The Current TV Landscape

It has been argued that the strongest writing currently exists in television rather than feature films. There is more money available to writers in television and many shows are virtually straddling features in terms of cinematic quality and budget.

Television stories have traditionally been structured as either series (sequential stories;must be viewed in order to make sense) or serial (largely standalone that can be viewed out of order). The ideal series currently contains a series element in a serialized episode. This bodes well for syndication.

Here’s the overall character of various networks in terms of what they are looking for:

ABC (owned by Disney) looking for family – light ‘Disneyesque’ entertainment

A&E – ‘real life. real drama’ slogan. Edgy drama e.g The Glades, Storage Wars, Intervention

AMC – classic genre such as drama. Characters are nuanced and flawed. They are never good or bad, but morally ambiguous e.g Breaking Bad, Mad Men, Walking Dead.

BET (Black Entertainment Teleivision)- African American target audience

CBS – Consistently rates the best by catering to the flyover states (middle America). They like procedurals and comedies.

COMEDY CENTRAL – Edgy comedy and stand up comedians.

DISNEY – kids, pre school, tween, teen, family

E – mainly reality and magazine celebrity programs; now moving into scripted

FOX – mystery and intrigue. Like longer character arcs that stretch over several seasons.

FX (cable arm of FOX)- Gritty with blue collar feel e.g. Sons of Anarchy. Darker comedy eg Wilfred, Always Sunny in Philadelphia and the animated Archer

HALLMARK – family but worthy and earnest. Explores social issues.

HBO – Push envelope. Big budget and cinematic e.g. Game Of Thrones. They also like female driven material e.g Girls.

IMC – quirky, alternative comedy targeting young demographic e.g Kids In The Hall

MTV – Primarily reality but moving back into scripted television. Aiming for the hip crowd.

NBC– edgy, looking to try new things, younger demo. They are in last place for ratings of terrestrial broadcasters so they can take risks.

NICK – kids 5- 16 years old, pre-school to tween.

SHOWTIME – drama and comedy. They really push boundaries on nudity and sex e.g Weeds, Californication, Shameless

STARZ – Drama and action. Not so much comedy. Looking for edgier fare.

SYFI – science fiction, paranormal

TBS – ‘very funny’ slogan- comedy

TNT – We know drama. Not too dark, but distinctive. e.g. Falling Skies, Leverage.

TV1 – African American demographic

USA – ‘characters welcome’ slogan. self contained character and story arcs, dubious chars e.g White Collar lighter drama,


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