As if you didn’t already have enough TV shows clogging up your DVR, we’re about to get a whole lot more.
It’s nearly autumn in the US, which, along with the leaves changing colors, warm layers, and apple cider, means the arrival of network TV. Shows like CBS’s The Big Bang Theory, AMC’s The Walking Dead, and FX’s American Horror Story are returning to the small screen, alongside newcomers like FX’s Mayans M.C. and CBS’s Murphy Brown revival. But this year, as more streaming-video services come on the scene, their debuts may be eclipsed by offerings from tech firms. Some of the most anticipated new shows of the 2018 fall TV season are on Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu.
Tech companies don’t need to conform to traditional TV release schedules. US broadcast and cable networks like CBS and FX debut their top shows during the fall season, which runs from September to May, with smaller or riskier shows premiering during breaks in the winter and summer months, to maximize the number of live eyeballs watching their programming and attract ad dollars. Netflix, Amazon, and Hulu don’t depend as much on live viewership, so they can and often do drop new episodes of shows at any point during the year. Netflix, for example, released the first original series it commissioned, House of Cards, in its entirety in February 2013.
But many of those streaming services are now reserving some of their best stuff for the fall. That’s when audiences in the US expect new series. And, with more TV channels from CBS to HBO making their content available online with platforms of their own or streaming TV services like YouTube TV, there’s more competition for cord cutters’ attention than ever.
Last year, Netflix saved season two of its flagship show Stranger Things for the fall, around Halloween. This year, it’s releasing Maniac, a mind-bending new series starring Jonah Hill and Emma Stone; The Good Cop, a light-hearted crime procedural starring Tony Danza and Josh Groban that would be right at home on a broadcast network like NBC; and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina, a supernatural Archie Comics–inspired series reminiscent of The CW’s Riverdale.
Amazon, which is revamping its original programming under the leadership of Jennifer Salke, is debuting two big dramas this fall: Matthew Weiner’s star-studded anthology series The Romanoffs and Homecoming, starring Julia Roberts and created by Mr. Robot’s Sam Esmail. It also has a strange new series featuring Saturday Night Live’s Fred Armisen and Maya Rudolph, called Forever. Hulu, meanwhile, is releasing The First, a drama about the first astronauts on Mars that stars Sean Penn, and a horror anthology series from Blumhouse TV called Into the Dark. YouTube Premium, formerly YouTube Red, also has a new sci-fi drama on the way called Origin.
Even Facebook is getting in on the action, having launched a hub for original video called Facebook Watch last year. It has two dark comedies lined up—one starring Catherine Zeta-Jones called Queen America and another with Elizabeth Olsen entitled Sorry For Your Loss.
Last month the tech titans took over the Television Critics Association summer press tour, where TV networks typically show off their shows for the upcoming fall to media. Netflix and Amazon returned after long absences, as did Hulu and YouTube, and Facebook Watch made its debut.
To be sure, the premium networks like HBO and Showtime, cable networks like AMC and FX, and the big US broadcasters also have lots coming down the pike. The CW’s Charmed reboot, Showtime’s Kidding, CBS’s Murphy Brown revival, and FX’s Mayans M.C. are all getting a lot of attention. But tech’s ascendance during this hectic time of year is also a sign that streaming platforms are getting big enough to feel comfortable pitting their biggest shows against broadcast and cable, which have more scale.
One thing’s for sure: Cord cutters definitely won’t feel left out around the water cooler—or on Twitter—this fall TV season.