Fall 2022: 17 Network Chiefs on the Emmy Categories They Want Added, Shows They’d Steal and Whether ‘Peak TV’ Has Truly Peaked

Yes, there’s still a Fall TV season, and yes, it’s now well under way. Broadcast TV got a little pep in its step last year thanks to two freshman sitcom phenoms: ABC’s “Abbott Elementary” and CBS’ “Ghosts.” When asked to tout their new wares, several network execs instead opted to shine more spotlight on returning shows they hope to keep buzzing as sophomore sensations.

It’s time for Variety’s annual fall check-in with network heads across broadcast, cable and streaming — although how to do that proves tricky these days. Many execs’ gigs transcend platforms, after all — like Disney’s Craig Erwich, who serves as entertainment president for both ABC and Hulu, or the NBCUniversal duo of Susan Rovner and Frances Berwick, whose domain stretches across programming for broadcast, network and streaming.

But they all are toiling away in this new landscape, and all facing the same issues. For one, have we reached content saturation point? Is that even a thing? Has peak TV peaked? No! Possibly! Yes! Or as AMC Networks’ Dan McDermott might say, Who cares?! “Peak TV is just a phrase that was thrown out in 2015,” he says. “It’s an irrelevant and meaningless term.”

As for rival shows that execs want to steal, “House of the Dragon” and “Abbott Elementary” lead the pack. Here’s this year’s Variety Network Presidents Fall TV survey, answered by execs from Netflix, ABC/Hulu, NBC, CBS, Fox, The CW, Showtime, FX, AMC, Discovery, OWN, Paramount Plus, Amazon and more.

Bela Bajaria, Netflix head of global TV

What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on? 

“DAHMER – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story”

What’s the Emmy category you wish existed?

Best series finale 

What show would you like to steal from a rival?   

“Yellowjackets” (Showtime)

Who do you consider your TV biz mentor(s)?

My parents, who taught me how to run a team like a family business 

What TV services do you subscribe to? 

Most of them 

Have we truly reached peak TV? If not, when will we? 

No! There is so much room for great TV shows to reflect more of the audience and more parts of the world.

Frances Berwick, NBC Universal NBC Universal

Frances Berwick, NBCUniversal Television and Streaming chairman, entertainment networks

What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on?  

 “La Brea” Season 2 (NBC) shouldn’t be missed.

What’s the Emmy category you wish existed?  

Best casting for unstructured reality

What show would you like to steal from a rival?  

 “The Rehearsal” (HBO)

Who do you consider your TV biz mentor(s)?  

Bonnie Hammer

What TV services do you subscribe to?  

Most of them

Have we truly reached peak TV? If not, when will we?  

Possibly!  But more importantly, the quality and breadth of content both niche and mass is immense. There is something for everyone. 

Courtesy of Paramount+

Nicole Clemens, Paramount+ original scripted series and Paramount TV Studios president

What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on? 

“Grease: Rise of the Pink Ladies” — It’s a prequel series that has an incredible cast of new young, soon to be stars; electrifying original music and choreography just like the original film.  

What’s the Emmy category you wish existed?

Best Musical (see above!) 

What show would you like to steal from a rival?   

“Outlander” (Starz) — because of the genre/romance mashup.

Who do you consider your TV biz mentor(s)?

My fellow Femtors inspire me. I’m so proud to be part of this group of incredible female executives who not only mentor future generations but also to learn from and support each other.  

What TV services do you subscribe to? 

What services don’t I subscribe to – I think I have them all at this point. 

Have we truly reached peak TV? If not, when will we? 

I always vote for quality over quantity personally, but the demand for new content from consumers appears to be endless. Despite the tidal wave of post pandemic content that flooded the market which may have inflated numbers, it seems like the trend may be fewer shows breaking through to 3-5 seasons with a revolving door of new series.  Maybe we’re on a mesa and not a peak. 

Nancy Daniels, Discovery Courtesy of Robert Severi

Nancy Daniels,TBS, TNT, truTV, Discovery, Animal Planet & Science chief of content

What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on? 

