NY Times

Whoa! Game Changer: Scheduling Guru Preston Beckman — Who Has Done Terrific Work For NBC and Fox in Years Past — Says ‘The eventual demise of a fall season is going to happen’

Sep 22, 2014  •  Post A Comment

Just as the ascendancy of cable programming was inevitable, so is the eventual demise of the traditional fall season, loaded with its premieres of new shows and new seasons, particularly from the broadcast networks.

That seems to be the conclusion of a piece in The New York Times by Bill Carter and Emily Steel that carries two headlines: Online the headline is “Fall TV Season Has Buzz, But It’s Growing Softer”; in Monday’s print edition the headline reads “It’s Muted, but Buzz for Fall TV Returns.”

Preston Beckman, who has been the chief prime-time scheduler for both NBC and Fox — and is currently a programming adviser to Fox — makes the following argument, The Times says: “that in spite of all the factors battering the tradition of the network premiere week, it retains value, mainly for the attention it still brings to a business that needs all the attention it can get.”

But then, in the last line of the article, The Times notes that even the bullish Beckman has his doubts about the long-term viability of a traditional broadcast premiere week in the fall: “‘It’s not always going to be this way,’ he said. ‘The eventual demise of a fall season is going to happen gradually, but it will still take a long time before it finally happens.’ “

Here’s another point the article makes: “As the networks vie with one another, they are increasingly finding that they no longer have the fall season spotlight to themselves, even in premiere week. The rest of the business used to back off until after the network program stampede. But this year, for example, the FX cable channel is running the final season of its drama ‘Sons of Anarchy’ right in middle of the network fall debuts, and scoring impressive ratings. Last season, AMC ran the finale of ‘Breaking Bad’ on the first Sunday of the network season.”

To read more about the fall TV season, this year and in the future, please click on our link above that will take you to Carter and Steel’s original article.


One of this season’s highly anticipated fall debuts: “Gotham” on Fox


  1. Idiots all! The problem is that the networks have tended to water down premier week into a premiere month. Premier week used to work because all networks started ALL shows the same week – it was fantastic – a special event and people got excited and every household had their TV’s running all week long!

    Much like most of their programing, the networks turned and event that resembled the Fort of July into casual Friday.

  2. Detroit learned this years ago.

  3. Preston is one of the best…I would seriously consider his point of view.

  4. The problem is…the networks for the last several years, save for CBS, are churning out low-priced garbage shows, including reality shows, that NO ONE CARES ABOUT. Plus Hollywood is closed to outside ideas and newcomers…unless you or a relative go to the same temple or country club, you have no chance in Hollywood. This Hollywood provincialism, coupled with the bean-counter mentality where the networks will not invest in high-quality well-written shows, is why the networks are failing miserably. NOT because of the competition!!-Heck,cable has offered over 100 channels easily for the last 20 years. And the stronger-than-ever NFL ratings prove that if you deliver compelling content that people want, then you will get ratings! Hollywood needs to open its doors to outside writers and outside acting talent, or yes, the networks will die, and deservedly so.

  5. This is news? Moonves (who calls Preston “Preston Fuckman” called this in 1995.

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