Like its fellow broadcasters, NBC has refused to utter the c-word this fall. Along with Fox and ABC, it has trimmed episode orders for four low-rated series but hasn't officially canceled anything, as networks and advertisers would prefer to air even an underperforming original show than a repeat. But while it isn't yet officially taking shows out of contention for next season, NBC has become the first network to solidify its 2016-17 schedule, handing out a trio of renewals.
Yesterday, NBC renewed Blindspot, making the freshman drama—the highest-rated new show—fall's first new series to receive a Season 2 order. Then, late Monday, NBC Entertainment chairman Robert Greenblatt announced he had also picked up Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. for next season. It will be Fire's fifth season and P.D.'s fourth.
While none of these renewals come as a surprise—Blindspot has been a much-needed hit for a network that renewed only one new show last season (The Mysteries of Laura), and the two Chicago series continue to be solid performers for the network, which has a decades-long relationship with Dick Wolf, who executive produces both shows—yesterday's announcements allowed NBC to reassert its dominance in the 18-to-49 demographic and stability to advertisers.
When you add in Sunday Night Football and the presumed return of The Voice, the network already has a large chunk of next fall's schedule solidly in place, coming off NBC's crown jewel next year: the Summer Olympics in Rio. (Yes, Thursday and Friday remain as much of a problem as they have been the past several years, but that is a problem for another day.)
The renewals also come as NBC continues to enjoy a sizable lead over the other networks this season among adults ages 18 to 49. While Les Moonves, CBS Corp. chairman and CEO, said during May's upfront that he was "pretty confident" CBS would wrest the 18-49 ratings crown away from NBC this season, CBS so far remains a distant No. 2, averaging 2.5 to NBC's 2.8. That gap will narrow, and perhaps vanish, after Sunday Night Football wraps on Jan. 3 and CBS broadcasts Super Bowl 50 a month later. But for now, NBC remains on top.
The network hopes its early Chicago renewals will also give a boost to its third Chicago series, spinoff Chicago Med, which premieres Nov. 17.
Don't expect too many networks to follow NBC's lead, though. While broadcasters might announce a handful of early renewals, both ABC and CBS tend to wait until much later in the season—and often on the eve of upfronts—to officially renew most of their shows.