After ordering roughly 120 pilots, the six broadcast networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox, the WB and UPN) will introduce 38 new shows this season, accounting for 28 hours of programming. Of course, to respond to viewers' ever-changing tastes, network executives and the creators of the shows need to figure out what the public will deem worthy of its attention. Brad Adgate, senior vice president of research at New York City-based Horizon Media, took a look at the new fall shows and provided American Demographics with a rundown of three of this season's most prominent TV trends.
The networks will continue to capitalize on the recent wave of nostalgic programs that proved so popular last season, most notably the retrospective of the classic The Carol Burnett Show (CBS). Two new programs, Do Over (the WB) and That Was Then (ABC) will be set in the 1980s, and two others, American Dreams (NBC) and Oliver Beene (Fox), are set in the 1960s. Look out for TV specials on the lives of Lucille Ball, Jackie Gleason, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis as well as of Ozzie and Harriet Nelson. Also prepare for several remakes of popular programs of yesteryear, including Family Affair (the WB), The Twilight Zone (UPN) and Dragnet (ABC).
Nevada, Arizona and Colorado saw the fastest population growth in the country during the past decade, according to the Census Bureau. Television producers seem to have noticed, as each of these states makes it onto the Hollywood map this season via new shows: Push, Nevada (ABC), Greetings from Tucson (the WB) and Everwood (the WB). California, another rapidly growing Western state, is also the setting for a handful of shows this fall, including Half and Half (UPN), Meds (ABC) and Presidio Med (CBS). Taking a hit are shows set in New England. Even David E. Kelley has chosen San Francisco for his new show, girls club (Fox), over his mainstay Boston.
One of the biggest trends this season may go unnoticed by the untrained eye. Digital technology will provide advertisers with opportunities for product placement by inserting realistic-looking computer generated images of products into live broadcasts or recorded programs. Broadcasters have recently used the technology to alter ads on stadium billboards during live sporting events, but networks will employ the technology this season to change the brand names on cereal boxes, toothpaste tubes and soda cans in recorded shows. The brands can change each time an episode airs, so keep an eye out: A box of Special K on Friends next week could turn into Lucky Charms in reruns! Networks have yet to identify the shows that will use the technique.