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Upfront Overview: TV Trends & Upcoming Shows That Have Millennials In Mind

We’ve been following the upfront announcements closely both because we’re obsessed with TV and because we’re curious about what programs will capture Millennials’ attention this Fall. We’re noticing a lot of networks are amping up their offerings in hopes of attracting young viewers by focusing on comedies, supernatural shows, quirky female characters, music competitions, and of course, making themselves and their content accessible on multiple platforms and social media. Read on for some of the most noteworthy news from the upfronts and what we expect Millennials will tune into this Fall.

Fox has long been a Millennial favorite — 34% of 14-30 year olds say they watch the channel regularly according to our research — and it will likely remain popular among this age group given its upcoming lineup. Tuesdays will continue to be a comedy night with Gen Y favorite “New Girl” returning, along with “The Mindy Project,” starring funny girl Mindy Kaling. Both depict twenty-somethings who are figuring out themselves, their romances, and friendships in a big city, and experiencing awkwardness along the way, which makes them appealing and relatable to Millennials. Mindy’s book “Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me” is a New York Times bestseller and is particularly popular among women of this age group, so the show is sure to be a hit too. Moreover, “Raising Hope” and newcomer “Ben and Kate,” about a brother and sister relationship, round out the two-hour comedy block on Tuesdays.

Wednesdays and Thursdays are music nights for the network and also sound promising; “The X Factor” has been receiving enormous buzz since Fox announced that Britney Spears and Demi Lovato would both be judges this season. This seems like a formula for success as Britney Spears is the 6th most powerful celebrity according to Forbes’ recent list and Simon Cowell is 18. Demi will also bring in younger viewers and the star appeal will certainly attract an audience initially. “The X Factor” will also air on Thursday nights, followed by “Glee” in an effort to increase its ratings. Moreover, “American Idol” will fill “The X Factor’s” time slots on both nights midseason. Fox’s scheduling and focus on these shows were well thought out with Millennials in mind!

And while Sunday nights are staying the same on Fox, we expect the animation evening, which includes “The Cleveland Show,” “The Simpsons,” “Bob’s Burgers,” “Family Guy,” and “American Dad” will continue to bring in millions of Millennial males.

ABC — which 31% of Millennials watch regularly — has seen much success lately, and as announced at the Upfronts, the network is focusing on comedies and family programming. Tuesdays will consist of the celebrity packed “Dancing With The Stars,” “Happy Endings,” “Don’t Trust the B—- In Apt 23” (another quirky girl drama featuring Krysten Ritter), and “Private Practice.”

Moreover, Wednesday night is an even bigger comedy block with “The Middle,” “Suburgatory,” and “Modern Family,” followed by a new comedy called “The Neighbors” where a family’s neighbors are aliens, and “Nashville” a country-music themed soap starring Connie Britton from the popular programs “Friday Night Lights” and “American Horror Story” as well as Hayden Panettiere. These two shows sound relevant to this generation both in their premise and scheduling.

While Friday nights are meant to be a family comedy night as the network revives its TGIF programming block, it’s Sunday nights that we think will appeal to this age group most. The evening will kick off with “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” followed by the fairy tale drama “Once Upon A Time,” the highly-acclaimed mystery/drama “Revenge,” and the anticipated program “666 Park Avenue.” The last two are spooky and thrilling shows that are perfectly paired and lead into “666 Park Avenue,” an Alloy Entertainment supernatural series based on the books by Gabriella Pierce. The premise is about a young couple who move into a Manhattan building and soon discover that it’s filled with strange occurrences and the tenants are possessed by a demonic force.

*Also lookout for midseason show “Mistresses” (starring Alyssa Milano) which follows a group of friends whose personal lives are full of drama.

“The Voice” will air on Mondays and Tuesdays, and as music competition shows are a staple on TV, this remains a focus for the network. Mondays will also feature J.J. Abrahams’ “Revolution,” a sci-fi show placed 15 years after a mysterious event permanently disables all electronics on the planet and creates chaos.

And like the other networks, comedies play a central role on NBC with Tuesdays including “The New Normal” a comedy about a gay couple looking to start a family from “Glee” and “American Horror Story’s” creator Ryan Murphy, which will likely draw in viewers in itself, in addition to the show’s connection to “Modern Family.”

