Program Development and Programming


A general rule in the entertainment business is that each broadcast network’s schedule is dominated by situation comedies and dramatic series. However, as time goes on, more and more other types of programming are becoming popular such as reality television. Television genres include a broad range of programming types that entertain, inform, and educate viewers. The main types of programming are dramas, comedies, reality shows, news, variety, and children shows.

Program Genres


Most networks focus on a limited number of program types, playing with elements and not creating a new form. However, smaller networks, like HBO, take chances and try to create new form.

NBC's "Smash" Trailer

On February 6th, 2012, the heavily promoted Smash premiered on NBC. Smash is an original musical drama. It premiered the night after Super Bowl XLVI. NBC sampled Smash to the public through various sources. According to , it was offered to digital download platforms including Apple iTunes, Amazon Video on Demand, Xbox/Zune, Playstation, Samsung MediaHub and Vudu beginning January 16 through February 6. From January 16 through February 6, Video on Demand partners, including parent company Comcast, offered the pilot via Set-Top-Box On Demand. In addition, January 23 through February 6, online streaming via and Hulu.

On the Set of "Scandal"

On April 5th, 2012, ABC premiered Scandal, a series created by Shonda Rhimes. Each network produces several, diverse pilots episodes every season in hopes of them succeeding and filling a time slot.



Network comedies often attract broad audiences, who are usually younger and less educated. In general, comedies are developed because they replace series that are declining in popularity. In fact, broadcast networks commit to more comedy pilots than drama pilots. Most comedies are produced in a soundstage or a studio in front of a live audience like Friends, which was the most expensive prime-time series of all time (Blumenthal, Goodenough, 214). [1]

ABC released a new comedy sitcom called Don’t Trust the B—- in Apartment 23 on April 11th as a mid-season replacement. The first two episodes were made available on and on Xfinity in the United States before the premiere on April 11, 2012. [2]



"Rob" Cast Members on CBS


Rob, a comedy produced by The Tannenbaum Company and CBS Television Studios, also was a midseason replacement. It premiered on CBS on January 12th, 2012. Although receiving some negative feedback from critics, Rob proved to have great viewership and ratings. Rob is currently on the bubble for renewal.

Reality Television

There are four main rules that the majority of reality series follow:

  1. Don’t generally involve actors
  2. May be planned, but not written in same sense as a comedy or drama
  3. Produced on location
  4. Special gimmick: something that makes the whole idea of show worth watching [1]

When comparing shows like The Real Housewives on Bravo and The Jersey Shore on MTV, reality television seems very different from drama or comedies. However, they are in fact well planned. For instance, sometimes host reads words written by producers. Also, reality series selects a cast with the same care associated with drama or comedies (Blumenthal, Goodenough, 215-216). [1]

It’s a Brad, Brad World debuted on January 2nd, 2012 on Bravo and featured Brad Goreski fromthe other Bravo hit, The Rachel Zoe Project. Reality series are so popular these days that sometimes cast members get their very own spinoff series. These shows try to target a similar audience and hope they can survive on their own.
Even Betty White hosts her own reality show on NBC called Off Their Rockers. She proves that reality television doesn’t have to only appeal to a young audience and uses senior stereotypes to basically “Punk” strangers. [3]


Years ago, it was unheard of to have news running for 24-hours. Now there are cable and broadcast networks completely devoted to the news. CNN still remains the world’s largest news organization, with over 4,000 employees worldwide. ABC, CBS, NBC, and FOX all operate news divisions (Blumenthal, Goodenough, 220). [1]

"Good Morning America"

Broadcast Network news continues to fight weekly for the best ratings. Good Morning America on ABC tends to compete with Today on NBC. People are usually quite loyal to what they watch, so having a strong “front four” is necessary for more eyeballs; this includes two co-anchors, a weather reporter, and a sportscaster.

According to Nielsen ratings, Good Morning America beat Today the week of April 9, 2012, for the first time in more than 16 years (since December 4, 1995) . Good Morning America drew 5.147 million total viewers to rank number one for the week, surpassing Today, which only had 5.134 million viewers. It just so happened that Matt Lauer was off all week, which could be a reason why Today lost viewership. [4]

Sports Programming

Sports Programming Graph


The main buyers of sports programming in the United States are  FOX, NBC, CBS, ABC, and Turner Broadcasting. Back in the late 80s, ABC paid an average of $147 million per year for Monday Night Football games. [1] ESPN, a sister company of ABC, presently holds coverage of Monday Night Football.

The NFL and ESPN made a deal to keep Monday night games on ESPN through the 2021 season. The new contract will pay the NFL $1.8 billion a year, a 63 percent increase from the current deal. With 17 Monday night games a year, that works out to more than $105 million a game. Starting in 2014 ESPN will pay $1.9 billion a year just for Monday Night Football games. That’s around $110 million per Monday Night Football game on cable. [6] [7]

NBC/Turner had a deal for NASCAR that was worth $1.2 billion over six years and ended in 2006. FOX Sports now holds the rights to NASCAR and proudly presents the 54th running of the Daytona 500 in 2012. [8]

"Happy Grad" Chevrolet Super Bowl Commercial

The NFL is television’s most valuable sports programming because it gets the highest ratings and most viewers (Blumenthal, Goodenough, 234-236). Football has been an American favorite pastime for decades. A super bowl ad in 2005 cost was over $2.4 million per spot. Now, Super bowl ads cost as much more. NBC charged an average of $3.5 million for each 30-second spot for this year’s Super bowl that took place on Sunday, February 5, 2012. [9]

Like many of the Super Bowl ads, most of the advertising in sports is geared to gain the attention of the male eye. Anheuser-Busch and Pepsico lead the pack of most money spent on advertising followed by General Motors, Time Warner and Walt Disney. [10]

Talk Shows/Variety

There are many diverse genres within talk shows, but most feature celebrity guests who talk about their personal lives and/or promote a project. One type of talk show combines comedy, variety, and celebrity talk like The Ellen DeGeneres Show  (Blumenthal, Goodenough, 241).

Bethenny Frankel

According to the Hollywood Reporter, it was announced on April 25, 2012 that reality star Bethenny Frankel will get a test run on her very own talk show starting June 11 on six Fox-owned TV stations. The show is called Bethenny and is executively produced by Ellen DeGeneres. Fox is a great place to launch a talk show like this because they have run a number of similar talk shows in the past with stars like Wendy Williams and Fran Drescher. [11]


Video of Kate McKinnon "SNL" Skit


Saturday Night Live, America’s longest-running weekly variety show, still in 2012 is breaking new grounds. In March, 2012, SNL announced they hired their first openly gay female cast member. Comedienne Kate McKinnon made her debut on the variety show, hosted by Modern Family co-star Sofia Vergara, on April 7, 2012. [12]

Children’s Programming/Animation

The two dominant cable networks in children’s programming are Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. The later is a force to be reckoned with in 2012 with its release of original programming.

The Legends of Korra

Nickelodeon is among the most active networks in original program development. On Saturday, April 14, 2012, the highly anticipated animated series The Legends of Korra scored a strong 4.5 million total viewers according to This made it rank as the basic cable’s number-one kids’ show and top animated program for the week with total viewers. [13]


Cartoon Network launched DC Nation in March, 2012. It is a programming that showcases the heroes of the DC Comics library. A humorous tone runs through the shorts, including S.B.F.F. (short for Super Best Friends Forever), which stars Supergirl, Wonder Girl and Batgirl who focus on “how much fun it is to be a superhero,” says producer Lauren Faust. [14]



Blumenthal, Howard J., and Oliver R. Goodenough. This Business of Television.       New York: BillBoard, 2006. Print.