years ago, the networks were let back into the program production and syndication businesses; now, each net has ownership positions in at least some of this year’s development crop. The WB network, about to expand to a fifth night, has an ownership position in eight of the 17 shows in its development stable. If even a handful of them prove popular, the network could reap a double windfall. On the other hand, ABC has a stake in only four under-development shows, the lowest percentage among any of the networks. The folks at TN Media, who monitor network activity closely and collected the statistics cited here, are not ready to handicap the new shows. Once the fall schedules are released, however, we expect the hit-or-miss predictions to fly. But several trends are already apparent: Animators are being kept busy, owing to the success of King of the Hill and South Park, and the ’70s are back via remakes (Fantasy Island) and settings (1973). –Alan Gottesman (westendal pobox.com) is principal of West End Consulting.


THE GOTTESMAN FILE

With 78 comedies and 48 dramas in development, the networks have ownership positions in 35 percent of these megahit wannabes.

……….Comedies…..Dramas…..No. owned…..% owned*
…..ABC…..15…..10…..4…..16.0%
…..CBS…..10…..9…..6…..31.6%
…..Fox…..14…..8…..10…..45.5%
…..NBC…..20…..7…..12…..44.4%
…..UPN…..8…..8…..4…..25.0%
…..WB…..11…..6…..8…..47.1%

Source: TN Media. *% of shows in which networks have an ownership stakee