“Million Dollar Wheels” (TNT, following a run on Discovery+) — Love seeing something we made for Discovery+ have another life on one of our new sister networks (and one of the nets in my new world). This show is an entertaining romp through the world of high-end car sales in LA (and I mean HIGH END).  

What’s the Emmy category you wish existed?

Best corporate survival skills? Feels like that is an art form. 

What show would you like to steal from a rival?  

Can I put “House of the Dragon” (HBO) on Discovery? 

Who do you consider your TV biz mentor(s)?

I’ve had many amazing mentors in my career! 

– David Zaslav [Warner Bros. Discovery CEO] – his fierce and fearless ambition, and his demanding and relentless management style have made me better at my job.

– Eileen O’Neill [former Discovery exec] – gave me my first shot at running a network, gave me endless advice (still does) and set a strong example as a leader.

– Allison Grodner [“Big Brother” EP] – I worked for Allison years ago when I was a producer on Big Brother, and it was Allison that recommended me for my first network job at CBS. From both sides (on her team, and overseeing her shows from a network POV) I witnessed her be endlessly creative, make hard decisions look easy, balance network needs with show realities with grace.  From her I learned that any organizational culture starts at the top and it doesn’t have to be hard or toxic to be great!

What TV services do you subscribe to? 

Everything!  I really need to do an audit! I find I most often go to HBO Max and Discovery+ (duh), and I’m all in on Paramount+ right now for ‘Big Brother’ and ‘The Good Fight.’

Have we truly reached peak TV? If not, when will we? 

I hope we haven’t reached peak TV!  I do think we’ve reached a content glut, and there is an inevitable right-sizing of our business ahead.  

Craig Erwich, Hulu and ABC Michael Buckner/Variety/Shutters

Craig Erwich, ABC Entertainment, Hulu & Disney Branded Television Streaming Originals president

What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on?

“Welcome to Chippendales” (Hulu)

What’s the Emmy category you wish existed?

Best Pizza Made in a Cooking Show, Formatted or Competition

Who do you consider your TV biz mentor(s)?

Stephen J. Cannell

What TV services do you subscribe to? 

All of them, I think… I have to look at my credit card bill to be sure.

Have we truly reached peak TV? If not, when will we? 

I think the viewer has more choices than ever for quality programming which is great for the consumer.

Peter Friedlander, Netflix Courtesy of Netflix

Peter Friedlander, Netflix VP, scripted series

What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on? 

“Guillermo Del Toro’s Cabinet of Curiosities”

What’s the Emmy category you wish existed?

New talent award for first time actor, writer, director. 

What new show would you like to steal from a rival?  

“Station Eleven” (HBO Max)

Who do you consider your TV biz mentor(s)?

Former boss, Gary Goetzman from Playtone is my mentor in the biz. 

What TV services do you subscribe to? 

All the plusses and maxes and so on

Have we truly reached peak TV? If not, when will we? 

No. So many incredible storytellers outside the US are contributing stunning TV series to the television canon. Will be thrilling to see how this continues over the next decade. 

President of Original Programming for FX Entertainment Nick Grad Getty Images

Nick Grad, FX Entertainment original programming president

What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on? 

“Kindred”

What new show would you like to steal from a rival?   

“Severance” (Apple TV+)

Who do you consider your TV biz mentor(s)?

FX CEO John Landgraf

What TV services do you subscribe to? 

All of them (for now)

Kelly Kahl, CBS Michael Buckner/Variety/Shutters

Kelly Kahl, CBS Entertainment president

What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on? 

‘Ghosts’ is less than a year old and audiences are still discovering the show, so that counts as new to me.  Was glad to see the TV Academy recognize broadcast TV again (sincere congrats to ‘Abbott Elementary’), but ‘Ghosts’ should be next.  It’s as good as any comedy out there on any platform

What’s the Emmy category you wish existed? 

I’d like to see comedies and dramas that do traditional full seasons (at least 16 episodes) should have their own category.  Right now it’s like taking a team that plays eight games and putting them in the championship game while teams that play 22 games are left out.  Not fair.  Same in late night – shows that do multiple episodes a week and are playing a very different game than those that do 1 a week.

