The fall TV season, beyond Jay Leno

September 14, 2009

What’s that? Jay Leno is moving to prime-time? You don’t say!

Frankly, it’s hard to remember the last time there was such hubbub about a TV show. It was, after all, the cover story in Time magazine. Not to be outdone, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Reuters, AP, and probably every local news outlet between New York and Hollywood had a story about the talk show host — more often than not raising the question of whether he’s going to save network TV.

(You’ve got to give it to the public-relations machine on this one. They really worked the story. Of course, their spinning was augmented by a huge marketing effort. Stuart Elliott of the New York Times today estimated that NBC put out more than $10 million in promoting the show).

But there is more to the fall TV season than Jay Leno. The media buyers and planners over at  RPA offer a useful road map to the season in a recent report.

Their take on the fall season is fairly upbeat (maybe network TV doesn’t really need Leno to save it).

“For the first time in two years, network fortunes will not be held hostage to the industry’s labor problems, but will be determined, as they used to be, by content quality and scheduling… Based on what we’ve seen, the overall quality of that content looks better than it has in the past two seasons,” the report says.

Here, according to RPA, are some things to keep in mind heading into the season:

  • The five broadcast networks will debut 21 shows, accounting for 22 percent of scheduling hours.
  • Dramas and dramedies (a mix of comedy and drama) will increase from 43 percent to 48 percent of the schedule’s hours. Comedies will rise from 10 percent to 17 percent.
  • Not a single new fall show is a foreign co-production (which had been looking like a trend until now).
  • Medicine is hot, with three hospital dramas debuting this fall and a fourth starting midseason (“Trauma,” “Mercy”, “Three Rivers,” and “Miami Trauma”).
  • Paranormal is big, too. Four new shows built around that theme will land this fall (“V,” “Eastwick,” “Flash Forward,” and “Vampire Diaries”).

Oh, and Jay Leno is moving to prime-time.

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