Disney’s ABC Adds ‘Avengers’ Show to Female-Skewing Schedule

Walt Disney Co. (DIS)’s ABC network, ranked last among the TV viewers that advertisers target, will add five comedies and seven dramas to its schedule, including a show based on the secret agency from Marvel’s “Avengers.”

“Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” from producer Joss Whedon, will air on Tuesdays at 8 p.m., ABC said today in an e-mailed statement. The network and other broadcasters are showing their new lineups to advertisers this week in an annual event known as the “upfronts.” (See schedule below)

The action series marks an effort by the network to draw more young male viewers, an elusive group on broadcast TV, to a schedule that skews more toward women with “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Nashville.” It’s also leveraging the highly successful films based on Marvel superheroes, such as Iron Man. Including a reality series, ABC unveiled 13 new programs.

“That should work better at getting younger male viewers,” said Brad Adgate, director of research at New York advertising company Horizon Media Inc. “The network has very little live sports, which has hindered its ability to become a destination for male viewers.”

About 65 percent of ABC’s viewers are female, Adgate said, citing Nielsen data. The average age of ABC’s viewers is about 53, second oldest to CBS, he said.

Disney, also owner of ESPN, gained 0.2 percent to $67.47 at the close in New York. Shares of the Burbank, California-based company have climbed 36 percent this year, compared with 16 percent for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.

Upscale Women

In “S.H.I.E.L.D,” Clark Gregg reprises the role of Agent Phil Coulson from the Marvel films. He assembles a group of agents who protect the public from strange occurrences around the world. The timeslot would pit the show against CBS (CBS)’s “NCIS,” the most-watched drama on television.

“Our job is to be inclusive,” Paul Lee, president of the ABC Entertainment Group, told reporters on a conference call. “We are a big, broad network that does over deliver on upscale audience and does over deliver on upscale women.”

With the new season, “Dancing with the Stars” will air its performance and results shows in a single two-hour block on Mondays. On Tuesdays, starting with “S.H.I.E.L.D.,” ABC plans all new programs. Networks regularly schedule new shows after a well-established program to draw viewers. That practice is changing due to DVRs, Lee said.

“Lead-in does matter and it is important,” Lee said. “It is at times compromised by huge DVR viewing from the previous show. We put on shows and started off with shows we knew we loved and that we would get behind and market.”

Women’s Empowerment

With “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland,” a spinoff of “Once Upon a Time,” ABC creates an all-drama Thursday night that includes “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal.”

In “Wonderland,” set in Victorian England, Sophie Lowe plays Alice telling stories of a strange new land on the other side of a rabbit hole. The network “built a night of women’s empowerment,” Lee said.

Other dramas to be added this year will include “Lucky 7” on Tuesdays and “Betrayal” on Sundays. ABC’s four September comedies include “The Goldbergs,” “Trophy Wife,” “Back in the Game,” and “Super Fun Night,” the network said.

ABC ordered a reality series called “The Quest,” from the producers of “The Lord of the Rings” movies and “The Amazing Race” TV show, according to the statement. In the show, 12 contestants face challenges in a fantasy world with mythical creatures.

The network also ordered “Toy Story of Terror,” a Halloween special from Disney’s Pixar animation studio.

New Lineups

ABC ranks last in the 18-to-49-year-old demographic group that marketers target, with that audience down 9.1 percent for the season through May 12, Nielsen data show. The network is second in total viewers behind CBS, averaging 7.8 million viewers a night, down 6.5 percent from a year earlier.

U.S. TV networks are introducing new shows ahead of meetings with their biggest advertisers to obtain commitments and set ad rates for the TV season that begins in September.

NBC, which announced its schedule on May 12, picked up three dramas and three comedies, including “The Michael J. Fox Show.” News Corp. (NWSA)’s Fox said yesterday it will add nine programs, including the comedy “Dads” from Seth MacFarlane and the drama “Almost Human” from “Star Trek” producer J.J. Abrams. CBS plans to announce its new shows tomorrow.

Ad spending on network television is projected to decline 2 percent this year to $16.9 billion, and total TV advertising, including cable networks, will increase 2.8 percent to $63.9 billion, slowing from 7.1 percent in 2012, according to ZenithOptimedia, Publicis Groupe SA (PUB)’s research division.

                  ABC’s Fall Prime-Time Schedule

MONDAY:
    8:00 p.m.     “Dancing with the Stars”
   10:00 p.m.     “Castle”

TUESDAY:
    8:00 p.m.    “Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” (New)
    9:00 p.m.    “The Goldbergs” (New)
    9:30 p.m.    “Trophy Wife” (New)
   10:00 p.m.    “Lucky 7” (New)

WEDNESDAY:
    8:00 p.m.    “The Middle”
    8:30 p.m.    “Back in the Game” (New)
    9:00 p.m.    “Modern Family”
    9:30 p.m.    “Super Fun Night” (New)
   10:00 p.m.    “Nashville”

THURSDAY:
    8:00 p.m.    “Once Upon a Time in Wonderland” (New)
    9:00 p.m.    “Grey’s Anatomy”
   10:00 p.m.    “Scandal”

FRIDAY:
    8:00 p.m.    “Last Man Standing”
    8:30 p.m.    “The Neighbors”
    9:00 p.m.    “Shark Tank”
   10:00 p.m.    “20/20”

SATURDAY:
    8:00 p.m.    “Saturday Night College Football”

SUNDAY:
    7:00 p.m.    “America’s Funniest Home Videos”
    8:00 p.m.    “Once Upon a Time”
    9:00 p.m.    “Revenge”
   10:00 p.m.    “Betrayal” (New)

To contact the reporter on this story: Andy Fixmer in Los Angeles at afixmer@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anthony Palazzo at apalazzo@bloomberg.net

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