What show would you like to steal from a rival?

There’s a ton of great TV out there, so I’d look to shows I watch for fun.“Cobra Kai” (Netflix) fits that bill.

Who do you consider your TV biz mentor(s)?

I was fortunate to learn a ton early on from Wayne Neiman at Warner Bros.  He taught me to listen to viewers – they’re the tv experts.

What TV services do you subscribe to?

Pretty much all of them.  Always good to see what’s out there.

Have we truly reached peak TV? If not, when will we?

I think we have. But we are still focusing on making great tv shows that are watched by tens of

millions of people. Our new series – ‘Fire Country,’ ‘So Help me Todd,’  ‘East New York’ and ‘The Real Love Boat’ — have a chance to tap into the mainstream become highly rated shows, not just on CBS, but Paramount+ as well.  

AMC Networks AMC Networks

Dan McDermott, AMC Networks and AMC Studios president of entertainment

What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on? 

Easy answer and it’s not just a show, it’s an Immortal Universe we are building around the iconic works of Anne Rice, starting with Anne Rice’s “Interview with the Vampire” this fall and Anne Rice’s “Mayfair Witches” early next year. These are rich, lush, remarkably entertaining and well-rendered new shows we think fans will love, whether they read the books and are aware of the world or not. 

What’s the Emmy category you wish existed? 

Outstanding Albuquerque Legal Drama 

What new show would you like to steal from a rival?    

“House of the Dragon” (HBO) 

Who do you consider your TV biz mentor(s)? 

Barry Diller, Peter Chernin, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Steven Spielberg 

What TV services do you subscribe to?  

All of them, I think – well over 20. If I’m aware of it and it’s available, I subscribe to it. 

Have we truly reached peak TV? If not, when will we? 

Peak TV is just a phrase that was thrown out in 2015. It’s an irrelevant and meaningless term. Let’s rather focus on what matters – a platform’s curation and presentation of content, and the monetization of that content in the service of its financial health and profitability. Beyond that it doesn’t matter whether we have 682 scripted series or 1,000. 

Mark Pedowitz, The CW chairman/CEO

What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on? 

That is like forcing me to choose between my two favorite TV sons — Jared and Jensen — who each have a new show on our fall schedule. I think both “The Winchesters” and “Walker Independence” are excellent, and you should not sleep on either of them.

What’s the Emmy category you wish existed?

One that truly recognizes the quality of work that The CW does.

What new show would you like to steal from a rival?   

There are so many great new shows, but I have not had time to see them all so the jury is still out on my favorite.

Who do you consider your TV biz mentor(s)?

The late, great David Gerber was a tremendous mentor and a dear friend.

What TV services do you subscribe to? 

Too many to count, so I will just say all of them, or at least it feels like all of them.

Courtesy of OWN Courtesy of OWN

Tina Perry, OWN TV Network & OTT Streaming president

What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on? 

“The Hair Tales” docu-series featuring executive producers Tracee Ellis Ross, Oprah Winfrey and other notable women, digs into the complex culture of Black women’s hair and premieres this October.

What’s the Emmy category you wish existed?

Best Craft Services. The food isn’t always the healthiest, but it’s always fun stuff.  Would love to see which series really throws down off-camera. 

What new show would you like to steal from a rival?   

This is so easy to answer…”Abbott Elementary” (ABC)!

Who do you consider your TV biz mentor(s)? 

I have so many it would be impossible to list them all here. Let’s say I have mentors from all sides of the business- streaming executives, press legends, retired studio executives, and even a TV actor. I would not be where I am without my TV biz mentors.

What TV services do you subscribe to? 

YouTube TV, Apple TV+, Amazon Prime, Disney+, Discovery+, HBO Max, Hulu, Roku, Netflix, Paramount+. I clearly watch way too much TV. 

Have we truly reached peak TV? If not, when will we? 

I predict 2023 will be the “peak” of peak TV. 

Brandon Riegg of Netflix WireImage for The Artists Projec

Brandon Riegg, Netflix VP, unscripted and documentary series

What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on? 

