TCA Summer 2016 Tour: Quick Takes from the NBC Presentations

Twice a year, various cable and networks attend the Television Critics Association’s Press Tour where they promote new and returning television shows through a series of daily panels and exclusive preview clips spanning over a two week period. The tour presentations provide a way for television shows to get traction and attention of the hundreds of TV critics who then in turn will hopefully write about and promote those shows to their various audiences via online and print media outlets.

This Summer’s TCA tour included presentations from NBC, who presented on the seventh day of the tour. Here are some of the featured television shows and specials that caught our attention:



NBC won the #1 spot in 18-34 demo for the cumulative 52 week season of 2015-16, as it did in for 2013 and 2014 seasons.
NBC tied the #1 spot with ABC in primetime entertainment series (not counting football, sports, event programming).

THE VOICE still pulls in 29 million viewers each week even with seasonal declines in the ratings. Alicia Keys and Miley Cyrus are joining Blake Shelton and Adam Levine for Season 11.

Chairman Bob Greenblatt said that SUPERSTORE ratings for its 1st episode ended up tying THE VOICE’s 1st episode for last season (when totaled over 4 month period). As a show of confidence, NBC airs a special SUPERSTORE Olympics-themed episode on Friday, August 19, 2016, two nights before the closing ceremonies. SUPERSTORE also moves to Thursday nights and is paired with THE GOOD PLACE for Fall 2016. He believes that because CBS airing football for 8 weeks in the Fall that it will give SUPERSTORE and THE GOOD PLACE their best chance to breakout before THE BIG BANG THEORY and the other CBS comedies returns to Thursday nights.

Jimmy Fallon is hosting the Golden Globes, which airs Sunday, January 8, 2017.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s CELEBRITY APPRENTICE will premiere in January 2017.
CHICAGO MED moves to Thursday nights for Fall 2016 with Season 2 premiere on September 22, 2016.

Points of interest:
Bob Greenblatt also said NBC is in discussions about an over-the-top (OTT aka AppleTV, Chromecast, Roku) offering, expects to have something to talk about in a couple months, which joins CBS All Access and the other OTT devices that merge internet on demand and streaming with the traditional TV set for big screen viewing. Then President Jennifer Salke noted that NBC’s investments in Vox, Buzzfeed, Snapchat are venues to create “alternative” content for NBC Universal.


The Opening Ceremony airs Friday, August 5, 2016.
This is anticipated to be the most watched and broadcast Olympics in the history of the Olympics.
10,500 athletes participating in this year’s Olympics.
This is the first Olympics to ever take place in South America.
(Impression: It is a bad sign that the Olympics commentators made me feel like reaching for my TV remote to turn the channel. The year is 2016, and the outdated news commentary format needs to be scraped and a new way to interact with the viewing audience needs to be explored and implemented. With social media competing, television needs to up its game.)


NBC’s new drama TIMELESS is the story of a soldier, historian and scientist are sent back in time to track down and stop a man who stole a government time machine from rewriting history. For those concerned about the show being tricky to follow, executive producer Shawn Ryan reassuringly described the show as: “TIMELESS is much more like BACK TO THE FUTURE or QUANTUM LEAP than 12 MONKEYS.” Co-executive producer Eric Kripke added that it is more of a historical adventure show and that one of the specific time-travel rules they are sticking to is: “You cannot go to any point that you exist.” So no worries about the characters running into themselves at an earlier point in their own lives. In addition, they are keeping the time-travel to the past few centuries, as the farthest they planned to go for the show going is 1750, the French and Indian War, which is useful as Kripke explained: “[History] allows us make commentary on things that are happening today.” The show stars Abigail Spencer as the historian, Matt Lanter as the soldier, and Malcolm Barrett as the scientist, and Goran Visnjic as the madman who stole the time machine. Abigail Spencer said what hooked her right away was that the mystery that will be revealed over time, such as why Goran’s character seems to believe that there is a good reason for what he is doing. Right away viewers are going to be challenged as whether the characters should change things, or leave them as they are for each trip into the past. But rather than made changes that will have a big “butterfly effect,” per Eric Kripke the changes that the characters will see relate more to their own families — not the world at large. They wanted the show to be relatable, and not too brain-boggling and twisty. So any changes to history will be more on a personal level. NBC President Jennifer Salke said that for NBC, the appeal of TIMELESS was that viewers are invested in ensemble of characters right out of the gate. As a fun teaser, among the eras TIMELESS will be visiting in Seaion 1 are: the Hindenburg explosion, President Lincoln’s assassination, The Alamo, Watergate, Germany in World War 2 and even meeting the the Rat Pack in Vegas. As the team race to stop Goran Visnjic’s character, they will visit extraordinary places in recent history. So the show is more a cat-and-mouse chase than puzzle-board mystery. (Impression: One potential twist in NBC’s TIMELESS is: what if the madman who stole the government time machine to change history and future was actually a hero? What then? After all, now that I have seen Syfy’s 12 MONKEYS, I can totally see how a man thought to be a madman intent on changing the future could be the hero of the story.) The TIMELESS adventure begins Monday, October 3, 2016 on NBC. Be sure to check it out!


