How Prime-Time TV Will Look Different This Fall

How Prime-Time TV Will Look Different This Fall
How Prime-Time TV Will Look Different This Fall


As dual strikes grip Hollywood, the new season’s network schedules lean heavily on reality and game shows.

Major broadcasters have thrown out the usual script for fall prime-time lineups.

Production delays caused by the monthslong Hollywood writers and actors strikes mean the coming slate of shows on ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox and the CW will look a lot different from past years.

This year, viewers will see lineups heavy on reality and game shows, with titles such as “Shark Tank," “The Masked Singer," “Celebrity Jeopardy!" and “Raid the Cage." Networks are also turning to reruns of hits such as “Law & Order" and “Blue Bloods" to fill their airtime.

Some, like NBC and the CW, are trying to replicate the typical fall viewing experience by licensing shows that have been released on television overseas. Many international productions have been immune from strike-related disruptions.

At Fox, new scripted fare includes “The Simpsons" and “Family Guy," animated shows that are typically made with a longer lead time than live-action programs.

Here is what you can expect on prime-time TV this season.

At Paramount Global’s CBS, fall offerings include some long-running reality franchises and old episodes of the hit show “Yellowstone," which has never been broadcast on the network. CBS will also air the first international edition of the NCIS franchise, which was produced in Australia and wasn’t affected by the U.S. strikes.

Data on the share of new scripted content on each network in prior years is based on a Wall Street Journal analysis of scheduling data from TV ad-measurement company

Later in the fall, the network plans to roll out additional scripted content that will be new for CBS viewers, including the U.K. version of the sitcom “Ghosts" as well as the drama “SEAL Team" from the Paramount+ streaming platform.

At Fox, weeknight prime time this fall is full of reality and game shows, such as “Hell’s Kitchen" and “Celebrity Name That Tune." The only new scripted content scheduled for the network is animated fare on Sunday nights.

Fox’s fall prime-time programming also typically includes the end of an afternoon National Football League game and postgame programming.

NBC is home to the hit vocal-competition show “The Voice," which runs on Monday and Tuesday nights and isn’t affected by the strikes.

Instead of new seasons of long-running scripted franchises such as “Law & Order" and “Chicago," NBC is showing reruns of those titles because of strike-related production delays. NBC has five other new scripted dramas planned, including Canadian import “Transplant."

The network had already adopted a more flexible scheduling process during the pandemic, said Jeff Bader, president of program planning and strategy for NBCUniversal Entertainment’s program scheduling and research. It also ordered some shows early and in bulk as a strike precaution. “Quantum Leap," for example, stayed in production after it finished filming its debut season, which aired last fall.

“We are going to miss not having the Dick Wolf shows on," said Bader, referring to new shows from the “Law & Order" and “Chicago" executive producer. “But as far as viewers are concerned, those will come on eventually and we have good stuff for them in the meantime."

ABC’s announced lineup is heavy on reality and game-show fare, including the debut of “The Golden Bachelor," featuring a bachelor who is over 70 years old.

It has yet to announce which shows will appear at the start of the week.

CW viewers this fall will find original, scripted content that is new to the U.S. but premiered in other markets, such as Canadian show “Son of a Critch."

The decision to air those shows was rooted in their affordable price, rather than the continuing strikes, and was made well before Hollywood productions shut down, said Brad Schwartz, president of entertainment at the CW, which he calls “the underdog" among the major networks.

The network asks how it can do more with less and licenses overseas content that executives think viewers will enjoy, Schwartz said. “None of those decisions were made because of a strike," he said.

Among the major streaming TV shows that have so far been delayed by the strikes are Netflix’s “Stranger Things," Max’s “White Lotus" and “Euphoria" and Showtime’s “Yellowjackets." Work on some shows paused when writers went on strike in May, while production was under way for others but paused when actors went on strike in July.

For now, the streaming pipeline hasn’t totally run dry because some content was already completed and awaiting release. In August, Hulu released Season 3 of its “Only Murders in the Building" and Showtime released the final season of “Billions." The prior month, Netflix’s “Sweet Magnolias" hit the streaming service and the second season of Amazon Prime Video’s “Good Omens" premiered.

Overall, major streaming services released 91 U.S.-produced scripted TV seasons during the strike-affected months of May through August, according to research firm Ampere Analysis, down from 111 during the same period last year.

The next few months will be a test. While streamers can in some cases lean on stockpiles of already-produced content, industry data show orders for new content have fallen sharply.

Major platforms placed 45 scripted U.S. season orders from May through August, down from 118 orders placed over the same months in 2022 and 112 in 2021, according to Ampere Analysis. Those titles were largely season renewals and animated content unaffected by the strikes, the data provider said.


Fall prime-time programming data for 2019-22 are from TV ad-measurement company, which created a fall schedule for each network between Labor Day and mid-December of each year using the programs in which the most ads aired—a proxy for the shows that aired most frequently—in each time slot. The fall 2023 prime-time schedules are from each network as they define prime time and as of Sept. 15. Times shown on 2023 fall schedules can vary by program, network and time zone. Programming that made its debut on another network or overseas, or has been available on streaming services, is counted as new scripted content for a given network, while rerun programming isn’t.

Sources: WSJ analysis of data (networks’ fall prime-time schedules, 2019-22); the companies (networks’ prime-time schedules, 2023); Ampere Analysis (streaming releases and orders)

Write to Nate Rattner at and Sarah Krouse at

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