Among the fans of the Spring 2022 TV schedule

The 15-day itinerary at the end of April was packed with about two dozen thoroughbred events, including past Emmy favorites flight attendant.
Photo: Amy Sussman/Getty Images

It’s not what you might think: Spring 2022 is packed with new and returning TV content. Over the past ten weeks or so, streaming platforms and cable networks have launched more than 50 new and returning high-profile series. The wild 15-day event at the end of April was packed with about two dozen thoroughbred events, including a new season of past Emmys (Barry, russian doll, flight attendant, Ozark), the star-studded newcomer galaxy (the first lady, shiny girl, Gaslit), and some long shots just to get attention (Billy the Kid, outer scope). That’s ridiculous even in an age of too much TV — but surprisingly, this audiovisual attack isn’t just an accident on the calendar. In some cases, this is premeditated behavior.

Industry insiders told Vulture that the root cause of the piling up of programming is that many Emmy-hungry platforms are desperately looking for a golden man. All the new digital players (Apple TV+, Disney+, Peacock, Paramount+) are scrambling to gain acceptance, as are smaller cable companies like Starz and Epix. Just as movie studios release critic-friendly films in the fall to ensure maximum exposure ahead of the Oscar vote, the platforms believe that arranging a show for the spring will improve the odds of an Emmy nomination in the summer. What does it matter to last year’s category winners (Ted Russo, crown, The Queen’s Conspiracy) was released last summer or fall? Obviously not. “So many games have benefited over the past few years,” one senior executive said of the spring scheduling strategy. “Just as the ballots are about to be released, the show is fresh in voters’ minds.”

Indeed, while they may not have set the biggest prize, hacker, Mares of Easttown, subwayand The Handmaid’s Tale After bowing in April or May, it was nominated for more than five Emmys each year last year.In the pre-tv peak era, TV dramas such as vice-president, fargo, ster creekand mad Men In theory, at least one or two boosts from spring rollouts during their respective campaigns cemented the notion that approaching the first voting window would increase the number of big winners when the nominations were announced in July. probability.

However, according to sources in the TV world, Emmys strategy alone doesn’t explain the madness of this spring’s premiere. “Some of it is the aftermath of COVID,” said one top programmer, echoing views expressed in interviews with multiple executives. While it’s been nearly two years since the pandemic nearly completely shut down film and TV productions between March 2020 and September 2020, insiders say the disruption it’s causing is still having an impact through release schedules. More recently, the Delta and Omicron waves have caused setbacks on specific projects, resulting in smaller — but still sometimes significant — delays.

Sources say that larger-budget series, especially those that require a lot of post-production work, have been hit the hardest. “When you’ve got a lot of special effects and a big-star show, it’s challenging just to get it on the air,” said one insider, noting that this was true even before the pandemic. “But now with all this, a lot of productions are slowed down or shut down, which delays everyone’s production and slows down when the show is ready.” Result: Some worthy releases originally scheduled for late 2021 or early 2022 The Emmys’ projects didn’t end up being ready in time, leaving programmers with a tough choice: squeeze their shows into an increasingly crowded spring calendar, or push them into summer or fall — and pray voters will be in the summer of 2023 Remember them.

While they declined to specify which productions delayed due to the Covid-19 pandemic were moved to April or May, insiders from all four platforms cited the virus as an important factor in their recent programming decisions. However, while they don’t deny that the industry’s collective thirst for the Emmys is a real problem, they also insist that the awards don’t fully dictate the programming of the show. “I’m really trying to think about what’s best for our calendar,” said one top programmer, noting that his platform needs to make sure there’s no top content for any month of the year. An insider at rival platforms agrees, noting that the fear of losing existing subscribers due to a lack of new content offsets the desire to win awards. “You can’t have churn,” he said. “We need to program all four seasons so that there’s always something to premiere.”

Of course, the bigger problem facing platforms these days is finding nothing new to fill their schedules. It’s whether viewers will notice all the new shows. That’s what makes spring crushes so problematic. While awards-obsessed platforms can target TV Academy’s thousands of members with campaigns and advertising campaigns, it’s much harder, if not impossible, to get the general audience to notice. Of course, that’s an issue outside the awards season window, but the past few months have taken things to a whole new level of absurdity: Peak TV has basically become Peak TV+. To make matters worse, this is happening at a time when Americans are taking advantage of the low post-Omicron COVID infection rate to travel, socialize, watch movies and go to concerts, just like 2019. “This traffic jam is bad for the industry,” admits one veteran streaming programmer. “Everyone is doing what they think is best for them, but a lot of shows are hurting.” As one cable marketing executive added, “It’s pretty much hurting consumers right now. It’s just too much. already.”

Is this good news for those who believe there’s actually too much TV? Some insiders believe the past few months will be remembered as a turning point in the business, when executives realized they couldn’t spend their energy in the streaming (or Emmys) battle. “I’ll leave it to Landgraf to call Peak TV, but it does feel like top-notch this spring,” said one industry veteran hopefully, referring to FX chairman John Landgraf.He believes in “the reckoning we see on Netflix” – when Company stock crash After growth stalls – will reverberate across the business and cause content spending to be flat or reduced. “What’s likely to happen after this streaming fix is ​​people cut back on their offerings, and that’s going to help ease traffic,” the executive predicted, making it clear that he believes that will be a good thing. “As an industry, we overdid it.”

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