NBC’s new family drama THIS IS US explores the question of family, whether by blood or choice, and how our choices resonate into the future. THIS IS US stars Mandy Moore, Milo Ventimiglia, Justin Harley, Sterling K. Brown, Chrissy Metz, and Gerald McRaney. For those wondering about the four separate storylines initially presented in the show, executive producer Dan Fogelman reassured that the characters’ stories are interconnected and all receive equal time. Once viewers see how the first episode brings them together, the interconnectedness will feel more significant. Fogelman said regarding the show’s heartfelt and heart-warming story that: “It’s the right time for a show with a little hope, a little optimism. . . I love [the show] so much it scares me . . . It felt larger than life. It felt about humanity.” To create that depth of lie felt between Milo and Mandy’s characters, Milo remembered: “I basically said to Mandy that from action to cut, ‘you are my wife and let’s make something entertaining’.” So Mandy Moore and Milo clicked as a couple right from the first audition and that chemistry is felt on screen. (Impression: NBC’s family drama THIS IS US is surprisingly sweet and heart-warming. It is all about a wonderful family and those they embrace into their lives.) THIS IS US premieres September 20, 2016 on NBC.


The new comedy series THE GOOD PLACE stars Kristen Bell and Ted Danson, along with William Jackson Harper, Jameela Jamil, and Manny Jacinto about a woman who is mistakenly sent to the “good place” rather than the “bad place” after she dies. Basically, Kristen Bell’s character gets to the “good place” after she dies and finds out it is a case of mistaken identity and that she was not supposed to be there after all and it is about her funny attempts to impersonate or pass as a “good” person after living her whole life as a “bad” person. It is also about the effects of one’s behavior rippling out over time that is key to the show. Even with its outrageous premise, executive producer Mike Schur reassured that the first season was carefully plotted so that did not fly off rails, particularly, as Kristen Bell makes being a “bad” person really charming.” (Impression: THE GOOD PLACE is cute and funny. If it can maintain that bar, I am in for the season. Random observation: Too bad when fun shows air on different networks as it would be awesome to see Kristen Bell’s character share scene with Fox’s Lucifer Morningstar.) THE GOOD LIFE premieres September 19, 2016 on NBC. (It is paired with SUPERSTORE on Thursdays.)


Episode 1 of Season 2 of THE BLINDSPOT serves to help viewers play catch-up, but it will fall back into the tattoo-of-the-week format quickly. However, in keeping with the new timeslot at 8:00 p.m., Season 2 will emphasize more of a sense of fun and lighter character moments, though executive producer Martin Gero hastened to explain: “We don’t want the show to totally reinvent itself.” For those wondering just what is Jane’s real identity: that will be revealed in the first episode of Season 2. Also upcoming will be reveals on just what is Orion and how Shepherd fits into everything. Gero added: “We want to really reward the people who stuck with us last season.” He also promised that Rich DotCom will be back by Episode 7. Joining the show in Season 2 are newcomers Archie Punjabi and Luke Mitchell. Archie plays the head of an NSA group, who is tough, tenacious, wild, unpredictable. The details regarding Luke’s character are still to be revealed. (Impression: Love addition of Archie Panjabi and Luke Mitchell to Season 2 as their characters are sure to amp up the layers of mystery) Season 2 returns BLINDSPOT September 14, 2016 at 10:00 p.m., then moves up to its new 8:00 p.m. on September 21, 2016 on NBC.


As a special treat, SUPERSTORE gets an extra episode that airs August 19th two days before the Closing Ceremonies for the Rio Olympics. When the show resumes on September 22nd for its send season, the second half of the Season 1 finale cliffhanger will be concluded. Star America Ferrera said to expect some unexpected romances in Season 2 as there are other cast members who will be having romances. Other storylines that come up are: the morning-after pill, open carry of guns, trans bathrooms and undocumented immigrants. Season 2 of SUPERSTORE resumes on Thursday, September 22, 2016 on NBC.


Alan Wurtzel, President of Research and Media Distribution, provided yet another analysis on the state of television ratings on NBC.
Wurtzel noted that there are four key drivers of change: pace of change, tech advances accelerate, tectonic shifts in consumer attitudes and behavior. He attributed growth in technology saturation to prevalence of smartphones, tablets, OTT and smart TVs, which prompted Wurtzel to proclaim: “The DVR’s reign is about to end” because, people watch as much video as ever or more, but they watch it in different ways with non-Nielsen measured platforms showing the most growth.

In fact, the average person streams approximately 90 minutes of television a day. SVOD and new media has contributed to changing viewing behavior: such as, delayed viewing is the new normal, and increased curation with the new ways to watch available, and the cross-platform behaviors. According to Wurtzel’s data, Netflix currently has 47 million subscribers, Amazon has 17 million and Hulu at 12 million subscribers — and those numbers are still increasing. So watching TV live has become a choice, not a default anymore and over half of the population of viewers time-shift, even if they are there to watch live.

The other notable revelation is that younger viewers do not watch new episodes when they air as they prefer to accumulate and binge-watch later. Curation is therefore essential to help people find content as 79% of viewers said they are more picky than they used to be and 60% of 18-34 said the wait until they hear good things about a show before sampling.

The biggest and key point derived from NBC’s data was: people would watch more primetime broadcast TV, if they could catch up. More than 50% said that they will not start watching a current TV show, if they cannot access or watch past seasons. Interestingly, 75% of 18-34 year olds say they would watch more TV, if they could easily catch up on all the episodes. In sum, the impact of digital on television viewing has been: change in the composition of audience, extends its reach, and leads to audience growth.

So SVOD is not growing exponentially and is not as significant not as huge as people think as 80% of viewing tends to be on the night a show is broadcast. Thus, SVOD is a compliment, not a replacement to watching live television and streaming is used primarily used to catch up. (Interesting sidenote: Starting this Fall, NBC has full in-season rearing/streaming rights for all primetime shows, except THE BLACKLIST and LAW AND ORDER: SVU, which should generate significant revenue for NBC off all its shows.)

That’s a wrap on the network and studio presentations from Day 7 of the Summer 2016 Television Critics Association Tour. As a reminder: be sure to mark your calendars for the upcoming new series and specials as you do not want to miss out on the next great TV show that everyone will be talking about.