The New York upfronts: ABC upholds TV’s GRPs

At a more subdued ABC upfront presentation in NYC yesterday, Mindshare Canada's managing partner Lina Alles hears more about the glories of television - for audiences and advertisers alike.

The ABC upfront took place at Lincoln Center at 3 pm. Unlike Fox, there was no parading of stars. Anne Sweeney, co-chair and president, opened up the ABC upfront talking about the merits of television as the best platform to meet consumers. However, like Fox [Monday] night, she also made the point that TV is the strongest medium – delivering more reach, more opportunity and more results.

President of sales and marketing Mike Shaw and Entertainment group president Stephen McPherson also took the stage to talk about why television is still the best place for advertisers’ money, and why ABC is the best network. ABC believes they have ‘dense’ GRPs…translated this means the most valuable GRPs – highest percentage of upper-income households, largest duration of viewing and highest engagement scores. In short, ABC delivers consumers, not just viewers. ABC has great content, viewers who see the commercial and have the money to buy the product. Therefore, ABC’s GRPs offer the best value. Notably absent however was any mention of their ranking, which I think is last…oh details.

This fall, ABC is bringing back the old favourites – Dancing with the Stars, Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Super Nanny, Ugly Betty, 20/20, Desperate Housewives and Brothers and Sisters. However, that means that they have a lot of cancellations, and as a result are launching eight new shows!!

Sharktank on Monday night @ 8 pm – a Mark Burnett production, but no clip.

The Forgotten Tuesday night – a police drama similar to Cold Case but in this case the ‘forgotten’ are unidentified dead bodies.

Wednesday night is comedy night with four new sitcoms, starting at 8 pm with Hank starring Kelsey Grammer as a business man who loses all his money and has to relocate with his family to his old neighbourhood. Imagine Frasier being poor!

The Middle stars Patricia Heaton from Everybody Loves Raymond, as a middle-class mom living the life of a harassed wife and mom. Sound familiar?

Modern Family is ABC’s pick of the season; they previewed the full episode at the upfront, which is unheard of. It’s a comedy about a typical ‘modern’ family struggling with the issues of the day. It was pretty funny, and received a great reaction from the audience.

Cougar Town stars Courtney Cox as a ‘cougar’…need I say more?

Eastwick is a one-hour drama based on the movie Witches of Eastwick, and it is terrible – the only thing the movie had going for it was Jack Nicholson…and this series does not have Jack!

Flash Forward on Thursday night is a one-hour drama described as an ‘intimate epic’…what does that mean? Whatever, the show does look good. It centres around a worldwide event where everyone blacks out and during the blackout everyone has a glimpse into the future. It then follows the journey of the characters as they deal with what has happened.

Midseason replacements include: Happytown, The Deep End, and V, which if they do make it onto the schedule will not last long.

After seeing the clips, Jimmy Kimmel came on stage and did his comedy act poking fun at what we do – What are dense GRPs? What are GRPs? – and at all the new shows. Sure, if ABC is so confident about the new shows, why do they have mid-season replacements? And most importantly, he reminded us all that if history repeats itself, 95% of these new shows will be cancelled. I’m thinking he didn’t share his routine with the ABC team prior to taking the stage!

And then the presentation was over and we left…with no party to go to and no stars to take pictures with! First evidence of recessionary cutbacks.

NBC tomorrow.

Lina Alles is managing partner at Mindshare Canada.