Inside ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC’s decision to reembrace a single fall TV premiere week
“There’s a seasonality to broadcast television. It’s one of the unique and special things about it, so we’re leaning hard into that,” said Burke, adding that ABC viewers grew up on broadcast TV.
With so many other outlets fighting for viewer attention, a single premiere week “creates an event-type atmosphere for broadcast television, where one show premiering the week of Oct. 20 is much harder to build a lot of momentum around,” said Law.
Plus, with so many delayed viewing options, audiences no longer worry about having to choose between multiple shows premiering at the same time. “It brings back what broadcast television always was, and in a way, how people still think about it,” Law continued.
This especially applies now that CBS and NBC are no longer forced to disrupt their fall lineups as a result of broadcasting a partial Thursday Night Football package, which caused some of their fall debuts to delay until November. In 2016 and 2017, “the Thursday night comedies had to time-period share with Thursday Night Football,” said NBC Entertainment co-chairman Paul Telegdy.
CBS, however, said it might not stick to a single fall premiere week every season.
“Some years, depending on the strength of your nights, you might want to take more of a rolling thunder approach across a traditional premiere week,” said Kelly Kahl, CBS Entertainment president. “And some years, you just think it’s more advantageous to wait two or three weeks to put some shows on.”
Then again, as CBS and its other broadcast rivals have shifted from airing in-season repeats to as many original episodes as possible, “the sooner you can start the shows, the sooner you can make some room to get another show on,” said Kahl.