Last week, Adweek looked at all 19 of the new fall TV broadcast shows to determine which ones are worth watching and most worthy of a media buy. As the new shows begin premiering this week, several media buyers have pointed to some of the same freshman programs as being the most likely to connect with audiences this fall: Young Sheldon, The Good Doctor and Ten Days in the Valley.
Beyond their top picks, however, there’s little agreement about the prospects for the 2017-18 season. While some buyers saying they’re more optimistic about the new fall lineup than they’ve been in ages, others deem this the most buzz-free freshman slate in a long while.
The safest, surest bet, according to buyers, is the Big Bang Theory prequel Young Sheldon, which is CBS’ attempt to turn TV’s most-watched series into a franchise. The comedy features Jim Parsons’ Big Bang character, Sheldon, as a 9-year-old growing up in East Texas in 1989.
“I rolled my eyes when they first said it was going to come on,” said Betty Pat McCoy, svp, managing director and director of investment, GSD&M. “But it’s actually touching. It reminds me of The Wonder Years. I think that will do well.”
Carrie Drinkwater, svp, group director of investment activation, Mediahub, agreed. “That’s a great option for clients to take a bet on,” she said
The only potential stumbling block, McCoy said, is CBS’ decision to not air a second episode of Young Sheldon until Nov. 2, a move that even CBS Entertainment president Kelly Kahl admitted was “unusual” for the network. “That gets you a little bit nervous that people may have found other programs and they’ll miss it,” McCoy said. “But Big Bang is so strong that I think that people who watch that will want to check this out.”
Several buyers were also optimistic about ABC’s The Good Doctor, which stars Freddie Highmore as a fledgling surgeon with autism and savant syndrome. “This one was a bit unique,” said Nick Hartofilis, evp of national investment, Zenith. “The concept of developmental disorders and characters has been applied to TV, but this felt like a deeper dive, which is compelling. If the writing holds up, that could have real staying power for that network.”
Another ABC drama, Ten Days in the Valley, starring Kyra Sedgwick as a TV producer and single mom whose daughter goes missing, also scored high marks from buyers. “There was a mystery and a bit of a twist to the character,” said Maureen Bosetti, chief investment officer, Initiative. “I thought the acting and the production values seemed really good, and the storyline was very intriguing versus a procedural storyline. It’s in the vein of shows on a Netflix or a Amazon that have more intrigue and mystery to them, which could be successful for a broadcast TV program.”
Drinkwater said she was excited for the return to TV of “great actresses” like Sedgwick and Edie Falco, who stars in NBC’s Law & Order True Crime: The Menendez Murders.
Buyers also were generally optimistic about the revival of Will & Grace. But McCoy said her office is “mixed” on the show. Those who watched the original run are excited for its return, but younger staffers are immune to its nostalgia. “I’m going to love see whether they can get those younger viewers to watch it like we used to,” McCoy said.
CBS’ Wisdom of the Crowd, starring Jeremy Piven as a Silicon Valley magnate who creates a new crowdsourcing app to help find his daughter’s killer, had the most divisive reaction among buyers, who either loved it or loathed it. Hartofilis gave it a thumbs up. “That was the pilot that felt like it had the best mix of ingredients like talent, potential chemistry, originality, relevance,” he said, “but the major question with that one, and this is going to be the major question with any of these shows, is it going to have legs, and how is the story going to carry through?”