It was once considered the holy grail, landing a comedy series on a broadcast network. But now studios may be walking away from the genre as the decades-old broadcast model is becoming increasingly non-viable in the streaming age. Sony TV, which is behind the hit ABC comedy series The Goldbergs, has informally notified networks that it will not be selling broadcast comedies in the current financial model, while Lionsgate TV independently has been contemplating a similar decision and may not be an active half-hour seller in broadcast this coming cycle.
NBC is preparing a new salvo in the streaming-era TV branding wars. As audiences increasingly watch shows like The Good Place and Superstore on other platforms, NBC has launched a new campaign to remind them that these are, first and foremost, NBC shows. And they’re even enlisting a real-life peacock to convey the message, all in support of its just-named Peacock streaming service.
Over the last nine years, ABC has built a cadre of the best comedies on network television. ABC has a smart family comedy embarrassment of riches. There’s no canned laugh track. No clichéd nagging housewives. No cloying children mugging for the cameras. The parents — gasp! — actually seem to be happy to be married to each other. The shows are free of cynicism. What is ABC doing so right?
In a season with relatively few new series, comedy is the proportionately dominant mode, a priority for several of the broadcast networks in rebuilding mode, particularly NBC.
NBC says it wants its existing series to draw new viewers and its upcoming dramas and comedies to have “tons of heart.”
NBC and Fox showcase the networks’ funny sides with comedies scheduled for the fall and for midseason.
Two years after the Emmy-winning ABC series Modern Family became the first out-of-the-gate big comedy hit in years, the genre’s comeback is complete, while dramas appear headed for a down cycle.
Cable seems to have a different idea of comedy, where shows such as Nurse Jackie, Weeds and Californication fit the bill. On network TV, it’s another story altogether.
Nielsen says network comedies are on the rise — 5% higher in viewer engagement versus last year. New comedies are now outperforming new dramas by 7% this year. Nielsen says CBS’s Mike & Molly ranks No. 1 in viewer engagement in all major demographic groups.