Multicamera sitcoms hit a milestone last month when two freshmen, NBC’s Whitney and ABC’s Last Man Standing, were renewed for a second season. It marked the first time a freshman multicamera comedy on a broadcast network other than CBS has made it to Season 2 in five years, since ‘Til Death was awarded a second season on Fox in 2007. Overall, three freshman multicamera comedies, including CBS breakout 2 Broke Girls, went to a second the season, the most in a decade. But despite that major achievement, multicamera comedies lost ground as the single-camera/multicamera divide between CBS and the rest of the broadcast networks deepened this upfront.
ABC, NBC and Fox ordered a combined 14 new comedy series this year, the same as last year, but the number of multicamera comedies dropped by more than half. Of the 14, 5 or 36% were multicamera last year. This time, the number has fallen to two, or 14% — ABC’s Malibu Country and NBC’s Guys With Kids. Fox will have no multicamera series on the air next season, while ABC and NBC will have two each, Malibu Country and Last Man Standing (ABC) and Whitney and Guys With Kids (NBC). In a sign of the hard time the multicamera format has had outside CBS, when ABC recently decided to re-pilot CBS’ Rebel Wilson comedy pilot Super Fun Night, it opted to convert it from multi- to single camera.
It has been a similar rough sledding for single-camera comedy at CBS. After flirting with the idea of launching its first single-camera comedy series in four years, since the 2008 Worst Week, the eye network eventually passed on its Nick Stoller single-camera pilot, keeping its comedy lineup 100% multicamera. CBS enters next season with eight multicamera comedy series on the air, twice the other broadcast networks combined.