Streaming to Your Screen This Fall

By Gilbert Galvan  | 

As the fall television season approaches, networks are getting creative with their schedules to accommodate coronavirus-related production delays. Some shows are indefinitely delayed, while others are filming in quarantine bubbles, like ABC’s The Bachelorette, the shows made by Tyler Perry productions, and even live sports, like the NBA playoffs. Streaming services and nonlinear media, on the other hand, are less tied to an expected schedule, and benefit from the buzz created by surprise releases, especially the stand-up comedy specials.

Disney Plus has seen a boom in subscriptions during the Covid-19 pandemic and Netflix is growing rapidly. Both platforms have had bona-fide cultural hits this year, with Netflix’s Tiger King documentary, and Disney Plus’s feature-length presentation of the Broadway smash Hamilton. And as the networks shuffle and reshuffle their schedules, streaming services have the opportunity to roll out competitive programming and expand their influence in television. Here’s a look at some of the most popular services and what they’ve got in store for the fall.

The NBCUniversal streaming service has counted ten million signups since its early-summer debut, and is now rolling out original daily programming, like sports talk show Brother from Another and comedian Amber Ruffin’s half-hour talk show and the BBC YA drama Naughts + Crosses. Fans of the cancelled NBC sitcom A.P. Bio are anticipating its reprieve on Peacock this fall, and nostalgia hounds can anticipate remakes of Queer as Folk and Punky Brewster, and Saved By the Bell.

Amazon Prime
The online retailer’s nonlinear service found a hit with Bear Grylls’ reality competition World’s Toughest Race: Eco-Challenge and fans of the service can anticipate season 2 of raunchy superhero sendup The Boys and Gillian Flynn’s retooling of UK conspiracy thriller Utopia.

Hulu is boasting the return of high school comedy PEN15 and a roster of new shows, including Michael Keaton’s limited series Dopesick, apocalyptic comic-book adaptation Y: The Last Man, Marvel adaptation Helstrom, and Woke, a comedy based on the life of artist Keith Knight. Also hotly anticipated is a revival of the beloved ‘90s cartoon Animaniacs that features the original cast, an Amy Schumer sitcom, and Ryan Murphy’s horror anthology American Horror Stories.

Netflix boasts a slew of new programming this fall, including the return of the critically-acclaimed and hugely popular Queen Elizabeth series The Crown, starring Oscar- and Emmy-winner Olivia Colman. Also on the docket is an animated series set in the Jurassic World universe, Sarah Paulson as One Flew Over the Cuckoo Nest’s famous psych ward nurse in Ratched, and Emily in Paris, a romcom series from the creator of Sex and the City. Netflix often revives cancelled shows or purchases a series without a pilot order. Cobra Kai, for example, has skyrocketed since premiering on Netflix after originating on YouTube Red. As always with Netflix, we can expect surprise drops and impromptu releases as the fall season rolls on.

The popular streamer has attracted over 60 million subscribers with offerings from the Walt Disney library, Pixar films, and this summer’s Hamilton. But its Marvel Cinematic Universe shows, set to expand this fall, have been delayed due to Covid-19. Fans can still anticipate season 2 of Star Wars Universe series The Mandalorian, rumored to be finishing post-production now, and debuting in October. Also ahead is Nat Geo–produced The Right Stuff, based on both Tom Wolfe’s 1979 nonfiction book and its 1983 film adaptation, detailing the story of the space race and the Mercury 7 astronauts.

Launched in November 2019, the service now has over 30 shows and movies. Lacking a robust back catalog, AppleTV+ is focused on producing and buying original content. Popular original shows include The Morning Show, starring Jennifer Aniston, Reese Witherspoon and Steve Carell, and Ted Lasso, a new series that debuted last month with Jason Sudeikis in the lead role. Coming this fall are Tiny World, a nature docuseries narrated by Paul Rudd, and Becoming You, a docuseries featuring children across the world, that explores how their first 2,000 days shape their lives. Also on tap is the Sundance winner, Boys State, purchased at the Sundance Film Festival.

As production resumes in Hollywood and the fall TV schedule rounds out, we can expect more surprises from nonlinear TV. Streaming services that aren’t tied directly to a network are free to take bigger risks. And in an uncertain TV fall, that flexibility will likely be a benefit for streamers and viewers alike.

Gilbert Galvan
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