Broadcast networks are still the best way to reach audiences at scale, ABC Entertainment President Karey Burke said at summer press tour in Los Angeles on Monday.
Burke pointed to the 150 million monthly viewers aggregates across its platforms and said: “That is why brands still pay us a big premium to advertise on our air, and why competing streamers want to advertise on our air – we just won’t let them.”
In November, ABC parent company Disney will launch its subscription streaming service, Disney+, and Disney now owns most of free and/or paid service Hulu.
ABC is the latest broadcast network to dip its toes into live programming, with several specials on tap for the coming year. Capitalizing on the success of the Hollywood Bowl live productions of both The Little Mermaid—which starred Rebel Wilson and Darren Criss—and Beauty and the Beast, ABC will air a hybrid live action/animated format.
This live version of The Little Mermaid will feature Auli’i Cravalho, who voiced Moana, as Ariel, as well as Queen Latifah as Ursula and Shaggy as Ariel’s crabby friend, Sebastien. Richard Kraft, who produced and directed the Hollywood Bowl productions, will executive produce. The Little Mermaid is slated to air Nov. 5.
Two other event series are also on ABC’s slate: Fall and Rise: The Story of 9/11 and Women of the Movement, an eight-episode limited anthology series that tells the story of the civil-rights movement through a female lens.
ABC also has ordered several more live specials from Jimmy Kimmel’s production company after last season’s success of Live in Front of a Studio Audience: Norman Lear’s All in the Family and The Jeffersons. Woody Harrelson and Marisa Tomei starred as Archie and Edith Bunker while Jamie Foxx and Wanda Sykes starred as George and Louise Jefferson.
The first of these new specials will air this winter, while the second will air in spring 2020. Live in Front of a Studio Audience is produced by Kimmelot, ACT III Productions, Gary Sanchez Productions, D’Arconville and Sony Pictures Television.
ABC also is working with Kimmel and Kimmelot, in partnership with Mark Burnett, on a new game show titled Generation Gap. ABC has had good luck with prime-time games starting in 2015 with Celebrity Family Feud and adding other similar games to the mix, such as Press Your Luck, Card Sharks, $100,000 Pyramid, Match Game and To Tell the Truth. Generation Gap will be produced by MGM Television and Kimmelot. Burnett, Kimmel and Barry Poznick will executive produce.
ABC also said Monday that it is, unsurprisingly, renewing The Bachelorette for season 16 and Bachelor in Paradise, which premieres season six on Monday evening, for season seven.