Last year I teased the members of the TV media who’d declared that during Summer 2010 the broadcast networks were getting “serious” about programming because they’d scheduled a number of scripted original series.

How’d that turn out?

  • ABC’s “standard cost” series Scoundrels & The Gates crashed and burned. The super cheap (more below) Canadian import Rookie Blue did OK, and will return this summer.
  • Fox’s Lie To Me and The Good Guys both underwhelmed, and after finishing their runs in the Fall were both cancelled.
  • CBS’s Canadian import Flashpoint did OK, but apparently not well enough for CBS to want to take more than seven additional episodes for this summer (with the six unaired from last season).
  • NBC didn’t schedule any scripted shows other than 2009-10 season holdover rejects.

Instead this summer:

  • ABC will be returning Rookie Blue and picking up The Hot Zone (perhaps now known as Combat Hospital?) Both Canadian imports reported to cost ABC as little as $350k per episode. Compare that to the conventional wisdom cost of ~$3 million / episode for a broadcast primetime “in season” drama. That’s also cheaper than many unscripted reality shows (costs of which vary all over the map).
  • Fox has no new episodes of scripted shows scheduled.
  • CBS originally had scheduled 13 episodes of Flashpoint, but only 10 will air in the summer since Flashpoint was pulled onto the Friday schedule early after the collapse of Chaos. Flashpoint, also a Canadian import, is certainly cheaper than an original US produced drama, but no reported word on exactly how cheap.
  • NBC has scheduled the 2010-11 season scripted holdover reject Love Bites (and perhaps more, I admit to not checking carefully).

Clearly it’s not going to be the “Summer of Serious”, so I hereby declare it the “Summer of Cheap”!

Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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