Networks

Upfront and Center: Nets Ready to Step Out

A day-by-day guide to the 2017 broadcast upfronts 5/15/2017 8:00 AM Eastern
NBC stars at last year's upfront presentation recreated Ellen DeGeneres's selfie moment from the Oscars.
TakeAway

The major broadcast networks, and a few cable players, are set to step onto New York’s grandest stages and strut their stuff.

It’s upfront week, when the Big 5 broadcast networks and a few bold cable outlets take over New York’s most splendid stages to show off their new programs. The upfront presentations are often derided as too expensive and too inefficient, but none of the major broadcasters seems to want to break from tradition and step off the stage.

Related: Abruzzese’s Guide to the Upfronts [subscription required]

Here’s what to expect this week.

MONDAY (May 15)
NBC takes over the Radio City Music Hall stage Monday morning. It holds a joint upfront for its NBCUniversal networks, including Syfy, Telemundo and USA Network. NBC itself has a fair amount to brag about, including Sunday Night and Thursday Night Football, unscripted stalwarts such as The Voice and the rarest of creatures on TV these days: the hit network show in This Is Us. Telemundo’s evening party entertainment is Enrique Iglesias.

Later on Monday, Fox sets up at the Beacon Theatre. Fox has a lot to prove, without the ratings-hogging unscripted franchise on which broadcast nets rely so heavily, and with an unproven track record of turning old shows and movies into new series.

One old show that will play a key role once again for Fox: The X-Files, which has 10 episodes in the works for 2017-2018.

TUESDAY (May 16)
ABC takes the stage Tuesday at David Geffen Hall in Lincoln Center. Entertainment president Channing Dungey essentially inherited ABC’s shows from her predecessor last year, but the current batch is all her own.

ABC’s reboot of American Idol is major news. The show averaged 11.5 million viewers in its final season on Fox — a far cry from Idol’s heyday, but a pretty robust number in this day and age.

Rookies American Housewife and Designated Survivor earned renewals, while veterans Modern Family, Black-ish and Once Upon a Time are also returning.

ESPN also takes its turn Tuesday, presenting from the Minskoff Theatre, as does Spanish-language media conglom Univision, at the Lyric Theatre, with Shakira set to perform.

WEDNESDAY (May 17)
CBS is hungry for a breakout comedy, and is hopeful that Big Bang Theory offshoot Young Sheldon, about 9-year-old Sheldon Cooper growing up in Texas, can bust out.

Other pilots include Instinct, which stars Alan Cumming and is based on a soon-to-be-published James Patterson novel.

CBS will talk up its stable schedule. The network announced early renewals for 18 series, including five rookie shows.

Wednesday also sees Turner, parent of Cartoon Network, CNN, TBS, TNT, truTV and other cable networks, take over The Theater at Madison Square Garden for its presentation.

Related: Turner’s Levy Thinks Audience Buying Will Grow in Upfront [subscription required]

THURSDAY (May 18)
The CW takes its turn Thursday at New York City Center. Some CW shows win over the critics, but grabbing big bunches of Nielsens is a different story. “There’s a lot of critical acclaim,” says one industry watcher. “There’s not a lot of ratings.”

Perhaps Dynasty, The CW’s reimagining of the ’80s primetime soap, will change that.

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