Fall 2021 TV Survey: 18 Network Chiefs on the Shows They’d Steal and How the Biz Should Change

People seem interested in what I have to say. Best perk of the job?
"Ordinary Joe" (NBC) and "America’s Big Deal" (USA) What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on?
Best perk of the job? A smart, fun, hard-working team I love working with every day. Also, when we were in the office, the hot lunch was pretty great.
Over-valuing the younger demographic. The internet and subscription models have changed the way people discover and stick with brands – we need to be making television that is targeting and loved by a wider swath of age groups than has been historically dictated by outdated advertising perceptions. If you could change one thing about the business, what would it be?
What hobby did you pick up during the pandemic? I did a ton of reading and research to learn about wine and all I still know is that I like red.
Best perk of the job? Watching a lot of excellent content
Best perk of the job? Hulu VIP account
Jana Winograde, Showtime Entertainment president
"The Mandalorian." And, as long as we’re in the realm of wishing, can I steal the entire Star Wars universe? What show would you like to steal from a rival?
I know "American Ninja Warrior" would fit right in with our originals such as "Snowpiercer" and "Animal Kingdom," our incredible Big Ticket Movies, our best-in-class sports, and TNT’s overall philosophy of “always being there for a thrill ride.” Plus, ninjas are awesome. What show would you like to steal from a rival?
Mark Pedowitz, The CW chairman and CEO
Susan Rovner, NBCUniversal Television & Streaming entertainment content chairman
What reality show would you excel at? "Below Deck" – being a primary
Can’t wait to start traveling again to be with them all in person. Best perk of the job? Working with brilliant colleagues and talent from all over the globe.
Bela Bajaria, Netflix VP/global head of TV
"Single Drunk Female" What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on?
What reality show would you excel at? "Big Brother" (no floaters)
Here's this year's Variety Network Presidents Fall TV survey, answered by execs from Netflix, ABC/Hulu, NBC, CBS, Fox, The CW, HBO/HBO Max, Showtime, FX, AMC, A+E, Discovery, Freeform, Paramount Plus, Epix and TBS/TNT/TruTV.
If you could change one thing about the business, what would it be? And it’s on the top of my list to crack that! I want TV to bring us together again. Everyone having their own screen can have its merits, but I really miss the idea of the whole family gathering around and having a shared experience around a great show.
Michael Thorn, Fox Entertainment president
Not every problem is a nail, and not every solution requires a hammer.” /> If you could change one thing about the business, what would it be? I would dial down the cynicism and skepticism, and dial up the tolerance and empathy.
What reality show would you excel at? "Indian Matchmaking"
"I May Destroy You" What show would you like to steal from a rival?
What show would you like to steal from a rival? "The White Lotus"
What show would you like to steal from a rival? "Derry Girls"
"Colin in Black and White" What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on?
I think I could turn a chair or two. Yeah, I said it. "The Voice." Sign me up. What reality show would you excel at? Lol.
Discounts at the Universal Studios theme parks. Best perk of the job?
What hobby did you pick up during the pandemic? Learning very basic Japanese with my team.
What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on? "Naked & Afraid of Love"
Best perk of the job? Well, I’ve never even seen my office at ABC so it would have to be early screeners of "The Bachelor."
From Michael Hirst’s smart and relevant script, to the incredibly detailed production Donald Deline has put together, to Otto Bathhurt’s inspired direction, to Thom Blythe’s breakout performance … I believe they might be making something very special. We’re currently halfway through the shoot of "Billy the Kid," and it’s incredibly exciting to watch this one continue to come to life. What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on?
Best perk of the job? Amazing to be here, for the rich history and particularly this moment. Engaging with my colleagues across AMC Networks, as well as the artists and craftspeople who make our shows. They are some of the best storytellers in the world, and it’s more than a perk, it’s a gift.
I didn’t pick up a new hobby, but I did find more time to rehearse with my band – and we were just starting to get booked more frequently as the Covid restrictions were easing, so, hopefully that continues when we eventually re-emerge from our captivity! Does eating junk food count as a hobby? What hobby did you pick up during the pandemic?
Of all those shows, just one made it to a 1.0 rating with adults 18-49: "The Voice." NBC won the night with a 0.9 rating. "Fall TV" isn't the end-all, be-all of the television business that it once was, but nonetheless, it's still a good time as a natural signpost to take the industry temperature. But of course, this isn't news anymore, the massive live+same day ratings erosion has been years in the making, as audience habits change and more competitors flood the marketplace, all competing for viewer eyeballs.
What reality show would you excel at? None— I am meant to be behind the scenes.
It blocks access to great talent and can limit artists’ ability to tell all of the stories they want to tell to the right audience. If you could change one thing about the business, what would it be? Talent in overall deals with platforms instead of studios.
