Thoughts on TV Guide’s 2016 Fall Preview Issue

TV Guide‘s 2016 Fall Preview issue has arrived. Don’t be fooled by the circle on the front cover declaring it “Your 96 Page Complete Guide” because the Fall Preview section isn’t even 30 pages long. This year’s look at new TV shows is considerably shorter than last year’s when the dedicated Fall Preview section ran for more than 50 pages.

I had a hard time finding a place to buy the 2016 Fall Preview issue. Last week I scouted three pharmacies and a supermarket–none of them had TV Guide. Today I hit another supermarket before heading to Barnes & Noble. There were just two copies in the magazine section. Did I feel a little guilty about taking both of them? Yes, I did. But I always buy two copies. While waiting in line to pay, I spotted six or seven additional copies.

I had to go to six stores before I found one that still sells TV Guide.(Copyright © 2016 TV Guide Magazine, LLC)

I had to go to six stores before I found one that still sells TV Guide.
(Copyright © 2016 TV Guide Magazine, LLC)

Because I only buy TV Guide once a year, I forget how expensive it is. At $4.99 per issue, this is definitely not a magazine you want to be buying every week (if you can even find it). Subscriptions cost just $16.50 a year. I’ve never had a subscription but I’m pretty sure I have family members who still do.

A Brief Very Look At Fall TV

You won’t find individual reviews in this issue. Or much of anything, really. Matt Roush offers a two-page critical overview of the fall crop rather than a brief “Matt’s Take” for every show. He praises Designated Survivor, This Is Us, Pitch, Speechless, and No Tomorrow. Kevin Can Wait, Man with a Plan, Conviction, and Notorious are among the duds.

There are also no “Editors’ Picks” this year. How will anyone know what to watch if the editors of TV Guide won’t share their favorites new shows? The prime time grid is back, though.

A total of 25 shows are included in the Fall Preview section. They’re ordered by day of the week. Five are cable shows: Good Behavior (TNT), Incorporated (Syfy), Dick Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency (BBC America), Westworld (HBO), and Divorce (HBO). Why those five cable shows are worthy of the TV Guide Fall Preview issue is a mystery. Six additional cable shows are lumped together on a single page after Sunday’s new shows. Last year’s Fall Preview issue also lumped cable in with broadcast, which I find annoying. Unlike last year, however, there are no separate sections for streaming or PBS.

I'm surprised The CW's Frequency got a full page.(Copyright © 2016 TV Guide Magazine, LLC)

I’m surprised The CW’s Frequency got a full page.
(Copyright © 2016 TV Guide Magazine, LLC)

Not every show gets a full write-up. No Tomorrow and Lethal Weapon barely get a full paragraph. Designated Survivor, on the other hand, is given two full pages (four if you count the two-page spread featuring Kiefer Sutherland that opens the Fall Preview section). Timeless, This Is Us, Speechless, The Good Place, MacGyver, and HBO’s Westworld also get two pages.

Final Thoughts

I don’t buy TV Guide‘s Fall Preview issue every year because I’m looking for information about new TV shows. Buying it is a tradition every year and I collect Fall Preview issues. As long as they’re being published–and as long as I can find them without too much hassle–I’ll keep buying them.

Most people have no need for TV Guide anymore. There’s really nothing the magazine can offer that can’t be found online earlier and for free. That’s just the way it is. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if it stops publishing in the next few years.

According to the Alliance for Audited Media, TV Guide had a circulation of 1,571,537 during the first six months of 2016. When the magazine was sold last year its circulation was around 1.8 million–but it was profitable. I suppose as long as it remains profitable, it will keep being published.

The prime time schedule grid makes its triumphant return.(Copyright © 2016 TV Guide Magazine, LLC)

The prime time schedule grid makes its triumphant return.
(Copyright © 2016 TV Guide Magazine, LLC)

Still, I know I got a thrill out of flipping through this year’s Fall Preview issue, even if it’s overpriced for the content. Seeing the full-page advertisements for new TV shows brings me back to a simpler time (and I’ve only been really invested in Fall Preview issues since the late 1990s/early 2000s). I’m sure I’m not the only one.

(Bonus: You can watch commercials for the 1962 and 1979 fall preview issues here.)


Are you still a subscriber? Are you having trouble finding it in stores? Hit the comments with your thoughts on TV Guide‘s 2016 Fall Preview issue.


4 Comments

  • charles perry says:

    A few quick notes: [1] TV Guide isn’t as hard to find as you think. Apparently, you still presume that TV Guide comes out on Tuesday, but because it’s now on the same cycle as the National Enquirer it comes out on Friday. Also. it’s no longer a weekly but a bi-weekly. [2]The newsstand price is a rip-off, I’m old enough to remember when it was 15 cents!! However, as a long-term subscriber I only pay $10 a year. [3]You are so right about how bad the issue was this year. Yes, there were fewer new network shows, but there were a lot of cable shows they missed. If you want a true overview of fall TV, I suggest you seek out the Entertainment Weekly fall preview. It costs $5.99 but it is worth every penny. BTW, I have TV Guide Fall previews going back to 1972!!

  • Patrick McNamara says:

    TVGuide seems to be trying to draw more people to it’s site. They took over TV.com and basically turned it into a mirror site with all TVGuide articles and nothing from TV.com itself.

    Print publishing itself is dropping. Recent phone books are nowhere near the size of what phone books use to be. And with TV guide, most are now able to just use an on-screen guide to find what they want and even program it to record so there’s no need to use a print guide.

  • Terrence says:

    I stopped with TV Guide when they shifted to a magazine format. I miss the old way.

    I used to look forward to the Fall TV preview, but it’s just not the same anymore.

    • ron says:

      AGREE ONE HUNDRED PERCENT. I always liked looking through the weeks programs for my city ahead of time to find what I would like to watch something I find time consuming on the on screen guide. TV Guide magazine useless to me. Entertainment Weekly is a much better magazine.

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