Broadcast Networks Profess Optimism

By Andrew Gauthier 

Broadcasting & Cable

While last year’s anthem was that broadcast is broken, this year network executives are convinced they can put it back together. The drumbeats that broadcast networks were going the way of the Betamax were never louder than in the first half of 2009. While network executives maintained a happy face publicly, primetime was roughed up by the lingering effects of the WGA strike, and a confusing and disappointing upfront ad selling season only amplified its death knell.

But the scatter ad market turned in better results later in the year, and the fall TV season delivered promising new entries such as Fox’s Glee and The Cleveland Show, ABC’s Modern Family and Cougar Town, and CBS’ NCIS: Los Angeles and The Good Wife. This good news was cause for relief, and even some optimism, among network execs. “The often-filed story of woes of TV and the death of network TV are going to be premature,” says Fox Entertainment President Kevin Reilly.

In addition to the new shows that are poised for further growth in the coming year, a batch of more established shows, such as CBS’ NCIS and Big Bang Theory, also are on the uptick. “2010 will be the year of established hits that continue to grow,” says one network executive. More…