What hobby did you pick up during the pandemic? Cooking.
Not sure it’s a hobby, but have been able to actually read books vs listening to them in the car. What hobby did you pick up during the pandemic?
What hobby did you pick up during the pandemic? I make the best Negroni on the West Coast now.
Give it a watch, you’ve never seen anything like it. "Ultra City Smiths" is a unique, wildly entertaining and expertly crafted series created and run by the brilliant Steve Conrad ("Patriot"). Baby doll crime drama! What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on?
Eric Schrier, FX Entertainment president
What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on? "The Sex Lives of College Girls" from Mindy Kaling, coming this fall to HBO Max.
Michael Wright, Epix president
What show would you like to steal from a rival? "South Park"
Organizing. I am very proud of my pantry! What hobby did you pick up during the pandemic?
No comment! If you could change one thing about the business, what would it be?
What hobby did you pick up during the pandemic? Yoga and meditation — calm anxiety
Best perk of the job? I have the incredible privilege and pleasure to help my teams create shows and entertainment that provide laughs, thrills, connection, and an overall good time for hundreds of millions of people. Also, I get to fill out Variety surveys on the reg.
Having the opportunity to sit in rooms with the best creative minds and hear how they think. Seeing Sasha Baron Cohen, a true artistic genius, pitch a movie was one of the highlights of my career!! Best perk of the job?
What show would you like to steal from a rival? "The White Lotus." I’d like that wallpaper too.
Kelly Kahl, CBS Entertainment president
There is a ton of opportunity for creators." Adds TBS/TNT/TruTV's Brett Weitz: "The internet and subscription models have changed the way people discover and stick with brands – we need to be making television that is targeting and loved by a wider swath of age groups than has been historically dictated by outdated advertising perceptions." And ABC and Hulu's Craig Erwich would like to see us "stop talking about the demise of broadcast television.
What reality show would you excel at? "Love is Blind"
What reality show would you excel at? "Diners, Drive Ins and Dives." I am a HUGE fan of the show, and I would crush it at eating great food and thanking the people who made it for me.
Categorizing things as "international' or "foreign language" – those are only if you're in the US. If you could change one thing about the business, what would it be?
Peter Friedlander, Netflix head of U.S. and Canada scripted series
Nancy Daniels, Discovery Inc.’s Discovery & Factual chief brand officer
But Variety contacted several outlets to nonetheless bring back its annual network exec survey, asking the traditional questions like "what show do you covet from another network?" (credit to the once-standard HRTS network presidents lunch for that one), as well as the new show they hope we check out and a few other fun questions in the mix. And few networks have included executive sessions, once a TCA staple, as a part of those virtual sessions. Normally, the press gets to do that during the Television Critics Association summer press tour— but because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the TCA tour has gone online.
Commercial monetization that is limited to consumption by 18 to 54 year olds. If you could change one thing about the business, what would it be?
What reality show would you excel at? "Top Gear." I like cars, driving, and traveling the world.
If you could change one thing about the business, what would it be? One day a week free of emails and zooms.
What reality show would you excel at? "Legends of the Hidden Temple"
Dan McDermott, AMC original programming president
I would be an exceptional charter guest on "Below Deck." What reality show would you excel at?
What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on? "All American: Homecoming"
My dream job is to be a judge on “RuPaul’s Drag Race.” What reality show would you excel at?
What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on? "Abbot Elementary." World, get ready to meet Quinta Brunson.
What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on? "Yellow Jackets." This show’s originality and multi-generational appeal, not to mention its pure entertainment value, is sure to become part of the zeitgeist.
If you could change one thing about the business, what would it be? There is a ton of opportunity for creators. Stop talking about the demise of broadcast television.
"Reservation Dogs" What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on?
Best perk of the job? A stable income.
Tanya Giles, ViacomCBS Streaming chief programming officer
Tequila. But in all seriousness, my family spent much of quarantine in Vancouver and there I developed an even deeper appreciation for nature and observing wild animals in their element, from a safe distance, while drinking tequila on my porch. What hobby did you pick up during the pandemic?
Soo, I guess no sleep for you all? To that end, I would also say, “don’t sleep on Rhodes to the Top” – a new unscripted series for TNT featuring top AEW talent Brandi and Cody Rhodes outside of the ring. "AEW Rampage" – The second series from AEW on TNT, Rampage has just been killing it in the ratings. We knew when Tony Khan and All Elite Wrestling came to us just over two years ago with the mantra of “a show by wrestlers for wrestling fans” that they had something special, but none of us knew how deeply the fans would respond and crave more programming. What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on?