Wednesday will also have comedies including the Jimmy Fallon produced program “Guys With Kids” about thirty-something guys who have babies but don’t act grown-up themselves. Thursday nights will be filled with comedy staples including “30 Rock,” “Up All Night,” “The Office,” and “Parks and Recreation.” But we’re also curious about the fate of by the midseason program “Ready For Love,” a dating show much like “The Bachelor” produced by Eva Longoria and hosted by Bill and Giuliana Rancic.

CBS —  watched regularly among 20% of Millennials — is making Mondays all about comedy with “How I Met Your Mother,” “2 Broke Girls” (starring Kat Dennings as yet another offbeat but lovable female character) and “Partners” a new bromance show from “Will and Grace” creators about two guys whose friendship is affected by their romances (featuring “One Tree Hill’s” Sophia Bush). CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler says, “It’s a very honest look at what it means to be in your 20s. You have your very best friend with whom you’ve grown up… how do you find that balance between what you tell your partner and what you tell your best friend?” This description alone makes us think it touches on very Millennial themes and will stand out to them this season.

We also think two midseason shows are very youth-centric including “Friend Me” about two twenty-somethings who move to LA and one of them, desperate for new friends, posts an ad on a coffee shop bulletin board. Between the premise about starting over in a new city and the notable young actors (Christopher Mintz-Plasse aka McLovin from “Superbad” and Nicholas Braun from “10 Things I Hate About You”), it has all the makings to appeal to young adults who are going through the same experiences. There’s also “The Job,” a reality show from “Survivor” producer Mark Burnett that allows contestants a chance to win their dream jobs if they can get through grueling interviews. This seems very applicable to Gen Y given today’s current economy where half of Millennials are unemployed.

The CW
The CW hopes to reboot itself this Fall (only 15% of Millennials say they watch the channel regularly), and to do so the network has drastically shifted its schedule with theme nights. Dramas will return on Monday night with “90210” and “Gossip Girl” and the“The Sex and the City” prequel, “The Carrie Diaries,” replacing the latter midseason. Medical shows will be the focus on Tuesdays with “Hart of Dixie” and newcomer “Emily Owens, M.D.” starring Meryl Streep’s daughter Mamie Gummer as a medical intern. However, the show has an interesting twist where the medical world mirrors high school — the jocks become orthopedic surgeons, the mean girls go into plastic surgery, and the rebels are in the ER.

Wednesday is aimed at guys with the new show “Arrow” about characters in DC comic books and graphic novels, followed by “Supernatural.” The network has been female-heavy, so it hopes this night will help attract more Millennial males. Moreover, Thursdays will feature fantasy and supernatural shows including the hit “Vampire Diaries” and the fantasy crime procedural “Beauty and the Beast,” a reboot of the ‘80s CBS show. Moreover, “Nikita” and “America’s Next Top Model,” which will include online voting for the first time, are pushed to Friday, which focuses on fierce females. Moreover, The CW will kick off this slate in October so that its shows don’t get lost in the Fall frenzy of new TV.

Moreover, to supplement its series programming online and engage Millennials in more social ways, it’s launching CW Digital Studio, a platform containing original content including comedy, animation, game shows, and more, which will also be distributed on Facebook and YouTube.

ABC Family
Lastly, ABC Family — the most popular network among Millennials (38%), including 52% of females — has most of its new shows debuting this summer to beat the Fall rush. The three newcomers differ from the channel’s recent focus on secrets, scandals, mystery, and fashion, but given the network’s fan base and firm grasp on this generation, the new programs — including “Bunheads,” executive-produced by Amy Sherman-Palladino of  “Gilmore Girls,” which is a drama about a dance school — will perhaps provide a nice balance.

BunheadsMoreover, “Baby Daddy,” is a comedy about a young man who becomes a surprise dad when a child is left on his doorstep by an ex-girlfriend, and he raises the girl with his mother, brother, and best guy and girlfriends, which is relevant to this generation and sounds a little like a younger version of NBC’s “Guys With Kids.” ABC Family is also entering the reality show world with “Beverly Hills Nannies” created by the producers of “RHOBH” and “RHBOC.”

But besides these, the network also has numerous successful shows among this demographic including the “Pretty Little Liars” and “Jane By Design” which will premiere in June, and “Switched At Birth” and “The Lying Game” that return in Fall and Winter of this year respectively.

ABC Family understands this age group, and as other channels push to appeal to young adults as well (an idea reflected throughout the upfronts), it’s the focus on adequately representing Gen Y and providing programs that mirror their experiences, that will make them succeed with Millennials too.