Our reimagined version of “The Mole,” the competition series where one of the players is secretly sabotaging the group. 

What’s the Emmy category you wish existed?

Outstanding Nicole Byer Project

What new show would you like to steal from a rival?   

It’s a friendly rivalry with my Netflix film colleagues: I want to steal “The Redeem Team,” our doc feature about the 2008 US Olympic Men’s Basketball Team

Who do you consider your TV biz mentor(s)?

They know who they are!

What TV services do you subscribe to? 

All of them, but I may or may not still be poaching someone else’s account for some of them… (Hi, mom)

Have we truly reached peak TV? If not, when will we? 

No, and as long as increased competition inspires more creativity and innovation, I hope we never do.

Susan Rovner, NBC Universal Terrance Patrick

Susan Rovner, NBCUniversal Television and streaming chairman, entertainment content  

What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on?  

 “The Resort” (Peacock) 

What’s the Emmy category you wish existed?  

Best network show fans love 

What show would you like to steal from a rival?  

 “Abbott Elementary” (ABC) 

Who do you consider your TV biz mentor(s)?  

Lorne Michaels 

What TV services do you subscribe to?  

All of them 

Have we truly reached peak TV? If not, when will we?  

There can never be too much TV!

Vernon Sanders Amazon Courtesy of Amazon

Vernon Sanders, Amazon Studios Head of US/Global Television 

What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on? 

The Peripheral.” Kilter’s first series for Prime Video.

Who do you consider your TV biz mentor(s)? 

Jennifer Salke

What TV services do you subscribe to? 

All of them

Have we truly reached peak TV? If not, when will we? 

I don’t think we have. There will always be more choices as the industry continues to find more efficient ways produce television.

Michael Thorn, Fox Fox

Michael Thorn, Fox entertainment president

What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on?

“Monarch.” It’s a big swing for us that we’re taking the long view on.  And we’re excited about our upcoming animated comedy, “Krapopolis,” which represents the next era of our powerful animation brand.

What’s the Emmy category you wish existed?

Just like there is a category for limited series, I think there should be category that highlights dramas that feature more than 13 episodes per season.  Producing 22 episodes is a specific skill set and producers who maintain the quality a full season demands should be recognized for their work.  Let’s call it the “13+ Category.”

What TV services do you subscribe to?

I’m an avid consumer of pop culture and subscribe to everything, including every music service that’s available.

Courtesy of Rob Wade/Fox

Rob Wade, Fox alternative entertainment and specials president

What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on?

“Special Forces: The Ultimate Test.” It’s like no other reality show.  We’ve gathered an eclectic group of celebrities who face the most grueling training they’ll ever face and must make the choice to either power through or fold, simply because no one else will make that decision for them. Their success on the show is entirely dependent on their physical and mental endurance, making it an authentic test of character.

What’s the Emmy category you wish existed?

“Follow-Doc” Series.  They are the soaps of the modern times and are truly underappreciated.

What new show would you like to steal from a rival?   

Love on the Spectrum” (Netflix)

What TV services do you subscribe to? 

All of them.

Have we truly reached peak TV? If not, when will we? 

Yes. The financials don’t make sense and there’s no possible way to monetize content at this volume.

Jana Winograde, Showtime Showtime

Jana Winograde, Showtime entertainment president

What’s your new show that we shouldn’t sleep on? 

“Let The Right One In,” premieringnext month on Showtime.

What’s the Emmy category you wish existed? 

Best New Drama/Comedy

What new show would you like to steal from a rival?   

The Bear (FX)

Who do you consider your TV biz mentor(s)?  

Mark Pedowitz

What TV services do you subscribe to? 

Obviously, Showtime and Paramount Plus, but I also get every other streaming service – one has to keep an eye on the competition!

Have we truly reached peak TV? If not, when will we?  

If we’re talking peak quality, it’s hard to believe that there’s a notch above what’s currently being offered. If we’re talking quantity, it won’t stop rising until breaking through becomes so hard, the industry then stops making anything but big “tentpole” series – and that in turn makes room for smaller series to find their way in again…

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