Since 2012, Ad Age has had an informal editorial partnership with TVGuide.com focused on its Watchlist, a customizable entertainment guide that lets users make a list of their favorite shows, actors, etc. We keep a close eye on Watchlist because each season the top 10 most Watchlisted new shows tend to have a high probability (averaging 80% over the past four years) of being picked up for full seasons. Think of Watchlist as a massive "wisdom of the crowds" focus group (with more than 3 million registered users) of informed TV fans.
A caveat we repeat every time: Watchlist users are, essentially, publicly expressing hope that these shows will live up to hype. Series that exhibit early promise and score full-season orders can and do, of course, still end up getting canceled later on (as hype gives way to reality, storylines run out of steam, networks stick good shows in bad time slots, etc.).
To add some context to this chart, TVGuide.com Editor-in-Chief Mickey O'Connor offered Ad Age a few thoughts on the fall's most-wanted new series:
• "IP ('MacGyver,' CBS, No. 3; 'Lethal Weapon,' Fox, No. 5; and 'Frequency,' CW, No. 8): As usual, it's the intellectual property that gets the early attention. A recognizable title saves the network millions in promotional costs, but it's a risk. For every 'Friday Night Lights' or 'Hawaii Five-0,' there are shows like 'Rush Hour' and 'Minority Report,' both of which crashed hard last season. That said, 'MacGyver,' 'Lethal Weapon,' and 'Frequency' have remained stable in the rankings since May."
• "The struggle continues: Six of the top 10 shows have female protagonists, but the top three are fronted by straight white men. Only three of the top 10 shows have a lead actor of color and none feature LGBT lead characters."
• "Where's the comedy? In our experience, fewer people add comedies to their Watchlists early, often waiting to sample a couple of episodes first. As a result, there is only one comedy in the top 10, 'The Good Place' (NBC, No. 9), starring TV vets Kristen Bell and Ted Danson."
• "'Designated Survivor' (ABC, No. 1): People loved '24' and they loved Kiefer Sutherland in it. I think the assumption (albeit false) that this great new drama about the Constitutional order of succession is about 'President Jack Bauer' has fueled its nearly continuous reign as the No. 1 most-added show since the upfronts in May."
• "'Bull' (CBS, No. 2): The ever-charming Michael Weatherly left a cushy job on 'NCIS,' aka network TV's No. 1 show, to headline this courtroom drama based on the early years of Dr. Phil (yes, you read that right -- Phil McGraw started out as a jury consultant). Weatherly has a passionate fan base -- and 'Bull' is nestled in the timeslot right between 'NCIS' and 'NCIS: L.A.' in the fall."
• "'Timeless' (NBC, No. 4), 'The Good Place' (NBC, No. 9) and 'This Is Us' (NBC, No. 10): "These new series got the lion's share of promotional juice this summer, thanks to ads running during NBC's coverage of the Summer Olympics in Rio. 'The Good Place' has stayed put at No. 9, while 'Timeless' has jumped two spots and 'This Is Us,' our biggest mover since May, has jumped three."