Small Screen: Networks hoping to reverse declining trend

As fewer and fewer people watch broadcast television, pressure on the big four networks (ABC, NBC, CBS, and FOX) increases to find a big hit. Next week, the big four networks will announce their new shows and pray there is a hit or two among them.

It was just 10 years ago when even an average show like "According to Jim" or "Friends" spin-off "Joey" would average more than 10 million viewers. "The Office" debuted a decade ago and finished in 102nd place with 5.2 million viewers. Fast-forward to 2014 and it would be NBC's No. 1 show on Thursday nights.

There still are big hits. "The Big Bang Theory," recently got picked up for three more seasons. The top-rated comedy averages close more than 18 million fans on Thursday night. Ten years ago, that would barely crack the top 10.

Thanks in large part to NFL football and reality singing competition "The Voice," NBC looks to take home the 2013-14 title of favorite broadcast network for people ages 18-49. Despite that, NBC still has problems. Viewers ignore Thursday nights and outside of maybe "The Blacklist," the peacock network struggles to get a scripted show to the 10-million-viewer mark.

CBS saw its overall rating drop more than 10 percent, but still has a ton of strong shows, which means that it won't be adding many new ones. The network is also broadcasting Thursday night NFL games in the fall. CBS's most promising new show is "Battle Creek," which was created by Vince Gilligan, who also created "Breaking Bad." It will be interesting to see if Gilligan can strike gold again.


FOX no longer can count on "American Idol" to bring in 30 million viewers. The singing competition's current season struggles to get a third of that. FOX also has major Tuesday and Friday night problems, and "The Simpsons" and "Family Guy" can't go on forever, which means Sunday night could use new anchors. Among potential new shows, "Sober Companion" looks promising.

ABC looks to end up in fourth place despite very strong shows like "Scandal," "Modern Family," and "Grey's Anatomy." ABC's problem is that either a show takes off like "Scandal" or it flames out fast.

What could really help ABC is getting Monday Night Football back from its sister network ESPN. NBC started its worst-to-first comeback by showing Sunday night football games. Just a suggestion.

What To Read Next
Get Local