What reality show would you excel at? "The Amazing Race"
Best perk of the job? Working with gifted storytellers. I know it sounds hopelessly earnest, whatever, I love working with the people who tell the magical stories that touch us.
"Ghosts." It’s smart, funny, and there’s nothing else like it on TV. What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on?
Paul Buccieri, A+E Networks Group president/chairman
My colleagues Best perk of the job?
What show would you like to steal from a rival? No question, "Succession." Everything about that show is brilliant and enviable – it’s so expertly crafted, so relevant, and such a joy to watch – I think our audience would love it.
If you could change one thing about the business, what would it be? 48-hour days, so everyone would actually have the time to watch and fully appreciate all the great content that is being made right now.
What show would you like to steal from a rival? "The White Lotus"
NBCUniversal's Frances Berwick, for example, would like to change the "commercial monetization that is limited to consumption by 18-to-54-year-olds." CBS' Kelly Kahl is encouraged to see the industry "beginning to move away from such narrow demo targeting in terms of sales." We also asked the execs to share the thing they'd most like to change about the business, and that's where our brief mention above about the ratings comes in. Measurement is changing, and execs remain frustrated that the business isn't keeping pace.
What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on? "Big Leap" and "Our Kind of People"
If you could change one thing about the business, what would it be? I try not to focus on things out of my control; rather I like to look at things, like challenge and change, as opportunities to stretch and grow.
Tara Duncan, Freeform president
Best perk of the job? I get to work in television.
Brett Weitz, TBS/TNT/TruTV general manager
Metrics of success. If you could change one thing about the business, what would it be?
HGTV’s "Design Star" What reality show would you excel at?
"Survivor" What reality show would you excel at?
What show would you like to steal from a rival? "This Is Us," the show is still at the top of its game.
What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on? It’s hard to pick just one… we have a Lincoln documentary executive produced by Doris Kearns Goodwin that is for the History Channel and a truly compelling and up-close documentary on Janet Jackson that will air on A&E and Lifetime, as well as History's "Greatest Mysteries with Laurence Fishburne."
"Succession" What show would you like to steal from a rival?
Casey Bloys, HBO and HBO Max chief content officer
What hobby did you pick up during the pandemic? Scrolling through real estate on Redfin
My Instant Pot is still in the box, but I’ve been boxing, going hiking and doing yoga. What hobby did you pick up during the pandemic?
What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on? "Mayor of Kingston"
More time to be inspired and intentional. If you could change one thing about the business, what would it be?
We make TV shows. It’s all a perk. Best perk of the job?
What hobby did you pick up during the pandemic? Power washing.
I’ve always enjoyed taking long nature walks, but we did recently get a dog, so walking with her helps me reset and recharge. What hobby did you pick up during the pandemic?
If you could change one thing about the business, what would it be? We’re beginning to move away from such narrow demo targeting in terms of sales and I think that’s a really positive development.
I love to read, and the pandemic allowed me more time for that. What hobby did you pick up during the pandemic?
What show would you like to steal from a rival? "Survivor"
"LaBrea" What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on?
I am always humbled and inspired whenever we have the opportunity to make a positive impact through our programming and social responsibility initiatives. Best perk of the job?
"Best Leftovers Ever!" What reality show would you excel at?
Craig Erwich, Hulu Originals and ABC Entertainment president
I’m certainly not "Tough as Nails," but I’ve been here a long time and haven’t been voted off the island yet, so I’ll go with "Survivor." What reality show would you excel at?
What show would you like to steal from a rival? The entire Marvel universe.
Calling it “the business.” If you could change one thing about the business, what would it be?
It’s probably cheating, but "Billions" has an amazing cast. What show would you like to steal from a rival?
What hobby did you pick up during the pandemic? Crossword Puzzles.
I love the uplifting and inspiring "Ted Lasso" (I even liked season two) although it’s not a fit for us. ESPN’s "30 for 30" is a smart format with fantastic storytelling. What show would you like to steal from a rival?
The 2021-2022 TV season officially kicked off Monday, with a new season of "Dancing with the Stars" on ABC, the return of comedies, "NCIS" and the new "NCIS Hawai'i" on CBS, NBC's new season of "The Voice" and the premiere of drama "Ordinary Joe," and Fox's new season bow of "9-1-1" and the launch of freshman drama "The Big Leap."
Walking with my husband and dogs. What hobby did you pick up during the pandemic?
What show would you like to steal from a rival? "Doom Patrol"
What hobby did you pick up during the pandemic? Wine tasting
Working across a variety of content and genres. Best perk of the job?
What show would you like to steal from a rival? "Succession" or "Brooklyn Nine-Nine"
Frances Berwick, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming Entertainment Networks chairman
"Cowboy Bebop" What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on?

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