2018 Upfront Season: Reboots, Multicams Aplenty as Volume Drops and Greg Berlanti Rocks

Following the cavalcade of renewals, cancellations, and series orders this week, the building blocks of the 2018-2019 season are falling into place.

The total number of new shows ordered by the Big Four networks and CW looks to be down again this year, with the networks once again picking up most of their shows from in-house studios. Multi-camera comedy orders surged while reboots and spinoffs remain as popular as ever — thank you “Roseanne.”

Greg Berlanti has scaled new heights in selling three series (two to CBS, one to CW) that takes his tally as a producer to a record 13 shows, with a roster of 10 broadcast dramas, one for cable (Lifetime’s “You”) and two for streaming platforms (Netflix’s “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” and DC Universe’s “Titans”).

As the networks prepare to raise the curtain next week during upfront programming presentations in New York, here’s a look at the trends and highlights of this year’s development season.

Reboots, Revivals, and Resurrections 

Reboots and revivals of pre-existing brand names were in demand at the broadcast networks. The CW ordered new versions of “Charmed” and “Roswell,” with the reboot of the latter now known as “Roswell, New Mexico.” At CBS, Jay Hernandez will take the wheel of a new rendition of “Magnum P.I.”

That said, CBS passed on a reboot of “Cagney and Lacey,” while ABC passed on “Greatest American Hero” and “Get Christie Love.”

CBS had previously ordered a 13-episode installment of “Murphy Brown.” NBC and ABC have also renewed revivals of “Will & Grace” and “Roseanne” respectively.

Meanwhile, two shows that were previously canceled were brought back on different networks. The Tim Allen multi-cam “Last Man Standing” will return for a seventh season on Fox after being cancelled by ABC last year. “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” was then cancelled at Fox after five seasons on Thursday, only for NBC to pick the show up for a sixth season on Friday.

Another Low Volume Year

Barring any late pick ups, the number of shows ordered this year will be down from last year, which was itself a five-year low. Thus far, 36 shows have been ordered for the 2018-2019 season, including “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Last Man Standing.” That is down from 38 for the 2017-2018 season, and down further still from 42 greenlit for 2016-2017.

The network totals break down as follows:

ABC

2018 series orders: 9 total (6 dramas, 3 comedies)

2017 series orders: 12 total (8 dramas, 4 comedies)

CBS

2018 series orders: 9 total (5 dramas, 4 comedies)

2017 series orders: 8 total (4 dramas, 4 comedies)

Fox

2018 series orders: 5 total (2 dramas, 3 comedies)

2017 series orders: 7 total (5 dramas, 2 comedies)

NBC

2018 series orders: 8 total (5 dramas, 3 comedies)

2017 series orders: 8 total (5 dramas, 3 comedies)

CW

2018 series orders: 5 total

2017 series orders: 4 total

Multi-Cams Make Big Comeback

Multi-camera comedies are poised to have their biggest season in years on broadcast television. Eight multi-cams have been ordered at the Big 4 this year, up from just four the year prior. In fact, the 2018-2019 season will see the largest number of new multi-cams launch going back to at least 2012.

The renewed affinity for the tried and true format comes after the launch of the “Roseanne” revival on ABC stunned the industry when it pulled in staggering ratings for its premiere and has remained one of the top-shows on TV ever since. Yet surprisingly, ABC was the only one of the broadcast networks to order no multi-cams for next season. CBS has ordered four, while Fox has ordered three, with NBC ordering one.

The Berlanti-verse Continues to Expand

It’s good to be Greg Berlanti. The incredibly prolific producer will have 10 shows on broadcast for the 2018-2019 season. Of those, six air on CW: returning shows “Arrow,” “The Flash,” Supergirl,” “Black Lighting,” “Legends of Tomorrow,” and “Riverdale;” and the new CW football drama “All American.”

CBS has ordered the Berlanti-produced dramas “God Friended Me” and “The Red Line,” and NBC has renewed “Blindspot” for a fourth season. Berlanti is also an executive producer on the upcoming shows “You” at Lifetime,” “Chilling Adventures of Sabrina” at Netflix, and “Titans” on the DC streaming service DC Universe.  That brings Berlanti’s total number of shows to 13.

Vertical Integration Is Still the Name of the Game

Yet again, it was not a good year to be an independent studio. The broadcast networks, in keeping with the past few years, largely ordered new series from their vertically aligned studios. All five of Fox’s orders hail from 20th Century Fox Television, though that will be a Disney-owned studio once the $52.4 billion merger between the two companies is complete.

ABC ordered three shows from outside studios: comedies “Schooled,” the 90s-set spinoff of “The Goldbergs” that hails from Sony, and “Single Parents,” which hails from 20th TV, as well as the drama “Whiskey Cavalier” from Warner Bros. Television. “Schooled” was the only new Sony project ordered on broadcast for next season.

NBC picked up drama “Manifest” from Warner Bros. WBTV also sold three shows to CBS, including the revival of “Murphy Brown.” CBS previously gave a straight-to-series order to Dick Wolf’s “FBI,” which is a co-production between Universal Television and CBS Television Studios.

The CW ordered two shows from CBS TV and three from WBTV.

(Pictured: Greg Berlanti)

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