ABC is leaning into live and event programming and building on existing franchises as it looks to bring some “swagger” back to broadcast television.
The broadcaster revealed a slew of new shows this morning at the TCA winter press tour including The Bachelor: Listen to Your Heart, a new installment in the network’s popular reality franchise; classic TV game show Supermarket Sweep, a new incarnation hosted and executive produced by Saturday Night Live alumna Leslie Jones; and a return of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire with Jimmy Kimmel
ABC Entertainment president Karey Burke said that the network would be prioritizing live and unscripted programming. “Our strategy going forward is to present one live or big tentpole event every month,” she said, highlighting the primetime Jeopardy! specials and a live episode of The Connors. “At ABC we are creating big, culturally impactful entertainment events that deliver enormous audiences.”
Burke said the network has “momentum” and intends to build on it. “I’m proud to be at the helm of the network, and my team and I are honored to be doing our part to bring some much needed swagger back to broadcast television,” she said.
She admitted that a decision on the next installment of the Kimmel-fronted take on Norman Lear’s classic shows in Live in Front of a Studio Audience would take place in the coming weeks. She also said that she and her team, including reality chief Rob Mills, are looking for new properties that “can thrive specifically on broadcast and cater to tens of millions of people.”
The former Freeform boss talked up its association with streaming platform Hulu, which she said helped it “significantly broaden [its] reach to a younger audience” but dismissed any suggestion that ABC was in a “dogfight” with Disney sibling services such as Disney+ for content. She did, however, make another dig at the fact that the popularity of some streaming services has been built on classic broadcast shows. “Shows like Modern Family, Seinfeld, Friends, The Office and The Big Bang Theory are helping to build new platforms, but they were built on a broadcast platform,” Burke said. “So while the 250th episode of Modern Family might be its last, we know it’s far from the last that we’ll be hearing about it.”
Scripted wasn’t entirely left off the table today. Burke, who was involved in the development and production of shows such as Friends and Mad About You during her tenure at NBC, announced a sequel of 1980s drama Thirtysomething. Marshall Herskowitz and Ed Zwick’s series received a pilot order with four members of the original cast returning. “The show became so deeply embedded in pop culture,” Burke said.