It is crazy when you think about it but it’s upfront weekend and the biggest series on broadcast television is yet to be picked up for next season. No one doubts that This Is Us will be back on NBC in the fall yet it’s is quite unusual for a network’s flagship series not to be officially picked up by end of pre-upfront week. NBC is not alone. One of ABC’s most popular comedy series, The Goldbergs, also is yet to be officially renewed. It also falls into the no-brainer/will definitely happen category yet its pickup has gone down to the wire.
Along with The Goldbergs, ABC is yet to renew its spinoff, Schooled, rumored for a possible 13-episode pickup. The most suspenseful renewal this year involves ABC’s new midseason action drama Whiskey Cavalier, which is heavily on the bubble. That is nothing new for producer Warner Bros. TV — just last year, the studio was in the very same situation not on one but two drama series, Gotham and Lethal Weapon, which both scored renewals by Fox on the Sunday before upfronts, hours before the network was to present its lineup to advertisers.
There is a common thread to all these renewals — they all involve an outside studio (20th Century Fox TV (NBC’s This Is Us), Sony Pictures TV (ABC’s The Goldbergs and Schooled) and Warner Bros. TV (ABC’s Whiskey Cavalier).
I have not heard of any particular issues between NBC and 20th TV over This Is Us, which is getting another big multi-year (likely for 3 seasons) renewal fitting for its stature as a commercial and critical mega hit. One likely factor in the delay of the official announcement was ensuring that series creator Dan Fogelman, whose overall deal with 20th TV was coming to an end, would continue on the show. His massive re-up with the studio closed within the past week or so.
UPDATE, May 12: NBC indeed renewed This Is Us for three more seasons.
As for The Goldbergs, which also has been eying a possible multi-year renewal, negotiations between ABC and Sony TV for both The Goldbergs and Schooled have been going on for months with typical haggling over business terms between an unaffiliated network and studio.
UPDATE, May 11: ABC on Saturday renewed both The Goldbergs and Schooled for next season.
As of Friday night, the future of Whiskey Cavalier at ABC was still very much up in the air. As so often is the case with series that are middling ratings performers, I hear the network asked WBTV for significant concessions, and the two sides are going back and forth until/if they can find a compromise. Spy drama Whiskey Cavalier, starring Scott Folley and Lauren Cohan, is a glitzy, big-budget, globe-trotting actioner, which is important to WBTV for its international sale appeal and because of the big investment the studio already has made in it.
After launching behind the Oscars, Whiskey Cavalier has seen its ratings decline until settling into subpar 0.4 adults 18-49 rating (Live+Same Day). The drama is a major DVR gainer, more than doubling its Live+same delivery but it’s starting from a small base. Still, the show has big stars and experienced showrunner, Bill Lawrence, behind it.
UPDATE, May 12: Whiskey Cavalier was canceled by ABC on Sunday, with studios WBTV shopping it to other networks.
As for the other networks, NBC is not expected to make renewal decisions on its midseason series before its upfront presentation. Ditto for CBS and its midseason dramas, all of which are still airing.vEverything else has been canceled or renewed.