Fox Has No Fall Schedule but CEO Says Network ‘Prepared Very Well’ for WGA Strike

Fox unveiled its 2023-24 programming slate amid the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike, but not a fall schedule. Don’t look too much into that, the network’s new CEO Rob Wade told the media on Monday.

The upcoming slate features 13 returning series, five Season 2 renewals of all of the network’s freshman shows, and six new series. The network infamously broke tradition last year and did not present a fall slate at the 2022 upfront, the annual event when a platform pitches advertisers on its new and returning shows. That was a “competitive decision,” one network insider told IndieWire. It certainly didn’t help that the future for hit drama “9-1-1” was still undecided at the time. Fox ended up renewing “9-1-1” last year; next season the series is headed to ABC.

For the second upfronts in a row, Fox did not place any series on an actual schedule, unlike competitors NBC and CBS have. To note, ABC has yet to announce its fall schedule tied to the May 16 Disney upfront presentation.

IndieWire asked if Fox felt it could have prepared better for the strike, considering the competition thus far has been able to share a schedule.

“No, I think we prepared very well for the strike in every aspect of what we do,” Wade said. “Each individual broadcaster is different.”

Wade added that “Fox is built around a mix of great entertainment,” including sports, animation, and “very strong” reality programming. “We play by our own set of rules over here, and win at our own game,” he shared.

Fox has not yet completed production on any live-action series for the 2023-24 season, executives said on the conference call.

IndieWire’s follow-up question went to Marianne Gambelli, Fox’s president of ad sales, marketing, and brand partnerships. Gambelli was asked if Fox’s prospective advertisers were at all bumped by a lack of a schedule.

With “year-round production” due to Fox swearing off pilot season a decade ago, Gambelli assured “we’re used to a lot of changes, and we work very well with our advertisers in terms of accommodating these changes when these shows come in and out.”

Gambelli continued, “I feel that even though our competitors have announced the schedule, that schedule is really not etched in stone either. I think the clients are all kind of suspect a little bit that none of the schedules that anybody is presenting is going to happen because of the strike.”

Dan Harrison, EVP of Program Planning and Content Strategy, Fox Entertainment, noted the network learned the “big lesson” of being able to “pivot” amid the pandemic; such skills translate to the current WGA strike.

“One of the big lessons we learned from the pandemic is how to pivot and be flexible. The WGA strike has a similar effect on our business requiring us to be agile and adapt to evolving circumstances,” Harrison said on the conference call. “Rather than announce a schedule today that we may not be able to meet this fall, we will hold back until we have a better handle on what programming will be available to us and when.”

Harrison added, “No one has a crystal ball about the duration or impact of the strike. Once we have a clear view we will announce our plan. We have the strongest scripted pipeline, as well as the ability to identify other content options. We are confident our primetime schedule will be presented with original entertainment for our audience.”

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