With schedules at the six broadcast networks firmed up for fall, Warner Bros. Television remains the top supplier of network primetime programs for the 11th straight season. However, three studios have surpassed Warner Bros. in total hours of primetime fare for the first time in recent memory.
Despite Warner Bros.’ continued dominance of total shows tallies, Columbia TriStar TV and 20th Century Fox both had milestone years. Columbia sold the most new shows to networks for next season, and 20th Century Fox will produce the most total hours of primetime fare.
Warner Bros. will have 15 shows on the fall schedule, 11 of them returning, the most of any studio and up one from last year’s 10 returning shows. That’s an important distinction because returning shows are more likely to have a backend future in syndication. Warner Bros. also has the most comedies on the air this fall — 14.
In terms of total shows, Columbia TriStar TV and Paramount Network TV/Viacom Prods. tied for second with 13 total shows, while 20th was close behind with 12.
The Warner Bros. primetime total was down from last year’s 17 shows because fewer of its new shows were placed. Last year, Warner Bros. sold seven new shows and had 10 returning; this year, the studio sold four new shows. Unlike its studio rivals, however, none of Warner Bros. new series will air on its own WB Network, and Warner Bros. hasn’t had to give up a financial stake in any of its programs to network buyers.
In total hours of primetime fare, 20th Century Fox, Columbia TriStar TV and Paramount Network TV/Viacom Prods. came out ahead of Warner Bros., which hasn’t happened in recent years.
Twentieth is now on top in terms of total primetime hours, with 10-1/2, followed by Columbia and Paramount/Viacom, which have nine each. Warner Bros. is fourth with eight hours of programming.
Twentieth was certainly given a boost from its sales of three new dramas to its sister Fox Broadcasting Co., although the studio also placed a new comedy and a new drama on ABC. The studio’s heavy drama focus could translate into a strong international backend.
Col tops in new shows
Columbia tops the studios in terms of new shows, with eight shows totaling 5-1/2 hours. Columbia also had the most pilots considered, and it has the most co-productions with the networks — four. Because Columbia doesn’t own a network distribution arm, it may be more willing to give up pieces of its shows in order to get them on the air.
Twentieth was second in terms of new show sales, with five shows totaling 4-1/2 hours. Paramount/Viacom and Warner Bros. each sold four new shows, with Par’s totaling 2-1/2 hours, and Warners’ totaling two hours. Disney sold three new shows. In total, 39 new series will get on the air next season, on par with last year’s 40 new shows.
Of the major players, Universal had the roughest year, with just four shows overall, totaling 3-1/2 hours of programming. That’s half the number it had last year: eight shows totaling 6-1/2 hours.
Brillstein-Grey had the best year of all the indies, with six shows, totaling 3-1/2 hours. Carsey-Werner has no new shows on the fall schedule, but four sitcoms are returning next season.
In terms of network inhouse production, NBC is seeing the biggest increases. NBC Studios will produce all or part of nine shows next season, totaling seven hours, which makes it the sixth-biggest supplier overall. That’s also up from four shows last season. CBS Prods. is producing seven shows totaling six hours for this fall, which is actually down from eight shows last season.
Fox owns the largest portion of its primetime schedule, 11 shows that make up nearly 69% of its total schedule. ABC produces 12 of its primetime shows, totaling 50% of its schedule. UPN produces five programs inhouse, also totaling 50% of its schedule. The rest of the networks own between 28% and 29% of their schedules.
Studio distribution tallies are harder to calculate because financial interest is getting increasingly complex.
“Seinfeld” is a perfect example. Columbia owns distribution rights, but Time Warner also gets a piece of the backend through its ownership of “Seinfeld” production company Castle Rock.
In terms of pure domestic distribution rights for network primetime shows, though, Columbia leads the pack with 19 shows, followed by Warner Bros., which has 17; Twentieth TV, which has 16, and Disney-ABC, which has 14.