January's semi-annual Television Critics Association press tour will be without some of the industry's biggest executives, as well as another streaming outlet.
Amazon has opted to join Netflix as well as Starz and completely sit out the January TCA press tour. Additionally, NBC, ABC, Fox and CBS have all eliminated executive panels from their day-long sessions. Instead, insiders say, each of the Big Four networks want to focus on their midseason fare. Sources suggest that the networks will resume executive panels during the summer as they look to heavily promote their 2017-18 fall lineups.
Read more: Netflix to Skip January TCA Press Tour
The news comes as a recent poll of the TCA membership found that more than 60 percent of members felt it was important to have an executive panel twice a year. The bulk of the news that comes out of TCA largely stems from executive panels in which Bob Greenblatt, Channing Dungey, Gary Newman and Dana Walden, as well as Glenn Geller, are quizzed about trends, returning and new shows as well as hot topics in the industry including Peak TV, dwindling viewership and the struggle to cut through the increasingly cluttered landscape. (The CW's Mark Pedowitz as well as all the cable toppers will participate in January.)
During the summer TCA, Geller was roasted about CBS' lack of diversity during a panel in which he confessed the network needed to "do better" as part of a grueling 10-minute-long diversity discussion. Fox brass Walden and Newman fielded questions about the future of The X-Files; ABC's Dungey - in her debut - opened up about axing Castle and plans for a Star Wars TV series; and NBC's Greenblatt and Jennifer Salke were quizzed on Trump. Given the near lack of a breakout broadcast hit and the absence of outright cancelations amid a lower ratings barometer, it's almost no surprise that execs from the Big Four networks would sit out the January tour in an effort to maintain a positive news cycle.
Many networks have voiced concerns about the rising costs and questionable value of TCA - as well as the impact on shows that take the time away from production. What was initially conceived as a way for press to have access to executives, producers and talent for both new and returning shows has evolved, given the 24/7 news cycle and digital era. Gone are the days when talent was inaccessible and rarely did press. Instead, comments from the stage can often go viral before a panel ends, given the prolific use of social media during the tour. The latter can make or break shows (and executives).
For Amazon's part, the streamer and retail giant's summer TCA featured an executive session followed by panels for Fleabag, Goliath, Good Girls Revolt, Man in the High Castle, Mozart in the Jungle, One Mississippi, Red Oaks and Transparent.
Midseason broadcast shows that are expected to panel at TCA include ABC's Still Star-Crossed, Downward Dog, Imaginary Mary and Time After Time; CBS has Training Day and Superior Donuts; Fox has Shots Fired, Star, 24: Legacy, APB, Making History and The Mick; and NBC has Taken; Powerless; Trial & Error; Midnight, Texas; Great News; Marlon and The Blacklist: Redemption.
Winter TCA will be held Jan. 5-18 at the Langham in Pasadena.
Editor's note: Lesley Goldberg is a TCA member.