ABC has released its Fall 2016-17 schedule ahead of its Upfront presentation to the sponsors today, and it is definitely light on sci fi / fantasy entries. For the Fall, the network has only returning Agents of SHIELD and Once Upon A Time in the line-up and they have new sci fi series Time After Time (more on that one at this link) in reserve for mid-season (ABC hasn’t issued a preliminary mid-year schedule like FOX did). AoS shifts to the Tuesday 10 PM EST hour which largely suggests that it is there to air out its fourth season before packing off to a syndication run. That show has been languishing in the ratings for two years, but Disney (which owns ABC) has kept it alive as their Avengers tie-in on television. Its fourth season renewal came largely because that will get it to the minimum episode count of 88 that the syndication market prefers to see (or maybe a little bit above if Agent Carter gets tacked on to that package). I can’t imagine that ABC expects the ratings for AoS to improve at 10 PM (that hour was a disaster for them this year), so they are likely looking at the upcoming season as its last. Also of note, the network passed on spin-off series Marvel’s Most Wanted, likely because neither AoS nor cancelled Agent Carter managed to find much success in the ratings the last couple of years. Once Upon A Time remains in the Sunday 8 PM EST family friendly hour that it has occupied since it first debuted. It’s numbers are way down this year, but then that’s true of all non-sports programming by the broadcast networks on Sundays of late (while cable shows like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones continue to walk all over them). I had previously theorized that this upcoming season could be the last for Once Upon A Time, but the producers have said that they have no endgame in sight, so that show will likely stick around as long as Disney wants to keep cranking its stock of characters through the storylines. As for Time After Time, based on the book and movie, we will have to wait until mid-season to see where that show lands on the schedule. Also worth noting, ABC has indicated that it will not be putting shows on the extended hiatuses they have experienced the last few years. Both Agents of SHIELD and Once Upon a Time were on break close to three months this past season. Hopefully that doesn’t mean that they will amp up the repeats to fill in the schedule throughout the year.
You can see the full rundown of the end of year renewals and cancellations at this link and you can read about NBC’s and FOX’s schedules at this link. And be sure to stay tuned for coverage of the CBS and CW schedules as they make their presentations over the next couple of days.